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Will Huffpost Quebec Help End Language Apartheid?

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What better way to celebrate the Huffington Post's entry into the Quebec market than to remind the world of its segregation laws.

Quebec segregates the rights of its own residents through The Charter of the French Language, commonly known as Bill 101. The most significant of several provisions that violate fundamental human rights are the language of education provisions which divide Quebecers into two separate and distinct civil rights categories:

1) those who can choose to send their children to either French-language or English-language publicly-funded schools; and

2) those who can only send their children to French-language publicly-funded schools.

The discrimination procedure used to determine placement in either of these two civil rights categories is based upon:

1) whose one's parents are; and

2) what the parents' classification is (i.e., eligibility certificate).

This classification is handed down, generation after generation.

This regime of discrimination based upon descent violates the basic tenet of a free and democratic society that all are equal under the law.

Indeed, the language of Bill 101 used in the discrimination process described above is identical in principle to the one used under the now defunct apartheid system of South Africa. It is, in places, virtually word for word.

Quebec's school segregation laws have decimated the English language school system, and its community.

In 1970, there were 250,000 students in Quebec's English-language school system. This had declined by 57 per cent to 108,000 by 1990 and slowly edged back to 122,834 by 2003.

There is a further asymmetry of rights in this regard.

Prior to enactment of Quebec's language laws, immigrants to Quebec could freely choose to send their children to either English or French publicly-funded schools. Now they can't.

The Quebec government -- both separatist and non-separatist alike -- have been unwilling to put into effect section 23.1.a of Canada's Charter of Rights and freedoms because they refuse to enact the provisions of section 59 of Canada's constitution. As a result, an inequality exists between Quebec and all other Canadian provinces.

Immigrants from French-speaking countries, such as France, whose first language is French, can come to any of the English-speaking provinces outside Quebec, become citizens, and have the constitutional right to send their children to French publicly-funded schools.

However, immigrants from English-speaking countries, such as the United States, whose first language is English, and who come to Quebec and become citizens, do not have the constitutional right to send their children to English publicly-funded schools.

All it would take to eliminate this inequality is a proclamation by the legislation or government of Quebec.

Bill 101 has attempted to eradicate the English language from Quebec since its inception. Only numerous rulings from domestic and international courts have held Quebec's human rights violations in check.

For example, in December 1988, Quebec overrode a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision that found the language of commercial signs provisions of Bill 101 in violation of both Quebec's and Canada's Charters of Rights and officially suspended freedom of speech and equality rights. Then-Premier Robert Bourassa, the author of the law, bragged that "we have suspended fundamental liberties."

Tony Kondaks is the author of Why Canada Must End, which can be read in its entirety online at www.whycanadamustend.com