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.
In the 1960s, the government of the Province of Quebec commissioned a report about the state of the French language in Quebec. The report showed that in some areas of the province residents who spoke only French were having difficulty finding employment and conducting everyday business. As a result, plans were begun to form a committee, called the Gendron Commission, to make recommendations for promoting the use of French in Quebec.
When the Catholic school board of Saint Leonard, Quebec insisted that children of mostly Italian immigrants be required to go to French schools, controversy and violence erupted. In response, the Union Nationale government of Jean-Jacques Bertrand passed Bill 63 without waiting for the Gendron Commission.
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 become known as "freedom of choice."
The law also promoted the French language, 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.
Bill 63 fell short of the expectations of many citizens (among them many Quebec Nationalists) who expected that French would 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.
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