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Quebec’s next budget to address needs of anglophones: Weil

“Quebec’s minister responsible for anglophone issues is raising hopes that the concerns and needs of the province’s English-speaking communities will be tackled in a concrete way in Quebec’s next budget.”

Minister Kathleen Weil held an all-day forum at Concordia University to hear from about 40 leaders of groups and institutions that serve the English-speaking communities of Quebec. Weil told that the Liberal government intends to present a five-year action plan on issues they have brought to her attention in online consultations. She also said the new Secretariat will become a permanent part of the Quebec government.

QCGN President James Shea said Weil’s commitment is a real, true agreement to engage the English-speaking community. Sharlene Sullivan, executive director of the Neighbours Regional Association of Rouyn-Noranda said she is concerned about a “backlash” against the new-found attention English-speakers are getting from the government.

Read the article in the Montreal Gazette

Anglos have long list of grievances, Quebec document reveals on eve of Montreal forum

“With English-speaking Quebecers bluntly saying they feel like a “square peg in a round hole,” a cabinet minister says a plan to deal with the community’s frustration and angst will go beyond symbolism and offer concrete ideas to ensure its vitality.”

On the eve of a Montreal forum gathering minority English-language groups from across the province, the Minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, Kathleen Weil, reported productive discussions about the future of the community during her visits of the past two months across the province. The list of grievances that has emerged: breaking the myth of wealthy privilege; increasing the number of English-speaking Quebecers within the Quebec public service; and others.

The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomed news of the forum and the promises, but said successive government have failed to act on those promises. Communications director Rita Legault said the QCGN is counting on the Minister to come up with an action plan that will make a real difference for English-speaking Quebecers.

Read the article in the Montreal Gazette

Celine Cooper: Let’s ensure age-friendly Montreal is inclusive

“The Plante administration recently announced that it will hold public consultations on its new Municipal Action Plan for Seniors 2018-2020. It has since been criticized (rightly, in my opinion) by two research organizations based at Concordia University for developing a plan using a process that excludes some of Montreal’s most vulnerable and marginalized seniors, including unilingual anglophones, immigrants and people with limited mobility.”

Celine Cooper argues that the Plante administration is not trying hard enough to reach Montreal’s most vulnerable in consultation on how to make Montreal more senior-friendly. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante added a new English consultation meeting on Feb. 26 at the Cummings Centre, but the consultation website remains entirely in French.

While noting she was research project manager for a QCGN study, Cooper explains how Montreal’s English-speaking seniors do not form a uniform group and that they have needs and priorities that are unique and not like their French-speaking counterparts.

Read the article in the Montreal Gazette

Allison Hanes: Promises to anglos must be realized before election

“The next Quebec election is still eight months away, but already it’s starting. The quadrennial flirtation between political parties and Quebec anglophones, that most awkward and unfulfilling of courtships, is upon us again.”

Montreal Gazette columnist Allison Hanes is asking Quebec’s political parties to do better if they hope to gain the vote of English-speaking Quebecers. Notably, Hanes presents Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault promises at a radio interview to CJAD’s Leslie Roberts as disconnected and the Quebec Liberals’ past actions on Bill 10, school boards reform and Bill 62 as far from heartfelt for the English-speaking community.

Hanes refers to an editorial board meeting with the Quebec Community Groups Network where the organization suggested the new Secretariat must be enshrined in law by the National Assembly. The QCGN said the secretariat is key to ensuring community interests are considered, especially by people in the civil service who draft policy and design programs.

Read the article in the Montreal Gazette

Couillard says Liberals are ready to rumble as election countdown begins

“The Liberals have 312 days ahead to prove they merit the renewed confidence of Quebecers and the party is up to the task, Premier Philippe Couillard said Friday.”

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard appeared in campaign mode as he addressed voters and his party at the Quebec Liberal Party convention. Couillard said the Liberals are prepared to create a Quebec that is modern, welcoming, able to overcome obstacles and without limits in his opening speech. The party convention begun the day after Couillard delivered on the promise of creating a Secretariat dedicated to English-speaking Quebecers.

The QCGN welcomed the initiative and applauded the choice of William Floch to head the new Secretariat. However, they calling it “a small, albeit promising” first step to ensure the concerns of English-speakers are heard in the government machine. They thought the $1-million budget allocated to its operations might not be enough to make an important step forward.

Read the article in the Montreal Gazette

Strong, resilient, tireless: Quebec awards celebrate engaged citizens

“Claudia Di Iorio, an advocate for road safety, won the Young Quebecer Leading the Way Award in 2017.  She is only 23, but Montrealer Claudia Di Iorio has known more pain than many.”

After her near-fatal collision, Claudia Di Iorio marshalled remarkable strength and resilience and now serves as a spokesperson for Cool Taxi while sitting as a member of the SAAQ board.

Di Iorio is one of five Quebecers being honoured with awards from the Quebec Community Groups Network. She will receive the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award. Another QCGN award, the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award, will go to four people

Read the article in the Montreal Gazette

Kathleen Weil has long history of serving English-speaking Quebecers

“For Kathleen Weil, it was one of those ‘Mom would be proud’ moments of her life. The mother who made her daughter wear green ribbons in her hair to school on St. Patrick’s Day was very proud of her family’s Irish and Scottish roots, Weil said in an interview with the Montreal Gazette.”

Following the nomination of Kathleen Weil as minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebeckers, political columnist Philip Authier interviewed her to get a better sense of her expectations on the job. She had to defend her credentials to take on the job, especially since it’s the first time a Liberal government has created such a position.

Her past experiences as director of legal affairs at the now-defunct anglophone rights group Alliance Quebec was also mentioned. Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the QCGN, said it’s important for the English-speaking community to have someone that they can talk to.

Read the article on Montreal Gazette’s website

Cabinet shuffle: Couillard hopes fresh blood helps rejuvenate Liberals

“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.

Read Philip Authier’s article in the Montreal Gazette

Allison Hanes: Ready for a reset at the MUHC

“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.

Read the article in the Montreal Gazette

Trailblazing journalist Gretta Chambers bridged Quebec’s two solitudes

“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.

Read the article in the Globe and Mail