QCGN Eager to Contribute to Hearings on Modernization of the Official Languages Act

Montreal, March 11, 2019The Quebec Community Groups Network looks forward to contributing to cross-country consultations by Official Languages Minister Mélanie Joly on the modernization of the Official Languages Act, as Canadians celebrate the 50th anniversary of this pivotal law.

“The Official Languages Act is a lifeline for English-speaking Quebec,” said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers. “It is the only law that protects the linguistic interests of English-speaking Quebecers as a community. Having said that, after 50 years, the Act is somewhat antiquated and is in serious need of an update. We are particularly keen that English-speaking Quebec participates in the forums and towns halls announced by the Minister today.  We must make sure that our voices are heard.”

Over the past few years, the QCGN and its Francophone counterparts across Canada have been actively involved in discussions on ways to modernize the Act, including at hearings by both the House of Commons and Senate committees on Official Languages. We now look forward to providing input to Minister Joly, who is responsible for drafting the government’s proposals to modernize the act. (Read our brief here.)

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QCGN Calls on Premier Legault to Support English-speaking Community

Montreal – February 15, 2019 – Meeting with Premier François Legault on Friday for the first time since his election in October, the Quebec Community Groups Network called upon the Coalition Avenir Québec government to work in a collaborative environment to ensure a more vital and sustainable future for English-speaking Quebecers. 

In a cordial face-to-face meeting, QCGN representatives told Premier Legault, who is the Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, that our community is concerned about the zealous application of the Charter of the French Language, including a demand to remove English signage in hospitals. Members of our diverse community are also deeply troubled over the proposed ban on religious symbols.

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Shutdown of Riverdale destabilizing and ill-advised: QCGN

Montreal – January 28, 2019 – A steady stream of assurances that the government of Quebec Premier François Legault is taking the interests of Quebec’s English-speaking community into account has been contradicted by its actions – this time with the abrupt elimination of Riverdale High School from our English-language school system.

“While the Quebec government talks quite positively and in an often encouraging way about respecting community interests, to all appearances they don’t understand minority-language rights. Or they simply don’t care,” Geoffrey Chambers, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, declared following today’s announcement.

The immensely disruptive process to force dispersal of Riverdale’s 450 English-language students across the remainder of the Lester B. Pearson School Board network, before the next school years begins, is clearly improper, Chambers added: “It disregards long-accepted school-shutdown policy, which for good reason requires public consultation as part of a thoughtful, judicious 18-month process.  For the Quebec government to sidestep the rules in its own education act by exercising an extraordinary power (invoking Art. 477.1.1 of La Loi sur l’instruction publique) is dangerously destabilizing and ill-advised.”

“The government is using a hammer here, and we have to wonder where and how they will next grab it,” Chambers said: “Riverdale may mean there will be more pre-emptive exercise of ministerial power, despite all their soft words. It certainly suggests the so-called new service centres to replace school boards will be unable to protect community interests.”

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QCGN Begs to Differ on Premier’s Interpretation of English Signage in Hospitals

Montreal January 10, 2019 – Premier François Legault’s statement that English-speaking Quebecers have the right to services in their language but not to English signs is wrong. Bill 101 in no way prohibits the use of English on hospital signs as they relate to health and safety, maintains Geoffrey Chambers, President of the Quebec Community Groups Network.

“It’s senseless to argue that you have access to health and social services in English if you do not know where the services are located,” Chambers commented. “Not to have clear signage is an obstacle to services. If you cannot find the service, it is not available to you.”

In a press release issued only in French, the regional health authority in Lachute, Le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) des Laurentides, announced in December that it was removing English from all signs at the local hospital to be conform with Quebec’s Charter of the French Language. This decision followed an intervention by the Office québecois de la langue française.

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QCGN mourns loss of James Shea, educator and advocate for linguistic duality 

Montreal, December 30, 2018 – The Quebec Community Groups Network was profoundly saddened to learn of the death this weekend of former QCGN President James Shea. Beloved throughout our Network, Jim was also the immediate past president of the Regional Association of West Quebecers.

“Jim was a fervent advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and an impassioned proponent of bilingualism,” said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers. Jim led our Network during momentous times. Notably, he was serving at the helm when QCGN successfully advocated for increased support from the federal government’s Official Languages strategy as well as recognition from the provincial government that fostered creation of a Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

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English-speaking Community Will Not Abandon Schools Boards, QCGN Advises Premier

Montreal – December 14, 2018 – Quebec’s English-speaking community has absolutely no intention of heeding Premier François Legault’s advice that we abandon any plans to challenge the Coalition Avenir Quebec government’s scheme to abolish school boards and replace them with service centres.

