04/17/2013 08:01 EDT | Updated 06/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Speaking Official Language 'Not A Human Right'

Quebec’s human rights commission is criticizing the proposed changes to the province’s language laws under Bill 14.

The controversial language bill would make some significant changes to Quebec’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including designating the use of an official language as a “human right.”

The commission’s president, Gaétan Cousineau, told a special committee at the national assembly that official languages are not considered human rights around the world.

He said both Quebec’s charter and the Canadian Constitution already cover language rights, and that most of the rights Bill 14 is meant to protect are already addressed in existing legislation.

“The official language is not a human right,” he said.

Cousineau said Bill 14 would, in some instances, replace “democratic values” with “Quebec values” — a small change that would prompt big questions.

“Are democratic values and Quebec values similar, or identical?” he asked.

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