Quebéc’s big fight against English

Quebéc is demanding that out-of-town university students parle Français, lest they pay the price. 

What happened: Quebéc’s government plans to propose a measure that would raise tuition fees for out-of-province and international students at the province’s three English-language universities (McGill, Concordia, and Bishop’s) as a way to beat back Anglo incursions. 

  • "We're fed up with managing the decline [of French],” Québec Language Minister Jean-François Roberge told La Presse, “It's time to regain some ground."

  • Roberge also claimed that while 80% of Quebéc students attend French-language universities, only half of the 32,000 non-Québec students in the province do so.

Why it matters: The province's fight to ‘save’ French isn’t entirely misplaced. The latest census showed that French use declined in all provinces between 2016 and 2021, including Québec, where 74.8% said French was their mother tongue compared to 77.1% previously.  

  • Québec’s most notable action to protect the French language happened last year when it passed Bill 96, which created stricter language requirements for businesses, civil admin, and immigration services. Parts of the law came into effect this June.

Yes, but: As critics point out, Bill 96 makes life difficult for anyone who doesn’t speak French. While the law is being challenged in court, it hasn’t stopped the province from doubling down — be it the university proposal or a plan to make  French fluency a requirement for new immigrants.—QH