Bill 14 Article Shocking and Alarmist

Bill 14 Article Shocking and Alarmist

One of our readers read Colin Standish’s article on Bill 14 and felt compelled to write to us:

I am a frequent reader of Life in Québec Magazine and have in the past enjoyed the articles and pieces published. However, I was shocked by the subject matter and frankly alarmist tone of the February 27 article written by Colin Standish “Bill 14 Threatens Our Soldiers’ Children”.

Bill 14 is a contentious issue, that is certain, and it definitely merits scrutiny. However, what is reported by Mr. Standish in this article is very misleading and, in my opinion, intentionally misinformative in order to elicit a reaction from the English-speaking population.

If one were to read the French Language Charter and Bill 14, it is quite clear that the children of military families who attend English school now are not at any risk of being forcefully removed from their English schools and put into French schools.

In fact, Article 23 of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms ensures the right to education in a minority language:

23. (1) Citizens of Canada

(a) whose first language learned and still understood is that of the English or French minority population of the province in which they reside, or

(b) who have received their primary school instruction in Canada in English or French and reside in a province where the language in which they receive that instruction is the language of the English or French linguistic minority population of the province, Have the right to have their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in that language in that province.

(2) Citizens of Canada who any child has received or is receiving primary or secondary school instruction in English or French in Canada, have the right to have all their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in the same language.

There is also a third subsection that essentially says that there has to be sufficient funds and numbers to warrant a school in a minority language.

Moreover, article 73 of the French Language Charter repeats article 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, almost verbatim.

Article 81 of the French Language Charter allows children who are having serious learning difficulties in French to study in English, if the parents so choose. The brothers and sisters of the child in difficulty also have the right to study in English.

The National Assembly cannot create a law that is contrary to the constitution and if they did, the law would have no force. What is essential to know about Bill 14, and what Mr. Standish has omitted, is that English as a minority language in Québec is protected. The by-law states that military families can supply a letter from their employer stating that they are not staying in Québec for more than three years instead of having to do the normal paper work that other out-of-province families, or even in-province Anglophones, have to do.

Military families will still benefit from the exception of Canadian citizens who are temporarily in Québec for work reasons. The by-law, at first glance is rather redundant, but would allow Francophone military families to put their children in English school, based solely on the fact that they are in the military.

At the end of the day, what closing this loophole means is Francophones can’t put their French kids in English schools just because they are in the military. If a Francophone military family that has been living outside of Quebec and previously had their children in English schools and then moves to Quebec, they can still continue to have their children educated in English schools in Quebec (because of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms).

All in all, once the appropriate bills and charters are examined, one will find that French and English liguistic minority rights are safeguarded in the Canadian constitution and that no provincial government alone can decide to change a law that protects those rights. I encourage you to read the legal documents for yourself and I hope that Life in Québec will consider publishing an amendment to the article in question if only for the sake of journalistic integrity.


Stéphanie Fraser

Bill 14:

(Scrool down to 14 for the English version)

French Language Charter:



Canadian Constitution:

About the author:

Stephanie-Fraser_HeadshotStéphanie Fraser was born and raised in Quebec City.
She has a degree in teaching English as a second language and is currently working on a master’s in language didactics.
She is passionate about education and language.

Categories: News

About Author

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  1. jobp
    jobp 5 March, 2013, 14:08

    “………instead of having to do the normal paper work that other out-of-province families, or even in-province Anglophones, have to do”.
    Interesting you should mention this, because in other provinces no special paperwork is required to send your child to any school no matter what the language. It is simply a matter of choice. Good point about minority languages being protected in Canada; fortunately Quebec is the only province that feels it has to discriminate against another language in order to do so. Vive le Canada.
    Job Patstone, Quebec City.

  2. mbakerquebec
    mbakerquebec 7 March, 2013, 00:05

    I have read the legal documents for myself and would just like to point out you are mistaken about article 23 of the Canadian constitution. It doesn’t apply to Quebec and you will see that if you click on the footnote “(14)” next to the section you have quoted.

    • sfraserqc
      sfraserqc 7 March, 2013, 14:51

      If you take a closer look at the footnote (14) for article 23 of the Canadian constitution, you will find that paragraph 23(1)(a) does not apply to the province of Québec: “Paragraph 23(1)(a) is not in force in respect of Quebec.”, but paragraph 23(1)(b) certainly does. This means that any Canadian citizen who has received their primary or secondary education in English or French has the right to have their children receive primary or secondary education in English or French, regardless of the province they reside in.

  3. peter
    peter 8 March, 2013, 22:59

    If we scroll down to article 33 of the Canadian constitution , we will find the notwithstanding clause or the override clause which makes the Quebec proposed Bill 14 , if voted and accepted , another Bend Over law which the citizens will have to accept .

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