Quebec passes motion for politicians to stop making opening remarks in English at National Assembly

On the same day Quebec Premier François Legault announced 16 new deaths from COVID-19 — the highest number of deaths in Quebec since June —his government also stirred up a debate about the French language and the use of English in the Quebec National Assembly.

Read more: Quebec government’s moves to protect French language spark debate amid pandemic

This comes a week after the leader of the Liberal Party created controversy for making an opening speech in both languages.

Dominique Anglade was interrupted in the middle of a press conference at the National Assembly by a reporter frustrated she chose to give opening remarks in French and English.

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But Thursday morning, the National Assembly unanimously passed a motion “that speeches by Members of the National Assembly to the Quebec Parliamentary Press Gallery should be done, as is the custom and tradition, in French, except for public health reasons.”

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Anglade said she had no trouble supporting the motion, which was meant to address press conferences like hers.

“It’s exactly what’s being done right now at the National Assembly. It doesn’t change anything,” she said.

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The motion has angered the press gallery, who says the government is using journalists to play politics.

“We take a dim view of the fact the press gallery was dragged today into a political fight. We do not accept that and we want to denounce that,” said Marco Bélair-Cirino, the Quebec Parliamentary Press Gallery president.

Read more: Quebec passes motion for store clerks to stop saying ‘bonjour, hi’

A spokesperson for the government house leader, Simon Jolin-Barrette, said the Coalition Avenir Quebec is not posturing or playing political games.

“For us, French is a priority,” said Élisabeth Gosselin.

Quebec says protecting French language a priority

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