This legislation raised opposition from many nationalists, since they were reluctant to accept any compromises on the protection of French. Nor did the amendment, which allowed some use of English, placate either those who had sought an end to the law which made Québec a unilingual province. Historically, Québec's anglophone and non-French speaking population had supported the provincial Liberal party. In 1976, however, angered by the government's passage of BILL 22, which mandated French as the province's official language, this constituency registered their anger by voting somewhat surprisingly for the Union Nationale. This party had received in the past only thin support from anglophone and non-French speaking voters. By the mid-1980s, the Union Nationale was no longer a political force in Québec. In its place, the Equality Party was formed, with 4 of its candidates being elected in the 1989 provincial election. In the subsequent election, in 1994, these 4 members were defeated.
The provisions of Bill 178, assented to on 22 December 1988, only 3 days after it was introduced, could "operate notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph b) of section 2 or section 15 of the Constitution Act, 1982 . . . and apply despite sections 3 and 10 of the (Québec) CHARTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS." However, the Constitution Act made it mandatory to re-examine the bill and this notwithstanding clause at the end of a 5-year period. Bill 86, introduced in 1993, was grounded on this specific constraint.
Author R. HUDON