QUEBEC — The minister responsible for the French language has denied that the Coalition Avenir Québec government has plans to create lists of Quebecers who would be eligible for government services in English.
“There was never any question of lists,” Simon Jolin-Barrette told the legislature Wednesday. “The issue up for discussion was that new arrivals need to communicate with the state in French.”
Jolin-Barrette, who is also the minister of immigration, was responding to a call from Jacques-Cartier MNA Greg Kelley to clarify remarks he made a few weeks ago in announcing immigrants to Quebec will no longer be eligible for government services to be delivered in English.
The exception, Jolin-Barrette said, will be for what he referred to as the “historic English minority.”
But the definition of this community remains vague, with Kelley accusing the Coalition Avenir Québec of creating angst for anglophones because it has thus far failed to define the category beyond saying it means Quebecers who have the right to send their children to English schools.
“I don’t know if the minister read The Gazette or other anglophone media, but people are worried and the government is doing nothing to reassure them,” Kelley fired at Jolin-Barrette during daily question period.
Kelley, who is the Liberal opposition critic for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, tried the same question last week to no avail.
The time, responding to Jolin-Barrette’s remarks about lists, Kelley said the minister clearly used the word lists in a CTV report.
“Mr. Speaker, which list is the minister talking about?” Kelley said Wednesday. “Since this statement Nov. 5, the minister has done nothing to explain his idea.
Switching to English, Kelley added: “If he is the one saying that he was cited out of context, he needs to clarify the situation. He has not and he is not taking the time.
“I give him the opportunity right now in this House to clarify. What does he mean by a list and what does he mean by historic anglophone? The people deserve to know.”
“There is no list, there is no question of lists,” Jolin-Barrette answered in French. “What I wanted to underscore is the fact that for the Quebec state, the official language of the Quebec state is French.”
“All new arrivals that we welcome must be welcomed in French.”