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François Legault worries the English-speaking community

Many prominent members of the English-speaking community criticize difficult relations with the Legault government, saying it’s “disconnected”. At the heart of the problem lies a lack of empathy towards minorities. “It’s very very concerning”, says QCGN president, Geoffrey Chambers.

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Macpherson: Legault makes a case against his own school-boards proposal

In his weekly column in The Montreal Gazette, Don Macpherson argues that Premier François Legault makes a case against his government’s proposal to abolish school boards by implying that English boards should be abolished because they can go to court to defend the English-speaking community’s schools.

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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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No plans to bring back English signs at Lachute hospital

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.

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Comparisons between French Ontario and Quebec English: Que veulent les Québécois d’expression anglaise?

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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English-rights group says Legault is wrong about Bill 101 and hospitals

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.”

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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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At the Hockey Jersey Summit, different colours, same team

Quebec hasn’t just abandoned the French-speaking minorities in the other provinces. It’s also betrayed them.

In a familiar ritual as Canadian as drunken curlers, the premiers of Quebec and Ontario exchanged jerseys for the cameras before their first meeting in Toronto this week.

From Quebec, the business-as-usual mood of the visuals looked surreal, considering that François Legault had been expected to deliver a stern message to Doug Ford.

This province’s politico-media class was in an uproar over the Ford government’s cancellation of what would have been Ontario’s first all-French university, and abolition of the office of advocate for public services in French.

There was no question, however, of postponing until a happier time the friendly public exchange of the Canadiens and Maple Leafs jerseys personalized with the recipient’s name and his number in the order of his province’s premiers.

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Legault’s support of Franco-Ontarians is essential, and encouraging

Under normal circumstances, Quebec Premier François Legault might have found a lot in common with Doug Ford, his Ontario counterpart, during their first tête-à-tête in Toronto Monday.

Both are businessmen-turned-politicians who have arrived in power by unseating long-entrenched Liberal governments. Both are fiscal conservatives with populist tendencies. Both have concerns about immigration. Both are at odds with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on major priorities. Both have threatened in their brief tenures to use the notwithstanding clause should the courts stand in the way of their legislative agendas.

But looming large over a meeting between the next-door neighbours, which was supposed to focus on strengthening economic ties, was the Ford government’s unfortunate decision last week to sacrifice the rights of Franco-Ontarians in the name of clawing its way out of a financial hole. In an economic update, the Ontario government cancelled plans for a francophone university and axed the province’s French-language commissioner, absorbing its functions into the ombudsman’s office.

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