Menu JTA Search

Quebec Jews Oppose Language Law

The Quebec region of the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai B’rith District 22, made public yesterday a brief prepared by them stating objections to proposed language legislation (Bill 1), the main purpose of which is to make the French language “the principal, primary and common language of Quebec.” The two organizations already have submitted their brief to the Commission on Education, Cultural Affairs and Communications of the Quebec National Assembly.

The brief raised serious questions about Bill 1 based on what its authors regard as an “unjust treatment of minorities or individuals or an infringement on their rights and freedoms” as the measure now stands. The brief stated that “our main concern is that there should be no violation of the human rights of any individual and that equity in terms of law, customs and usage be maintained for all individuals without distinction.”

The brief said “We maintain that the goals of Bill 1 must be consistent with the protection of human rights and dignity of all citizens. The French language in Quebec can flourish without undue coercion and harsh penalties…. Injustices of the past of which the Jewish community has also been the victim, cannot be corrected by discriminatory measures–rather the linguistic and cultural problems of Quebec must be solved by the closest cooperation and understanding of all, irrespective of origin.”

The two organizations said that the Jewish community specifically sought the elimination from Bill 1 of provisions which stipulate that it supersedes the Quebec Charter of Human Rights. The Jewish community also asked a change in the wording of the bill’s preamble to make it clear that the term “Quebecois” applies to all persons in the province, regardless of their language.

Joel Pinsky, who presided at the press conference at CJC headquarters, said the “relationship between the Jewish community and the Quebec government is generally good, now and in the past.” Howard Kresthot, president of District 22 of B’nai B’rith, said “There are people moving out of Quebec, both French speaking and English speaking, and certainly a number of Jews are included.” But he said that in general, the Jewish community here will remain unchanged.

NEXT STORY