“Quebec’s new minister for relations with anglo Quebecers says don’t expect her to spearhead changes to Quebec’s language law.”
Kathleen Weil spoke with Leslie Roberts on CJAD 800 on Thursday morning for the first time since being given the job in Wednesday’s cabinet shuffle.
“Premier Philippe Couillard’s Wednesday cabinet shuffle, designed to give the aging Liberal regime a mix of new youthful panache and sage management, is in reality a calculated attempt to put out the numerous brush fires endangering the Liberal brand.”
Quebec’s anglophone lobby, the QCGN, wanted a greater direct voice in decision-making. They now have a minister in the cabinet, Kathleen Weil. Although Couillard’s shuffle seems to be solving most problems he had during his mandate, it’s seen as a rejuvenated technique to boost on Quebecers’ desire for change.
One big news in the shuffle was Couillard’s decision to act on a promise he made and give the English-speaking community a greater voice in his government. The QCGN welcomed Weil as a “strong advocate” while former Equality Party Leader Robert Libman said it was nothing more than a symbolic gesture.
“Kathleen Weil is calling her appointment as minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers ‘historic.’ “
Premier Philippe Couillard had already promised to create a secretariat to deal with English-speaking Quebecers’ issues. Now, following his latest cabinet shuffle, the government will have a minister dedicated to the task. Kathleen Weil, of Scottish-Irish descent, studied at McGill University. She said her office will relay concerns and priorities of Quebec’s English speakers to the government.
Community groups hope this cabinet shuffle means a fresh start in the province’s approach to the English-language minority. Michelle Eaton-Lusignan commented about the specific situation of the community while Helena Burke from CAMI asked to adapt programs to account for the realities of smaller communities. On Twitter, the QCGN welcomed and congratulated the new minister.
“When Philippe Couillard was aspiring to be Quebec Liberal leader, he and Kathleen Weil met with members of the province’s main English-speaking advocacy group to discuss its wish for a secretariat of anglophone affairs.”
Six years later, the Quebec Community Groups Network has what it wanted. James Shea, president of the QCGN, thinks it means the community has been listened to. For now, Weil is a minister without a department, but a secretariat is soon to be revealed.
The creation of a secretariat would be an historic step and will ensure a dedicated bureaucracy inside the civil service to work on behalf of English-speaking Quebecers. Sylvia Martin-Laforge hopes a couple dozen employees are hired, and would far outreach the Montreal-area. Helena Burke, head of CAMI, thinks that office would be important for the Madgalen Islands’ community.
“Political shuffles are always a bit of a guessing game, but Premier Philippe Couillard has repeatedly said that he wants to bring “new blood” into the cabinet. “
Couillard’s minister shuffle is expected be younger, but also to included a minister responsible for anglophone affairs. Appointing an English-speaking Quebecer would give their population representation at the highest level of civil service. There are also talks that Couillard will create a secretariat on the subject.
The Quebec Community Groups Network says this is a promising development, welcoming the signal it sends to English-speaking Quebecers.
“Hundreds of people gathered at the Church of Saint-Léon-de-Westmount on Sept. 16 to honour the life and accomplishments of Gretta Chambers, former McGill Chancellor and beloved journalist, political commentator, and community builder. Chambers passed away on Sept. 9 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal due to a serious heart condition.”
In this tribute to Mrs. Chambers, Sylvia Martin-Laforge praises her deep understanding of national and international environment; an educator in the most holistic way. The article then follows in presenting her different accomplishments on the professional front, as journalist at the Montreal Gazette and as host at CFCF, as well as her community involvement.
“Les députés fédéraux reprennent le chemin de la Chambre des communes, ce lundi 18 septembre. La Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) du Canada prévoit un automne mouvementé et attend un geste de la part du premier ministre en matière de langues officielles.”
FCFA’s president, Jean Johnson, is asking for a meeting with Trudeau to talk about immigration and to meet with ministers. Johnson always awaits a new nomination for the next Commissioner of Official Languages.
NDP Critic on Official Languages, François Choquette, also is waiting this nomination following Madeleine Meilleur’s withdrawal. Choquette asked Minister Melanie Joly to make sure both the FCFA and QCGN are consulted on this matter.
“The dust has settled since 10 independent members of the McGill University Health Centre’s board of directors quit in disgust two months ago, leaving a gaping hole in the governance of one of Montreal’s most important hospital networks and a major political problem for Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.”
