(Ottawa) The deputy Emmanuella Lambropoulos made “contemptuous” remarks and she affirmed “out loud what the Liberals think quietly” while expressing doubts about the decline of French in Quebec, thundered the Conservatives and the Bloc.
The skepticism displayed by the elected backbenchman on the Standing Committee on Official Languages last Friday inspired the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois to several attacks during question period in the House of Commons on Monday.
“The member for Saint-Laurent said out loud what the Liberals are thinking. In addition, she said it in English, to tell you the importance she attaches to French […] There is only one official language in Quebec, one endangered language, and that is French, ”insisted MP Mario Beaulieu.
His Conservative colleague Gérard Deltell vigorously criticized the member in question for having had “the nerve” to question, moreover by using “contemptuous” and “disrespectful” words, the fragility of French in Quebec, because ” it does not take the head to Papineau ”to see it, he stormed.
It was the Minister responsible for official languages, Mélanie Joly, who replied. “It goes without saying that we recognize that French is facing a setback in Montreal, Quebec, the country. Studies show, these are facts, and that’s why we’re going to act, ”she said by videoconference.
The action must include the tabling of a bill to modernize the Official Languages Act, a project that has been in motion for months and which required extensive consultations with stakeholders.
The Conservative Party is starting to find that the introduction of legislation is starting to be slow.
“I need to see it to believe it”
The young liberal elected – who caused the surprise in a by-election in March 2017 by having the upper hand over the former Quebec minister Yolande James and the tax expert Marwah Rizqy, now a member of the National Assembly – has cringe with his intervention in the virtual committee.
“We hear – I don’t mean to call this a myth; I will give the benefit of the doubt – we hear that the French language is in decline in Quebec. I have heard this over and over. I need to see it to believe it, ”she said at the outset in English.
After inviting her interlocutor to analyze what could be hidden behind this “conception”, she concludes with this question: “What in your opinion contributes to this decline of French in Quebec? “By pronouncing the word” decline “, she makes the gesture of drawing quotes (air quotes).
It was addressed to the Commissioner of Official Languages, Raymond Théberge.
Contrary to the government position
The next day, Mme Lambropoulos backtracked by posting a statement on social media.
“I recognize that there is a decline in French and I would like to help find ways to further protect the French language,” she said, saying “regret” the “insensitive question” she asked. during the virtual meeting of the parliamentary committee.
It must be said that the doubts expressed by the elected Montrealer go against the certainty of the Liberals.
Because the Trudeau government took care to recall the fragility of French in the Speech from the Throne at the end of September, by declaring that the federal government has the responsibility to “protect and promote French not only outside Quebec, but also in Quebec ”.
Minister Joly also reiterated this position a few days later in an interview with Press – an article she shared on social media on Sunday afternoon.
“The Speech from the Throne recognizes that French requires special protection. This is even more true in Montreal, a French-speaking city. Let’s give our language the place it deserves ”, we can read in a word accompanying its publication.
In a report on the evolution of the linguistic situation in Quebec published in April 2019, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) concluded that the use of French as the sole language of reception in businesses on the island of Montreal had fallen from 84% to 75% compared to 2010.