Community Unites to Fight for Democratically Elected School Boards

Montreal, April 25, 2019 – Community leaders and organizations representing English-speaking Quebecers have joined together to form a provincial alliance to support democratically elected school boards and convince the government to maintain them.  

APPELE-Québec – the Alliance for the Promotion of Public English-language Education in Québec – is a broadly-based, Quebec-wide community coalition to promote the continued existence of English school boards, to ensure they are governed by commissioners who are democratically elected by the English-speaking community at large. Our Alliance, already with 16 supporting organizations and nine observer groups, is expanding rapidly.

“Our community is very alarmed by the Government of Quebec’s stated intention to abolish school boards and school board elections,” declared former MNA Geoffrey Kelley, who is chairing APPELE-Québec. “We understand that legislation to that effect is being prepared without any formal input from the English-speaking community.”

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Improving access to Justice for minority language communities in Quebec

Canadians expect that language should not be a barrier to access to justice. That is why the Government of Canada is taking positive measures to support official language minority communities as they interact with the justice system.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the Government of Canada’s support for the Quebec Community Groups Network’s (QCGN) people-centered project for improving access to Justice in English in Quebec. This project, which received $445,050 in funding, will support community volunteers leading the QCGN’s work in three key areas: justice services related to administrative tribunals, youth, and seniors. The project will help ensure continued dialogue and engagement, both within the community and with the justice sector.

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QCGN pleased with renewed support for English-speaking Quebecers

The Quebec Community Groups Network is pleased that in today’s provincial budget, the Coalition Avenir Québec government has invested more money in our community.

The QCGN hopes increased funding will help the Secretariat to fulfil its role better to serve as a conduit for our community to have full access to government ministries and agencies in order to counter unintended negative effects of government legislation, regulations and policies on Quebec’s English-speaking community

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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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