An Act to promote the French language in Québec
Bill 63, more formally known as the Loi pour promouvoir la langue française au Québec (or "Law to promote the French language in Quebec"), was a language law passed in 1969 in the Canadian province of Quebec. The law was passed by the Union Nationale government of Jean-Jacques Bertrand because of controversy and violence that erupted when the Catholic school board of Saint Leonard, Quebec insisted that children of mostly Italian immigrants be required to go to French schools. Section 2 of the Bill made available for all residents of Quebec the option of an English-language education for anyone desiring it for the children in their care. This right has popularly become known as "freedom of choice."
The law promoted French by:
- requiring that the Education ministry ensure that students graduating from English schools in Quebec have a working knowledge of French;
- making French courses available to all students enrolled in Quebec schools;
- requiring the Education ministry to make French courses available to all immigrants entering Quebec;
- expanding the mandate of the Office québécois de la langue française.
The law was passed before the resulting Gendron Commission was set up to make recommendations addressing Quebec's language issue. It fell short of the expectations of many citizens (among them many Quebec Nationalists) promoting that French become the common public language of all Quebec residents. The main criticism of the law was that it kept in place the existing educational system, under which all Quebec residents could send their children to schools whose language of instruction was either French or English. Opposition to the law led to the coalition Mouvement Québec français.