NEWS

Thousands sign petition against Bill 14

03/06/2013 10:52 EST | Updated 05/06/2013 05:12 EDT
A petition against the Parti Québécois' Bill 14 is gaining ground as thousands of people add their signatures each day to ask the National Assembly to reject the bill many worry will restrict the rights of Anglo-Quebecers.

A group of parents with the Lester B. Pearson School Board is speaking out against Bill 14, which would beef up the province's French language charter and, among many changes, restrict access to English schools.

Simo Kruyt, a member of the schools board's central parent committee and one of the creators of the petition, said he is not normally involved in politics, but he felt he had to speak up.

"When we saw this bill come about from the Parti Québécois, we said this is enough, this is the last straw," Kruyt told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

So far the petition has almost 19,000 signatures and Kruyt estimated about 1,500 names are added each day.

Kruyt pointed out the petition acknowledges the need to protect Quebec's French language.

"We are positive about French in Quebec," he said.

But Kruyt said the bill goes too far, and would infringe on the rights of anglophones.

"We feel we have an ability, as an anglophone community, to actually be an asset to the francophone community, not a deterrent to [its] welfare."

The petition is the latest in a growing movement against the changes proposed in Bill 14. In February, military parents spoke out against changes that would get rid of the exemption that allows military parents to send their kids to English-language schools.

Residents of towns including Lac-Brome are also concerned about the loss of their bilingual status – the PQ has proposed to remove the status from any towns that have an anglophone population with less than 50 per cent.

"Culture and language is something that's maintained based on a familiy situation and not from external forces trying to restrict it," Kruyt said.

Public hearings on Bill 14 begin next week and the Lester B. Pearson school board is presenting on March 19.

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