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.
A denunciation of members of minorities who complain of their treatment in Quebec as “enemies … of French-speaking Quebec.”
With it, a call to “extinguish these hotbeds of intolerance,” in a message the writer acknowledges might be used by the “hotheaded and violently prejudiced.”
Just another rant from someone in the online hate community hiding behind a pseudonym, exceptional only for its lack of spelling mistakes?
No, a column published in Quebec’s most-read daily and on its website, and promoted on the province’s most popular television network, all properties of Pierre Karl Péladeau’s Québecor media empire.
Even in Péladeau’s flagship Le Journal de Montréal, with its deep lineup of minority-baiting columnists, I can’t recall ever reading anything as disturbing as Denise Bombardier’s Jan. 5 column titled “Les québécophobes.”
You can read the column in French online at journaldemontreal.com/2019/01/05/les-quebecophobes, and form your own opinion of it.
You can also listen to Bombardier promote it on TVA television at tvanouvelles.ca/videos/5986318403001, where she falsely accused Quebec anglophones of not supporting francophone minorities in the rest of Canada, such as the Franco-Ontarians affected by recent spending cuts by the Ford government. In fact, the Quebec Community Groups Network and the Montreal Gazette, among others, were quick to come to the Franco-Ontarians’ defence
An English rights group says Quebec Premier François Legault’s interpretation of how Bill 101 applies to hospitals is wrong and is calling for an immediate meeting with the premier.
On Thursday, Legault defended a regional health authority’s removal of English words from signs at the hospital in Lachute, approximately 60 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
The hospital began covering up English words in December after the Office québécois de la langue française said the hospital was not following Quebec’s language laws. The hospital offers services in English and French.
“I think that we have to follow the law, and they weren’t respecting the law. Bill 101 has to be respected. That’s what we’ll do,” Legault said. “As you know, anglophones will keep on having the right to have services in education and health care, so I don’t see the importance of having bilingual signs.”
But the Quebec Community Group’s Network, which represents 53 English-language community organizations, disagrees.
“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,” Geoffrey Chambers, the president of the QCGN said in a release. “Not to have clear signage is an obstacle to services. If you cannot find the service, it is not available to you.”
Premier François Legault’s point man on relations with English-speaking Quebecers appears to have broken rank on Thursday night, saying he’s working privately to resolve a language dispute at the Lachute hospital.
MNA Christopher Skeete wrote on Twitter that he has been in contact with the health and culture ministers offices and suggested those concerned should “stay tuned.”
“The (premier) is correct that we must respect our laws, but healthcare is a different ball game,” Skeete said.
“Especially in areas like Lachute where we have a 17 per cent English-speaking population.”
Quebec’s language watchdog ordered the hospital last month to remove the English signs that say “emergency” and “parking” around the hospital, prompting outcry from local mayors.
Earlier Thursday, Legault said he would not protect the English signs, explaining that “Bill 101 must be protected.”
Quebec Premier François Legault is defending an order forcing a hospital in Lachute to remove its bilingual signs.
It comes after the Office quebecois de la langue francaise, which enforces the province’s French language charter, recently contacted the hospital and told it take down English signs inside and outside the facility.
Asked about the decision Thursday in Montreal, Legault said the change is necessary.
“We have to follow the law and they didn’t. They weren’t respecting the law. Bill 101 has to be respected that’s what we’ll do,” he said. “As you know, Anglophones will keep on having the right to have services in education in health care. I don’t see the importance of having bilingual signs.”
After the Office québécois de la langue française mandated a Lachute hospital remove its English-language signage, Quebec Premier François Legault says he doesn’t see the importance of bilingual signage.
“They weren’t respecting the law. Bill 101 has to be respected; that’s what we will do,” Legault told reporters.
“Anglophones will keep on having the right to have services in education, in healthcare… so I don’t see the importance of having bilingual signs.”
The Quebec Community Groups Network disagrees with Legault’s stance.
“It’s a clear violation of the law and his interpretation is mistaken,” QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers reacted.
Critics are panning the decision to remove English from signage at the Lachute hospital, calling the move concerning and upsetting.
The regional health authority, the CISSS-des-Laurentides, announced last month that it was removing the signage to be in line with Quebec’s language law, Bill 101.
