Duceppe: NDP must back Bill 101 for federal companies in Quebec
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe speaks at a news conference Wednesday, September 16, 2015 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
MONTREAL -- All federally regulated companies operating in Quebec should respect the province's language laws, Gilles Duceppe said Tuesday as he called on the NDP to get behind him on the question of protecting the French language.
Banks, railroads, telecommunications firms and interprovincial transport companies are exempt from Quebec's language legislation, known as Bill 101, which forces firms to make French the official language of the workplace.
The Bloc Quebecois estimates there are roughly 200,000 workers in Quebec who are employed by companies that fall under federal jurisdiction.
On the campaign trail in Montreal, Duceppe said he would table a bill that would force federally regulated companies to conform to Bill 101, but only in Quebec.
He said the NDP's solution is to have federal companies voluntarily follow Bill 101, a proposal Duceppe called a "smokescreen."
Duceppe called on NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, whose party is polling first in Quebec, to prove he really is a protector of Bill 101 and to stand with the Bloc on the issue.
The Bloc leader did not make the same demands of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau or Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.
Duceppe also expressed concern about the ongoing free-trade negotiations between Canada and several other countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
He said he is particularly worried about whether the country's supply management system would be affected if and when Canada signs an agreement.
Supply management, which controls prices and supply of certain industries including dairy and poultry, is important to Quebec farmers. Many are worried they won't be able to compete if Canada's markets are opened to products from international mega-farms.
Duceppe said no other party leader will say if they will refuse to sign the agreement if supply management is not maintained.