44 years after Bill 101, Quebec’s language law remains controversial

A stop sign in Quebec with the English word taped over. (Photo by Caribb/Flickr Creative Commons)

One year after the separatist Parti Quebecois government won Quebec’s 1976 election, they passed Bill 101—better known as the Charter of the French Language—which cemented French as Quebec’s only official language and restricted the use of English in private businesses and public schools. A mass exodus of Jews from the province ensued, with as many as 40,000 Jewish Quebeckers leaving the province for good.

Robert Libman was a teenager then, but ended up staying in Quebec. In 1988, after graduating with a degree in architecture from McGill, he entered politics as the founder of the Equality Party, pushing for anglophone rights. Along with a few other party members, Libman won his seat in Quebec’s National Assembly in 1989.

Now 60, Libman is a columnist for the Montreal Gazette, and joins The CJN Daily podcast to reflect on the 44th anniversary of the bill’s passing, and why he’s rallying against the “troubling” proposed new Bill 96 amendments that he says should concern everyone.

Listen and subscribe above.

What we talked about:

  • Read Libman’s column, “This summer is no time for Quebec anglos to relax,” at montrealgazette.com
  • Listen to the episode of Bonjour Chai about Jews and Quebec nationalism at thecjn.ca

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network; find more great Jewish podcasts at thecjn.ca.