CBC News first reported that nine Lachute-area mayors are opposing the decision, calling it “deeply disappointing.”
The Liberal critic for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, Greg Kelley, says he understands why people in the lower Laurentians are upset.
“We heard feedback right away from that community, people calling our riding office, flagging things on social media,” said Kelley. “They’re extremely upset and concerned.”
MONTREAL — An edict from Quebec’s language watchdog that a hospital northwest of Montreal must remove English from its bilingual signage has angered municipal officials.
The Office quebecois de la langue francaise, which enforces the province’s French language charter, recently contacted the hospital in Lachute, Que. and told it take down English signs inside and outside the facility.
Scott Pearce, the mayor of nearby Gore, said the language watchdog is needlessly stirring up trouble in a community that prides itself on not having any language strife.
“A lot of Quebec could learn from our region. We don’t have these language debates. We get along great. We love each other, we do things together, we work together,” Pearce said Wednesday. “Maybe that problem exists elsewhere, but it doesn’t exist here, so don’t bring your problems here is how we look at it.”
James Shea of Aylmer, an educator and minority language rights advocate, died on Saturday. He was 76.
Chairman of the Western Quebec School Board and retired superintendent of the Ottawa Catholic School Board, Shea was also the former president of the Quebec Communities Group Network (QCGN) and immediate past president of the Regional Association of West Quebecers.
In a communiqué issued Monday, current QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers described Shea as “a fervent advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and an impassioned proponent of bilingualism,” adding 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.”
Shea is survived by his wife, Theresa, and daughters Ann, Karen, Cathy and Lisa.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Western Quebec School Board for the James Shea Memorial Fund, in support of disadvantaged students. Donations can be mailed to WQSB at 15, rue Katimavik, Gatineau, QC, J9J 0E9.
James Shea, a pioneering advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and former president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), has died at 76.
The Aylmer, Que., native was a former teacher, school principal and school board administrator.
“No words can express the sadness of Mr. Shea’s death. Our school board, as well as the entire English community in Quebec, has lost a visionary, a leader like no other and a remarkable person who was appreciated, respected and valued by everybody who knew him,” said Mike Dubeau, director general of the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB).
“Jim was a fervent advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and an impassioned proponent of bilingualism,” said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers.
Chambers notes that Shea was instrumental in helping QCGN successfully advocate for increased language support from the federal government as well as in encouraging the Quebec government to create a secretariat to improve relations with English-speaking Quebecers.
L’accueil d’élèves francophones dans des écoles anglophones dépeuplées n’est pas une panacée à la surpopulation dans le réseau scolaire de langue française, prévient la plus grande commission scolaire du Québec.
Le déclin de la communauté anglophone a beau avoir libéré 2250 places dans des écoles de l’île de Montréal, ces locaux vides sont pour la plupart situés loin des écoles francophones qui débordent. « Les espaces disponibles dans les commissions scolaires anglophones ne sont pas comme un coup de baguette magique qui va tout régler », dit Catherine Harel Bourdon, présidente de la Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM).
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Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge reiterated Tuesday that there is “no room for interpretation” when it comes to the government’s plan to abolish school boards.
“I think our plan is pretty clear. We want to transform school boards into service centres for schools,” he said.
“We want to emphasize all the decisions that are being taken by the governing board of each school and we want to abolish the election for trustees. It’s pretty clear.”
Quebec’s education minister doubled down Tuesday on the CAQ’s plan to abolish school boards.
“We want to transform school boards into service centres,” said Jean-Francois Roberge, who assured the English-speaking community its rights will still be respected under the new system.
English-language advocacy groups, however, are not convinced of that and have plans to fight back.
The Quebec Community Groups Network is prepared to fight the CAQ’s plans to abolish school boards in favour of service centres.
In a press release, QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers said that the school boards have value well beyond education.
“They are vital to the very survival and identity of our English-speaking community,” he said.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, premier Francois Legault confirmed that he would be going ahead with the controversial plans.
“Once the nine anglophone centres will be in place, they will realize they lost nothing,” he told the Gazette. “So it’s a useless battle.”
Chambers reiterated the QCGN’s stance that it will challenge any CAQ decision in court.
Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge took to social media Saturday morning to to reiterate the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government’s position when it comes to abolishing school boards.