CBC Montreal interviews Quebec Community Groups (QCGN) President Geoffrey Chambers and Quebec English School Board Association (QESBA) Executive Director Russell Copeman on Coalition Avenir Québec’s plan of abolishing school boards and replacing them with service centres.
The English-speaking community has no intention of dropping its battle to protect the existing anglophone school board system.
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) — which includes almost 60 English-language community organizations across Quebec — said in a statement Friday it “has absolutely no intention” of heeding Premier François Legault’s advice to give up because they will lose in court.
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.
“Dans un revirement qui pourrait être historique, des anglophones frustrés pensent délaisser le Parti libéral du Québec aux prochaines élections provinciales. Ils s’estiment tenus pour acquis.”
Many English-speaking Quebecers expressed the possibility to vote for another party than the Liberal Party of Quebec which has gained the electoral support of the community for the last 40 years. Citizens such as Gary Shapiro and former Equality Party MNA Robert Libman talked about the issue in the article.
QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge nuanced the possibility stating that all parties have something to offer, and that the Coalition Avenir Québec doesn’t have everything set.
“The next Quebec election is still eight months away, but already it’s starting. The quadrennial flirtation between political parties and Quebec anglophones, that most awkward and unfulfilling of courtships, is upon us again.”
Montreal Gazette columnist Allison Hanes is asking Quebec’s political parties to do better if they hope to gain the vote of English-speaking Quebecers. Notably, Hanes presents Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault promises at a radio interview to CJAD’s Leslie Roberts as disconnected and the Quebec Liberals’ past actions on Bill 10, school boards reform and Bill 62 as far from heartfelt for the English-speaking community.
Hanes refers to an editorial board meeting with the Quebec Community Groups Network where the organization suggested the new Secretariat must be enshrined in law by the National Assembly. The QCGN said the secretariat is key to ensuring community interests are considered, especially by people in the civil service who draft policy and design programs.
“The Coalition Avenir Quebec is meeting in Ste. Adele this week to prepare for the spring session of the National Assembly — but more importantly, to lay the groundwork for this year’s provincial election.”
Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault presented Dr. Lionel Carmant as the potential candidate to be health minister in a CAQ government. Members of the party gathered in Ste. Adèle for a two-day meeting to prepare for the spring session. They also discussed some proposals for the election, such as a plan to abolish school boards which drew a lot of ire from English-language groups.
The QCGN said in a statement that the CAQ displayed little knowledge of the English-speaking community. The Quebec English School Boards Association also reacted to the plan.
“The man tapped to head the Quebec government’s brand new secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, needs no introduction, as they say, to the community he is mandated to serve.”
The Minister responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, Kathleen Weil, announced the creation of the Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers during a press conference held at the Morrin Centre on November 24. Weil also announced the nomination of William Floch to head the Secretariat, the public service equivalent of an assistant deputy minister.
One of the preoccupations stated by Warren Thomson, president of Voice of English-speaking Quebec, is the under-representation of English-speakers in the public service. The QCGN also released a statement where they expressed their disappointment at the budget of the new secretariat. It added a shot of politics to its reaction by jabbing the Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault.
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