Quebec Education Minister Pierre Duchesne
Credits: ANNIE T ROUSSEL/QMI AGENCY
The Parti Quebecois is talking about an action plan to impose French across the city where most of the province's English people live.
"The sustainability of the Quebec nation is not guaranteed and the status quo won't guarantee it," Education Minister Pierre Duchesne said.
"We're a nationalist government that will do everything to promote this language.
"It takes a Charter of the French Language that's powerful enough to protect French in North America," the former CBC reporter added.
The percentage of Montrealers with French as their mother tongue dropped to 56.5% in 2011 from 62.4% a decade earlier, Statistics Canada says.
French speakers across Quebec declined slightly, to 78.9% in 2011 from 79.6% in 2006.
Jean-Francois Lisee is Premier Pauline Marois' liaison with the English community, but he said Wednesday that his government wants to make sure Montreal remains mostly French.
"(A) predominantly French-speaking Montreal is a legitimate national objective," he said, using the word "national" to refer to Quebec.
"The fewer francophones on the island, the fewer francophones to integrate the others," Lisee added, with "others" a reference to immigrants.
The PQ's envoy to anglophones made it clear that immigrants who speak foreign languages are not the problem - English is the problem.
"The fact that a number of foreign-born Montrealers keep their first language for a long time (is) perfectly legitimate," he said.
"It's not a growth of English."
Lisee said it's up to the Quebec government to introduce incentives to stop French families from moving off-island.
An action plan will be presented "in the weeks and months to come," Lisee promised.
Marois has already said she wants to extend French-language laws to small businesses and federal agencies in Quebec.
The premier has also said she'll bar francophones and immigrants from attending English community colleges or even English daycares.
But the PQ will have difficulty cracking down on English given the party's minority status in the legislature.