After the mass resignation of 10 board members and a lukewarm explanation to the English-speaking community, Gaétan Barrette said he has a list of 20 candidates from which to strike a new board. However, Allison Hanes writes that it takes bravery for anyone to step up and fix the MUHC, especially after the tense and toxic relationship between Barrette and the last board.
The QCGN was caught in the crossfire when it was revealed they were working quietly behind the scenes to overhaul the board. She also hinted that Barrette should choose wisely MUHC board members so they have legitimacy in eyes of the English-speaking population, also that this new board should be a way to reset the situation in this institution.
During CTV’s morning show Your Morning, Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the QCGN, and a Dawson College student, Simon Bérubé, discussed a measure that could limite English CEGEPs funding if the Parti Québécois is elected. Many reasons were put forward to limit the impact of its application, one of which would be its unconstitutionality. Furthermore, the French-speaking student explains that there is not much acceptance of such a measure since learning English allow young students to open themselves to the world.
Watch the interview below.
“As a journalist, a committed federalist and the first female chancellor of McGill University, Gretta Chambers was a multitasking trailblazer. Opinionated, forthright and gracious, this tiny, elegant woman bridged Quebec’s two solitudes effortlessly, explaining each group to the other – especially during turbulent times.”
This obituary written in the Globe and Mail celebrates Gretta Chambers’ many lifetime achievements. Michael Goldbloom, principal and vice-chancellor of Bishop’s University, praised her knowledge of both communities in Quebec, and reminisced about meeting her when attending Selwyn House at five years old.
It’s also where Michael met Geoffrey Chambers, now vice-president of the QCGN. Geoffrey also recounts the many great things Gretta has done for her son, from preparing meal for the entire football team, and the things she has done for her community.
“Le sort du général Jeffery Amherst, commandant en chef des forces britanniques pendant la guerre de Conquête, revient à l’ordre du jour. Le maire de Montréal, Denis Coderre, confirme son intention de renommer la rue qui porte son nom.”
In addition to changing Montreal’s Coat of Arms and official flag, Mayor Coderre wishes to modify street names in the city, like Amherst street, to help with Indigenous reconciliation. Some members of the English-speaking community have agreed with this decision, including city councillor Marvin Rotrand.
He suggested that the City could bring back some names that were withdrew from the city’s streets. Rita Legault, director of communications at the QCGN, mentioned that Amherst named was contradictory to Quebec values, and she also said the city was lacking English names, but also names from Indigenous, women and other communities’ origin.
“Gretta Chambers, the first female chancellor of McGill University and a prominent Montreal journalist for several decades, has died at the age of 90. She passed away Saturday morning at St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal after undergoing treatment for a heart condition. “
Daughter of a French-speaking mother and an English-speaking father, she saw her role as a builder of bridges between Quebec’s divided communities. For this role, in 2012, she received a Goldbloom Award for distinguished community service.
Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general of the QCGN, incensed Chambers’ accomplishments and said she embodied what was needed in Quebec to bridge both linguistic communities.
“Simon Berube loves Quebec, its culture, French language and people, but he and his parents decided the best thing he could do for his future was to enrol in one of the province’s English-language junior colleges.”
Many French-speaking Quebecers are choosing to attend Quebec’s English CEGEPs, a choice that could be revoked pending Parti Québécois’s win in 2018 elections.
Geoffrey Chambers, VP of the QCGN, says the English-speaking community of Quebec is used to have its institutions threatened by political parties, and this debate merely is identity politics.
“Gretta Chambers, a prominent journalist and the first female chancellor of McGill University, passed away Saturday morning at the age of 90 at St. Mary’s hospital in Montreal. “
Born in 1927, and a graduate from McGill in policial science, she married former MP Egan Chambers who died in 1994. She was one of the first English-speaking journalist to write extensively about French-speaking Quebec before becoming the first female chancellor of McGill University.
Sylvia Martin-Laforge, DG of the QCGN, which awarded Chambers with a Goldbloom Award in 2012, said that Gretta was a pioneer and role model for women, and for the English-speaking community.
“A Chateauguay mom will have to spends thousands of dollars a year and commute to Montreal to get private speech therapy for her young son because she was told she can’t get medicare-covered services in English close to home. “
A story sent to CJAD their community e-mail presents an injustice from a mother whose son has difficulty learning English. Even the waiting list for French services is 22 months long.
Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the QCGN, said it’s a tragic situation, but also a typical one in our healthcare system.