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Quebec's push to change Constitution could impact all Canadians: Experts

OTTAWA — Experts say Quebec’s proposed language law reforms, which aim to change the Canadian Constitution unilaterally, could have an impact that reaches beyond the symbolic sphere to daily life.

The provincial legislation, known as Bill 96, seeks to amend the Constitution to enshrine Quebec’s status as a nation and its official language as French.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that an initial Justice Department analysis concluded Quebec can go ahead with the changes without federal approval.

However, constitutional expert Emmett Macfarlane says that at a minimum Quebec would need to win authorization from the House of Commons and the Senate.

Michael Feder, a lawyer with expertise in constitutional law, says would-be constitutional changes could have legal ramifications across the country and open the door to greater provincial power for Quebec or the exclusive use of French in its legislature.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, who says the bill will not encroach on anglophone rights, is planning to table a motion in the House next week that calls on lawmakers to back the two constitutional provisions and steer clear of any legal challenges to the legislation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press