Official Language Act (Quebec)


Official Language Act (Quebec)

The Official Language Act of 1974 (French Loi sur la langue officielle), also known as Bill 22, is an act of the National Assembly of Quebec which made French the sole official language of Quebec, a province of Canada. It was ultimately supplanted by the Charter of the French Language (also known as Bill 101) in 1977.

The legislation was drafted in an attempt to follow the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry on the Situation of the French Language and Linguistic Rights in Quebec. The act made French the official language in a number of areas:

  • Language of commercial signing (the use of French was required)
  • Language of labour relations and business (businesses wanting to deal with the state had to apply for francization programs)
  • Language of instruction (English language public school was restricted to children who had a "sufficient" knowledge of this language)
  • Language of legislation and justice (priority was given to French texts in case of ambiguity)

Objections to Bill 22

That English is an official language in Quebec as well, was declared on July 19, 1974 by McGill University law faculty's most expert counsellors, disputing Bill 22. The testifiers were Dean Frank R. Scott, John Peters Humphrey, chief planner of the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights, Irwin Cotler and four additional legal teachers:[1]

Section 1, which provides that French is 'the official language of the province of Quebec,' is misleading in that it suggests that English is not also an official language in Quebec, which it is by virtue of Section 133 of the BNA Act and the federal Official Languages Act. ... No legislation in the National Assembly proclaiming French the sole official language in the province can affect these bilingual areas protected by the BNA Act.

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