A Quebec civil rights group that has lain dormant for years has suddenly started seeing an upsurge in membership since the election of the Coalition Avenir Québec government last fall, despite the fact it has not been recruiting.
Canadian Rights in Quebec (CRITIQ), formed in 2012 in response to proposed language legislation by the Parti Québécois that would have restricted access to English services, has increased by more than 400 members in the last months, organizers say. This despite the fact their website has been inactive for two years and the group has made no recent efforts to contact potential adherents.
“We know why: Bill 21 is really what’s initiating a lot of these people, who are reaching out and Googling ‘Canadian rights’ and ‘Quebec,’ ” said Gary Shapiro, founder and chairman of the organization. “That and the school board issues. Slowly and surely (the government) is making English disappear from the province.
“I was surprised but also saddened by the fact there are people clutching at anything to help them out. It’s a sad reality. It’s the slow downhill course.”
CRITIQ was created in response to Bill 14, legislation by the Parti Québécois to reform its Charter of the French Language. It describes itself as dedicated to protecting fundamental civil rights outlined under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, promoting the strength of the province’s English and French and multicultural heritage, and working to improve Montreal’s economic outlook. In 2013, it called on the Quebec government to amend Article 1 of the city charter to make Montreal a bilingual city.
Within a few months of its inception, the group said it had 10,000 members but then flatlined after the PQ fell to the [...]