Quebec Bill 96 - Time For a Primer on Amending the Constitution


  • Ian Peach University of Alberta



On May 13, 2021, the Government of Quebec introduced Bill 96, “An Act Respecting French, the Official and Common Language of Quebec” in the Quebec National Assembly.1 Bill 96 is a multi-faceted, and fairly sweeping, modernization of the Charter of the French Language, commonly known as Bill 101. It is primarily an attempt to use the power of the state to ensure that French is used more in Quebec, that more Quebecers are educated in French, and that anyone who wants to learn French has access to French lessons.2 As there is some evidence that French is being used less in Quebec than it has been in recent decades, the government wants to act to make French the “common language of Quebec,” as the Bill’s title suggests. While a number of the provisions of Bill 96 may violate the rights of the English-language minority in the province, which is a matter that should be of concern to all Canadians and the Government of Canada, I want to address another issue with the constitutionality of Bill 96.

1 Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, 1st Sess, 42nd Leg, Québec, 2021 (first reading 13 May 2021), online: < projet-loi-96-42-1.html> [An Act Respecting French].
2 Kate McKenna, “Quebec seeks to change Canadian Constitution, make sweeping changes to language laws with new bill”, CBC News (14 May