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Canadian Jewish Congress Supports Languages Bill, Opposed by Many French-canadians

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The Canadian Jewish Congress has come out in support of the controversial Bill 63, legislation introduced to the Quebec Assembly by Premier Jean Jacques Bertrand which would ensure the primacy of French in the Province but at the same time give parents the right to choose between French and English as the language of instruction for their children in public schools.

Last week-several thousand young French-Canadians marched on the Provincial Assembly in Quebec to denounce the bill. Rene Levesque, a leader of the French separatist movement in Quebec, has accused Premier Bertrand of betraying Quebec’s aspirations to make French the language and culture in the province. M. Bertrand’s bill would require all pupils to pass oral and written examinations in French.

The Canadian Jewish Congress is on record as favoring the strengthening of French in the province and making instruction in French available for all. However, it has maintained in all its representations to commissions of inquiry in Quebec dealing with education that Parental choice of education for all children is a basic right which ought not to be denied to anyone regardless of origin.

In an Ottawa development, a bill providing prison terms for incitement to racial hatred or advocacy of genocide has passed its first reading in the Canadian House of Commons. It would set a two year-penalty for persons convicted of inciting hatred or contempt against a group distinguishable by race. religion, color or ethnic origin and five years for conviction on charges of advocating or promoting genocide. The bill differs from one sponsored by the Government and passed by the Senate last June in that it includes religion among the attributes of an identifiable group. The revision was requested in a brief submitted by the Canadian Jewish Congress last winter.

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