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Quebec's Bill 101 language law turning 40 years old

Last Updated Aug 22, 2017 at 5:20 pm EDT

Quebec Premier Rene Levesque attends a meeting in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 1979. A group that defends the French language is urging the Quebec government to do more to enforce Bill 101 as the 40th anniversary of the landmark language law approaches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP

MONTREAL – A group that defends the French language is urging the Quebec government to do more to enforce Bill 101 as the 40th anniversary of the landmark language law approaches.

Partenaires pour un Quebec francais says the government is failing in its mission to adequately defend the language.

Its members, who include prominent labour leaders as well as the head of the main artists’ union, held a news conference Tuesday — four days before the 40th anniversary of the law coming into effect.

They said not enough is being done to ensure the law is being applied in its entirety.

“Unfortunately, the government is doing nothing to make sure that French is the language of the state,” said Christian Daigle, head of the union that represents civil servants in various departments and government agencies.

“On paper, everything is fine and dandy, but in reality it’s not.”

The bill was adopted on Aug. 26, 1977, by Rene Levesque’s Parti Quebecois government, which had swept to power the previous November.

It forces immigrants to attend French-language school and places limits on the use of languages other than French on commercial signs.

The legislation is widely cited as a major reason so many English-speaking Quebecers left the province in the latter half of the 1970s.