The Toronto Star
Saturday, June 21, 1997

Montreal party officials resign over language

by Robert McKenzie

QUEBEC CITY -- Premier Lucien Bouchard faces a rebellion among his party officials in the Montreal area over his government's latest compromise on the language issue.

All eight members of the Parti Québécois' Montreal region executive resigned in protest yesterday.

The rebels from the Montreal-Centre group of 14 PQ riding associations include president Bruno Viens, one of the most visible younger sovereignists.

In a written statement released last night, the eight rebels said Bouchard's compromise deal with the Liberals over linguistic school boards ``has dealt a fatal blow to the Charter of the French Language.''

The Bouchard government made the compromise on Wednesday to get Liberal support for its bid to end religion-based school boards.

Quebec needs federal approval for a constitutional amendment to replace its denominational school boards with boards based on language.

While parents with children in French schools will have to pay their taxes to French boards and vote there, other Quebecers - including anglophones with no right to send their children to English schools - will be allowed to vote in English board elections and pay their taxes there.

The dissidents depicted the Bouchard government as caving in to the English-rights lobby group Alliance Quebec and Federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion.

The PQ dissidents predicted the English minority will use the concessions made by Bouchard to chip away further at Law 101, the French Language Charter.

The Montreal-Centre group, some of whom were identified with the 24 per cent non-confidence vote Bouchard received at a PQ convention last fall, said the language compromise is only one of their complaints.

The budgetary cutbacks in health, education, and other sectors imposed by the Bouchard government in its bid to achieve a zero Quebec deficit by 2000 ``are not elements of social democracy'', the group said.

Copyright © 1997 by The Toronto Star. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.