Official Language Act (Quebec)

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Not to be confused with Official Languages Act (Canada).

The Official Language Act of 1974[1] (French Loi sur la langue officielle), also known as Bill 22, was an act of the National Assembly of Quebec, commissioned by Premier Robert Bourassa, which made French the sole official language of Quebec, Canada. Provincial desire for the Official Language Act came after the repeal of Bill 63.[2] It was ultimately supplanted by the Charter of the French Language (also known as Bill 101) in 1977, which imposed French as the only language for advertising and education (with many exceptions).[3]

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:[4][5]

  • Language of services (must be primarily offered in French)
  • 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[edit]

That English was 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:[6]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Official Language Act, S.Q. 1974, s. 6.
  2. ^ Hudon, R. "Bill 22". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica-Dominion. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Charter of the French Language, RSQ, c. C-11.
  4. ^ "Speaking out: Quebec's debate over language laws". CBC News. CBC News. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Charter of the French Language, RSQ, c C-11". CanLii. Canadian Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Johnson, William (31 August 2007). "English-speaking Quebecers must wake up and defend their rights". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 

External links[edit]