MONTREAL - Quebec can unilaterally modify part of the Canadian Constitution, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.
The province's proposed language law reform, introduced last week, seeks to change part of the Constitution to affirm that Quebec is a nation and that its official language is French.
Trudeau told reporters that the federal government's initial analysis has concluded Quebec can make the changes.
"It is perfectly legitimate for a province to modify the section of the Constitution that applies specifically to them and that is something they can do while ensuring, of course, that the rest of the Constitution, including the sections that protect linguistic minorities, like anglophones in Quebec, continue to be respected."
He said Quebec can alter the Constitution to emphasize that it is a nation and that its official language is French — adding that both have already been recognized by the federal government.
Trudeau said he's concerned about protecting French in Quebec and in the rest of Canada.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said he was pleased by Trudeau's comments.
"I'm happy because he confirmed that we were right when we said that we can unilaterally amend the constitution," he told reporters in Quebec City. "Of course we're happy to see that the prime minister of Canada recognized that we had the right to do so."
Quebec's language law reform also includes tougher sign laws and stronger language requirements for schools, governments and businesses, including those in federally regulated industries.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.