Will anglos have a voice in government under François Legault’s plan?

As the former minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, Kathleen Weil said the eradication of the ministerial position under the new government represents a step back for the English community.

Newly sworn-in Quebec Premier François Legault announced Thursday he would take responsibility for the dossier, and was naming Laval MNA Christopher Skeete as his parliamentary assistant, responsible for the Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

“The fact Premier Legault is taking on responsibility for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, I think it sends a positive message to the community,” Weil said. But as someone who served as a minister for eight years, Weil said she has seen first-hand how decisions and policies are made, and a ministerial position is crucial.

Read more

Is it time to give more teeth to Canada’s Official Languages Act?

Is it time to give more teeth to Canada’s Official Languages Act? Many experts think so, and some suggest the creation of an administrative tribunal.

The Fédération canadienne des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) disagrees.

“The history of this Act is the story of half a century of infractions and of an incomplete implementation”, commented FCFA President Jean Johnson last spring while testifying before the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages.

Read more (In French only)

QCGN president worries about how new government could impact minorities

Geoffrey Chambers of the Quebec Community Groups Network joins senior anchor Jamie Orchard to discuss how CAQ policies, especially the banning of religious symbols, could have a negative impact on minority groups in the province.

Watch the interview

QCGN honours French immersion pioneers

Murielle Parkes and Olga Melikoff, two of the parents who pushed more than 50 years ago to establish French immersion in St. Lambert, are getting recognition for their efforts with a prize from the Quebec Community Groups Network.

Listen to the interview on a All in a Weekend Montreal with Ainslie MacLellan

What if you call an election and the non-francophones don’t show up?

With the exception of the anglophone-rights Equality Party in 1989, Jacob Hughes has always put an X next to the Liberal candidate on provincial ballots.

Not this time.

In last week’s election, there was no X at all because he stayed home.

“The (Coalition Avenir Québec) was getting in and the Liberal was going to win here, so why should I bother?” said Hughes, 64.

He was speaking as he put groceries into his trunk in the parking lot of the Côte-St-Luc shopping centre, which straddles the D’Arcy-McGee and Notre-Dame-de-Grace ridings, two of 13 where less than half the population speaks French at home.

The Liberals turned their backs on anglophones and didn’t deserve his vote anyway, Hughes said, citing the party’s decision to “tell people they can’t say ‘Hi’ in a store.”

Hughes is one of the reasons voter turnout plummeted among non-francophones on Oct. 1.

What happened?

Read more

Quebec ban on religious symbols would be ‘catastrophic’: anglo groups

Disturbing, disruptive, divisive, catastrophic.

Those are some of the words the head of a network of Quebec anglophone groups used Friday to describe the incoming Coalition Avenir Québec government’s plan to ban the wearing of religious symbols on the job by public employees in positions of authority.

Under Premier-designate François Legault’s proposed new law, which he said Friday he would try to get passed in his first year, elementary and high school teachers, police officers, prosecutors, judges and prison guards would have to remove their Muslim hijab, Jewish kippa or Sikh turban or lose their jobs.

“If they actually did it, it would be catastrophic, seriously tearing the community apart,” Geoffrey Chambers, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, told the Montreal Gazette.

Read more

What Is in Store for Anglophones?

In an interview with Caroline Van Vlaardingen of CTV Montreal, Quebec Community Groups Network President Geoffrey Chambers said the community will be keeping a close eye on the new Coalition Avenir Québec government, ensuring that the concerns of English-speaking Quebecers are not ignored.

View video

Community Groups Network reacts to ‘historic’ CAQ win

City News’ Tina Tenneriello speaks with QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers on the election night results.

View video

Your Vote: Montreal’s Community Groups

City News’ Tina Tenneriello speaks with QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers on the importance of the English-speaking vote on election day.

Watch video

Opinion: An election agenda for English-speaking Quebecers

By Geoffrey Chambers
QCGN President

Monday’s first-ever English-language televised leader’s debate was a watershed moment and evidence of a heightened willingness across Quebec’s political class to reach out to English-speaking Quebecers in their own language. It also signalled acknowledgement by all parties that none can afford to ignore our community of more than one million.

The Parti Québécois promise of no referendum in a first mandate is openly linked to a policy agenda geared to achieving sovereignty within the decade. There is also a progressive but unrestrainedly sovereigntist Québec solidaire electoral pitch. The Coalition Avenir Québec platform has core education and immigration planks that are not tuned to the needs of our community.

Over the second half of his mandate, Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard began to respond to long-held demands of many English-speaking organizations, including the Quebec Community Groups Network. Last November, his government launched a Secretariat for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, an entity we are pleased to note the leaders of all four main parties have pledged to maintain.

Read more

QCGN President Comments Provincial Electoral Debate

QCGN’s president, Geoffrey Chambers, comments the first-ever English-language provincial electoral debate.

With the fear of a referendum on Quebec’s independence off the table, the first-ever televised English-language debate among political leaders created interesting discussions on other policies that concern voters.

Concordia University students watching Monday’s debate said that gave anglophones more choices — although they noted that many students at Montreal’s English universities are francophones.

“I think the fact that there’s an English debate this year shows a lot about wanting to bring anglophones into the group of more democratically active people,” said one student.

The president of the Quebec Community Groups Network said the fact that the leaders debated in English is a great sign for the anglophone community.

Read more

Watch the video

Anglo groups say English debate offered ‘clear options’ on issues affecting voters

Leaders of English-language lobby groups across Quebec breathed a collective sign of relief when all four party leaders committed to keeping the province’s Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

“It’s a useful tool, especially for some of the communities that are really at a distance,” said Gerald Cutting, president of the Townshippers’ Association, which represents anglophones in the province’s Eastern Townships.

The leaders of the four major parties were asked point-blank if they’d keep the secretariat, created in 2017 under Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government, and all said yes.

Read more

Anglo community the big winner after English-language debate

The first English-language television debate in Quebec history prompted viewing parties at several locations across Montreal, including the offices of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

The people who gathered there let out a cheer towards the end of the debate when all four party leaders pledged to maintain the Anglophone Secretariat if elected to the National Assembly.

At a viewing party organized by Concordia University political science students, Camille Ross-Williams said she believed the debate could have a positive influence on student interest.

“I think this debate is going to have a positive effect on voter turnout,” she told Global News.

Read more

What to expect at tonight’s English-language debate

Tonight is the historic English provincial leaders debate. Coverage begins at 5pm on CityNews. Geoffrey Chambers, president of the QCGN, previews the debate.

Watch the video

Quebec election notebook: A day later, ‘callous’ Liberal election sign still stands in Irish cemetery

Victor Boyle started hearing about it early Tuesday morning via Facebook.

Large election signs — two touting the Parti Québécois, one the Liberals — had popped up next to the Black Rock in the median of Bridge St. near the Victoria Bridge.

One of the most solemn places for Montreal’s Irish community, the boulder commemorates the 6,000 poor Irish immigrants who escaped the Great Famine only to die of typhus in Montreal. They were buried in mass graves near the bridge. 

“It’s a cemetery, there are 6,000 people buried under those (election) signs,” said Boyle, who drove to Montreal from his home in Hemmingford to see for himself. “They’re desecrating 6,000 Irish souls.”

Read more