Acknowledging that he and his Education Minister, Jean-François Roberge, have yet to discuss their plan with Quebec’s English-speaking community, the Premier told The Gazette yesterday that he is forging ahead with the controversial reform. Premier Legault dared to forecast that once service centres are in place, our community “will realize they lost nothing.”

“We disagree most emphatically,” the President of the Quebec Community Groups Network, Geoffrey Chambers, stated. “The Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in Mahe v. Alberta was crystal clear.  The Court ruled that minority language communities have the right to control and manage the educational facilities in which their children are taught, to both ensure and enable that our language and culture can flourish.”

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QCGN Denounces Cuts to French Language Services in Ontario

QCGN Denounces Cuts to French Language Services in Ontario

Montreal – November 15, 2018 – The Quebec Community Groups Network condemns the decision by Ontario’s Conservative government to abolish the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and cancel plans to create a new French-language university.

“The QCGN has looked to Ontario as a model for how an official language minority community should be treated,” said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers.

He said Ontario has provided an effective example for the rest of Canada: a French Language Services Act, which is intended to protect the rights of Franco-Ontarians; an Office of Francophone Affairs that ensures Franco-Ontarians receive government services in French so they can participate in the social, economic and political life of the province; as well as a French Language Services Commissioner to ensure those rights are respected.

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QCGN Celebrates English-speaking Quebecers at its Tenth Annual Community Awards

QCGN Fêtes 10th Anniversary of Community Awards 

By Bea Vongdouangchanh

The Quebec Community Groups Network celebrated the 10th anniversary of its community award program on Nov. 1, recognizing three community leaders and a young Quebecer who’ve made contributions to the English-speaking community in the province.

Olga Melikoff, Murielle Parkes and John Rae received the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award. The annual award celebrates individuals who, like the award’s namesakes, have dedicated their lives to ensuring English-speaking Quebec remains a vibrant community within Quebec and Canada. For many years Sheila and Victor Goldbloom invested their talents and skills for the betterment of the community and inspired others through their outstanding contributions.

The Young Quebecer Leading the Way Award, which is sponsored by Quebec Community Groups Network, the Fondation Notre Home Foundation and CBC Quebec, recognizes and celebrates the outstanding achievements of young English-speaking Quebecers who are engaged in innovative initiatives that create change in our communities. This year’s youth leadership award was presented to were pleased to 23-year-old Hayley Campbell from Shawville, Que.

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QCGN Looks Forward to Working Together with Premier François Legault and his new cabinet

QCGN Looks Forward to Working Together with Premier François Legault and his new cabinet

Our community also looks forward to working with Christopher Skeete, the new Parliamentary Assistant in charge of the Secretariat for Relations


Montreal – October 18, 2018 – The Quebec Community Groups Network applauds Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault, who was sworn in as Quebec’s 32nd Premier on Thursday and looks forward to working with the new Premier and his new cabinet on key issues such as health and education.

QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers also extended the Network’s congratulations to Sainte-Rose MNA Christopher Skeete, who will be the voice of English-speaking Quebecers in Legault’s government. Switching to English halfway through his speech following the swearing-in ceremony, Premier Legault announced that Skeete will become Parliamentary Assistant in charge of the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

“We offer our assistance to Skeete and the new CAQ government so that they can better understand and represent the interests of English-speaking Quebecers across the province,” Chambers said, remarking that the QCGN has a variety of other immediate concerns, including the implementation of legislative guarantees that ensure access to health and social services and the future of English school boards.

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QCGN Congratulates François Legault and Coalition Avenir Québec

Montreal – October 1, 2018 – The Quebec Community Groups Network congratulates Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault and his party for their victory in Monday’s provincial election.

“The QCGN, which met with CAQ candidates during the campaign, looks forward to working with our new government,” said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers. “We have some concerns, but we are optimistic that we will be able to dialogue with our new government on a variety of issues including the future of our schools and health care.”

“We are pleased that Mr. Legault extended a hand to English-speaking Quebecers, promising to work for the benefit of all Quebecers,” Chambers said, noting that Legault said he wants to make Quebec stronger within Canada. “My government will be your government!” Legault vowed.

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