A controversial bill to amend the Charter of the French Language by the Quebec’s Parti Quebecois (“Bill 14”), has entered general consultations and public hearings. During March and April of 2013 interested parties and individuals may raise points of interest and relevant concerns. (To read more about our analysis about Bill 14, see our related post on this topic.) Various individuals and organizations have undergone this process in parallel through the media and other sources.
One such organization is the Conseil Québécois du Commerce de Détail (“CQCD”), whose mission is to represent, promote and enhance the image of the retail sector in Quebec and to develop ways to foster the advancement of its members. On April 16, 2013, CQCD issued a press release setting out its concerns with respect to Bill 14.
In particular, the CQCD expressed concern regarding:
- Bill 14’s promotion of recourse to the judicial system, thereby bringing an end to the dialogue between businesses and the Office québécoise de la langue française (“OQLF”);
- Bill 14’s use of coercive measures, as demonstrated in granting the OQLF the power to investigate without specific guidelines; and
- Bill 14’s increase in regulatory and administrative burdens on businesses.
Despite these critizisms, the CQCD affirms the Quebec provincial government’s goal to promote the use of French in the work place and as such, proposes certain solutions to soften the measures proposed in Bill 14.
Suggested solutions include:
- Offering businesses the necessary tools and environment to make the transition successful; and
- Providing easy access to relevant information with respect to the rules businesses may be subject to.
These proposals offer a middle ground through facilitating businesses in protecting the French language. Further, softer policies will promote support for the Bill and higher compliance with its requirements. At present, CQCD’s press release is indicative of the criticisms shared by many members of the business community. Given the minority status of the current Quebec provincial government, the proposed amendments may not survive in their current form. Ideally, changes will result from the present consultations resulting in a Bill which reflects the needs and goals of all involved.