MONTREAL - Premier Jean Charest said the Parti Quebecois has become more radical after opening the door to imposing language restrictions from pre-kindergarten to college.

He said fringe elements were exerting more influence over the party's current leader - Pauline Marois - than they did any of her predecessors.

"Madame Marois is radicalizing the Parti Quebecois," Charest told a news conference Monday.

"She's now ready to contemplate solutions that neither Rene Levesque, or Lucien Bouchard, Jacques Parizeau, Bernard Landry were ready to contemplate."

At a weekend convention, the PQ boss suggested the party could impose tougher language laws.

As it stands, children from kindergarten through Grade 11 have only two options if they want to study in English: they must attend private school or prove that one of their parents studied in English within Canada.

Many immigrant and francophone students currently seek to learn English in college by enrolling in anglophone post-secondary institutions.

But the PQ says that's causing an erosion of French on the island of Montreal, and it's now musing about extending language restrictions to daycare and college.

Marois did not make a clear commitment over the weekend but thrilled PQ delegates by promising that, if she becomes premier, she will address the situation.

She says that, after decades of language squabbles, she doesn't want to disturb the linguistic peace that has taken hold in Quebec in recent years. But she warns that if Montreal becomes more English, that peace will shatter on its own.

Charest heaped ridicule on his chief opponent.

"It's actually quite bizarre when you think of it," he said. "She mobilizes all these people around this issue, and she has no opinion. She's not going to stay where she stands."

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