10/18/2012 02:16 EDT | Updated 12/18/2012 05:12 EST

PQ backtracks on plan to extend French Language Charter to daycare centres

QUEBEC - The Parti Quebecois backtracked Thursday on a comment by one of its cabinet ministers that Bill 101 will be extended to daycare centres.

Family Minister Nicole Leger told The Canadian Press earlier this week that immigrants to Quebec who want to send their children to daycare would have to do so in French.

Not so fast was the reaction of the cabinet minister who is actually responsible for the French Language Charter.

"There's no way we'll apply Bill 101 in daycare centres the way it is applied in elementary and secondary schools," Diane De Courcy said Thursday.

De Courcy said she wants young children to be in contact with French but not to be cut off from their mother tongue.

She said Premier Pauline Marois will give more details of the PQ strategy when the national assembly reconvenes at the end of the month.

Leger's comments went down like a lead balloon with the Quebec Liberals, with interim leader Jean-Marc Fournier deriding them as "another attack on individual freedoms."<

"There's a limit on on how much the state can decide for people," Fournier said.

The PQ has also made noises about extending Bill 101 to post-secondary junior colleges.

Bill 101 was passed by the PQ government in 1977 and makes it compulsory for the children of most immigrants to attend French-language schools.

The law imposes restrictions on the use of languages other than French on commercial signs and makes French the official language of the workplace in companies with more than 50 employees.

The PQ has spoken at length about extending that provision to firms with between 11 and 50 workers.