Tiffany Callender, Executive Director of Côte-des-Neiges Black Community Centre and member of QCGN`s Priority Setting Steering Committee is interviewed by CJAD’s Natasha Hall to discuss how the first meeting with Premier François Legault went and the importance of consultation with English-speaking Quebec and visible minority communities.
The Quebec Community Groups Network, which represents 50 Anglophone groups in Quebec, met with Premier Francois Legault last week. QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers reveals what was discussed.
In an interview with CTV’s Paul Karwatsky, QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers discusses concerns that were raised during a first face-to-face meeting with Premier François Legault. Chambers said that while the Premier listened and agreed to consult the community more, he did not commit to following the community’s advice on issues like school boards.
The Quebec Community Groups Network got to take the concerns of the English community to the premier Friday at a private meeting. It was a rare opportunity so early in a new government’s mandate. “We’ve never met a premier of Quebec this early in his mandate or her mandate,” said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers.
Quebec Premier François Legault met with members of the Quebec Community Groups Network on Friday for a closed-door meeting. As Global’s Tim Sargeant reports, issues discussed included the future of school boards, access to English education and wearing of religious symbols.
A network of anglophone groups that has been critical of the Coalition Avenir Québec government says it is cautiously optimistic after a “productive” and “encouraging” meeting with Premier François Legault Friday.
Legault was sworn in four months ago. It’s the earliest a new premier has met with the Quebec Community Groups Network, which represents 50 anglophone groups.
The premier “was well-briefed, he knew the files, he didn’t have to have the meeting so early,” QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers said afterward.
“What we could reasonably expect today is exactly what we got, so we’re quite pleased, (though) not without some reserve as to how it could go in the future.”
He was speaking to reporters after a 90-minute meeting between QCGN officials, Legault and Christopher Skeete, the premier’s parliamentary assistant for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.
Chambers said the CAQ government’s record on issues affecting anglophones has been “very mixed. There have been a number of positions and statements that have kind of shocked our community and worried people, but meetings like this are encouraging.”
As their petition to save Riverdale High School continues to pick up steam, several former students are also considering taking their fight to court.
“You can just click on it and watch the numbers keep rolling on it,” said former student Amanda Lovelace. “We’re actually shocked.”
In a week, they have gathered just over 2,000 signatures.
While they have enlisted the help of their local MNA, Monseff Derraji, to take their petition to the National Assembly, Lovelace says they are willing to put forth a legal challenge.
Starting September, Riverdale High School will be operated by Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board. Aimée Lemieux reports.
Watch interview with QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers
The Minister of Education’s decision to force the transfer of an English school to the French-language network worries the English-speaking community of West Island, which fears for the respect of its rights guaranteed by the Charter under the Legault government.
“We have the right to have our institutions, rights that are established in the constitution. It seems the minister does not see these rights as important,” says the president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), which represents more than 50 English-language community organizations.
The same goes for the Quebec English School Boards Association. “We may think that this is an affront to our powers to manage and control our schools,” adds its managing director, Russell Copeman.
The Journal revealed Monday that the Minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge, will use a power rarely evoked in the Education Act to require the transfer of the Riverdale High School from the Lester B. Pearson School Board. to the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board (CSMB). The English-language facility is only used at half capacity, while the CSMB is overflowing with the influx of newcomers to the area.
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Christopher Skeete, the MNA responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, says the province will stand its ground when it comes to bilingual signage at a Lachute hospital.
“I think the premier was quite clear in his statements that we’re going to be supporting the decision that happened there,” said Skeete.
“But at the same token, we should never forget this has no incidence on services that are being rendered to the English-speaking population.”
Earlier this month, a decision from the Lachute hospital caused an uproar.
After a meeting from the Office québécoise de la langue française (OQLF), the hospital decided to remove English-language signage from its facility.
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) believes the government is being too strict with their interpretation of the province’s French-language charter.
Assisting young people by enhancing their education with practical training and getting at-risk youth local work can strengthen their well-being and enrich Quebec’s English-speaking communities.
These goals are at the heart of two projects, supported by the federal government’s $1 million Social Partnership Development Program. They provide educational and work opportunities for youth in the Magdalen Islands and Quebec City.
They have been awarded grants from Community Innovation Fund, managed by the Quebec Community Groups Network. The Magdalen Islands, a five-hour ferry ride from PEI, is home to one of the most isolated English-speaking communities in Quebec. It has 675 residents who in the 2016 Census gave English as their mother tongue, 5.7 per cent of the total population.
Recent events in French-speaking Ontario have led to some comparisons between what Franco-Ontarians and English-speaking Quebecers live with daily. At first glance, their situations are very different. But the English-speaking community also has its demands.
First, the President of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), Geoffrey Chambers, is keen to support the latest demands of Franco-Ontarians against decisions made by the Ford government. The former Alliance Quebec member rebukes them.
For those who think that the basket of recriminations is empty for English-speaking, this is not so.
The representative of the network of 58 English-speaking organizations across Quebec agrees that “interests may be different from one region to another”. There are surely differences between a region such as Quebec, which has a population of nearly 15,000 English-speaking Quebecers and Montreal. That city has some 600,000 people who master the language of Leonard Cohen, according to the 2018 figures of the Quebec’s Institut de la statistique.
In 2019, Geoffrey Chambers sees three points on which the QCGN will have to remain vigilant. During the campaign trail, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) indicated its intention of abolishing school boards. This decision will not be accepted if it affects English school boards, as they are important for the survival of many communities.
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Calling the situation “serious and troubling,” the Quebec government has launched a sweeping administrative investigation into allegations of chronic mismanagement and ethical transgressions at the English Montreal School Board.
But Education Minister Jean-François Roberge has denied the inquiry is a political move designed to intimidate the board, which is among many that oppose the government’s plans to transform boards into service centres.
“They are two totally separate issues,” Roberge told reporters, announcing what will be a nine-month “exhaustive” inquiry into the EMSB with a report due in the minister’s hands by Sept. 10.
Administrators there have been removing English from signs. They say they have no choice after a directive from the OQLF (Office Québécois de la langue française).
Radio Noon Montreal host Shawn Apel talks with Geoffrey Chambers of the Quebec Community Groups Network and other guests and callers.
As 2018 concluded, the anglophone community was shocked by the unexpected passing of West Quebec community leader James Shea, at 76.
A lifelong educator, Mr Shea was, at the time of his death, Chairman of the West Quebec School Board (WQSB).
“We have lost an inspiring educational leader who provided all of us with a compelling and optimistic vision of the future for education in the WQSB. Jim was all about providing the best possible educational and social experience for our students. I’m confident that his legacy will continue to live on in each of us as evidenced in the work we do in our schools, centres and communities,” said Mike Dubeau, WQSB’s director.
Mr Shea was also president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), 2016 to 2018, a province-wide grouping of anglophone community groups.