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On Thursday, there was a blue banner running along the top of the English section of the city of Montreal’s website with the phrase “Who can view this page? This content is intended for the public covered by the exceptions under Bill 96.”
By Sunday, the banner was no longer there.
Bill 96, which became law on June 1, 2022, brought sweeping changes to the Charter of the French language. In one of the concrete signs new rules covering the language of government services included in the law are now in effect, various municipal and other government websites have started to ask citizens to attest they have the right to services in English.
The text of the city of Montreal advisory said: “If you continue to browse this website in English, you acknowledge that you belong to one of the following groups that are designated as exceptions under the new legislation.”
Catherine Cadotte, press attaché to Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and the executive committee, said Sunday evening the advisory is a requirement of Bill 96; the banner will have a place in the English version of the city’s website, she said, but it will be at the bottom of the page. As of Sunday evening, however, no banner was visible.
Clicking on Laval’s English section takes you to the site of the provincial government’s French-language ministry and an explanation of who is eligible to use its site in English.
The exceptions, according to Bill 96, include people who have been declared eligible for English language schooling; Indigenous communities and Inuit; immigrants, for the first six months after they arrive; people who don’t live in Quebec and those who corresponded with the administration in English only before May 13, 2021.
Jean-François Roberge, Quebec’s minister of the French Language, has explained the system is based on a simple statement made in good faith and no proof is required. Similar rules will apply when citizens ask for government services in person.