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Family escapes domestic violence, denied youth protection services in English

A Montreal family is speaking out about their fight to get youth protection services in English. After escaping domestic violence in 2010, the family was sent to the Centre Jeunesse de Montréal, where they were provided with unilingual francophone caseworkers.

The family filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission but the case was dismissed. Minority-rights groups are now calling for an independent investigation into the commission’s decision.

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Anglophones aren’t just crybabies

Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the Quebec Community Groups Network talks about the new poll on anglos and the response to it”

English-speaking Quebecers feel themselves to be less welcome in Quebec, Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, confirms during a wide-ranging interview with CTV Montreal. A recent Léger poll commissioned by the Journal de Montréal suggested that many younger members of the community are considering leaving the province, to pursue more promising opportunities elsewhere. However, there is “a lot of determination to stay and make things better,” Chambers adds.

View the extended interview on CTV News’ website

Community Leaders Ready to Assist Kathleen Weil, Quebec’s new Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers

Montreal – November 6, 2017 – Kathleen Weil, the new Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, expressed her commitment to making a difference for the province’s minority community and the Quebec Community Groups Network stands ready to work with her.

To engage with the English-speaking community, the provincial government must make investments in policy capacity in key sectors and regions, the QCGN told the minister as she sat down this morning with a delegation of 14 community leaders to discuss her new role.

“Since 2013, the QCGN has advocated for the establishment of a formal mechanism within the Government of Quebec that our minority community could work with to improve our vitality for the benefit of all Quebecers,” commented QCGN President James Shea, remarking that the QCGN is pleased that Premier Philippe Couillard has named Weil and tasked her with creating a Secretariat.

“Quebec now joins all other Canadian provinces and territories in creating a well-structured, and credible organization, resourced to make a difference in its linguistic minority community,” Shea told Minister Weil, noting that the QCGN expects “a robust and capable Secretariat that will withstand the test of changing governments.”

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QCGN Congratulates New MUHC Board and Pledges its Support

Montreal – September 18, 2017 – The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomes the appointment of a new Board of Directors at the McGill University Health Centre. We strongly hope that this will allow the resolution once and for all of systemic issues and the ongoing standoff between one of our most important institutions and the Quebec government.

“We congratulate Peter Kruyt and the other members of the new MUHC board who have taken on this formidable task. We look forward to helping and supporting them in dealing with the major challenges facing the MUHC,” said QCGN President James Shea. “Quebec’s English-speaking community counts on the new board and Health Minister Gaétan Barrette to provide the MUHC with all the tools it needs to thrive and continue to serve all Quebecers with the high level of specialized and super-specialized care they require.”

“For many months now, the QCGN has been concerned about the deteriorating situation at the MUHC and the inability of its leaders to come to a workable arrangement, along the same lines many other institutions which had been facing tough negotiations with Health Minister Barrette and his ministry officials,” said QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers. “But we remain troubled that the process to name the new board does not appear to have included input from members of the community who have in-depth knowledge of the community and of our health and social services network.”

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Parti Quebecois adopts measure to reduce English school funding

During CTV’s morning show Your Morning, Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the QCGN, and a Dawson College student, Simon Bérubé, discussed a measure that could limite English CEGEPs funding if the Parti Québécois is elected. Many reasons were put forward to limit the impact of its application, one of which would be its unconstitutionality. Furthermore, the French-speaking student explains that there is not much acceptance of such a measure since learning English allow young students to open themselves to the world.

Watch the interview below.

Trailblazing journalist Gretta Chambers bridged Quebec’s two solitudes

“As a journalist, a committed federalist and the first female chancellor of McGill University, Gretta Chambers was a multitasking trailblazer. Opinionated, forthright and gracious, this tiny, elegant woman bridged Quebec’s two solitudes effortlessly, explaining each group to the other – especially during turbulent times.”

This obituary written in the Globe and Mail celebrates Gretta Chambers’ many lifetime achievements. Michael Goldbloom, principal and vice-chancellor of Bishop’s University, praised her knowledge of both communities in Quebec, and reminisced about meeting her when attending Selwyn House at five years old.

It’s also where Michael met Geoffrey Chambers, now vice-president of the QCGN. Geoffrey also recounts the many great things Gretta has done for her son, from preparing meal for the entire football team, and the things she has done for her community.

Read the article in the Globe and Mail

 

Controversy in Quebec as more French students choose English college

“Simon Berube loves Quebec, its culture, French language and people, but he and his parents decided the best thing he could do for his future was to enrol in one of the province’s English-language junior colleges.”

Many French-speaking Quebecers are choosing to attend Quebec’s English CEGEPs, a choice that could be revoked pending Parti Québécois’s win in 2018 elections.

Geoffrey Chambers, VP of the QCGN, says the English-speaking community of Quebec is used to have its institutions threatened by political parties, and this debate merely is identity politics.

Read the article in the National Post

Bill 101’s track record is one quiet evolution

This op-ed was published in the Montreal Gazette on August 31, 2017 and co-signed by James Shea, president and Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president.

“Bill 101’s adoption 40 years ago marked a milestone in Quebec language politics. To better understand its significance, we must see it as part of a longer continuum. History, nuance and context will best serve as our lenses.”

The Charter of the French Language did not make French the sole official language of Quebec. Premier Robert Bourassa did that in 1974, with Bill 22. He was, in turn, building off Union Nationale premier Jean-Jacques Bertrand’s Bill 63. That 1969 law sought to establish French as the working language.

Similarly, the operation of the Charter of the French Language has evolved significantly through the four decades that followed its adoption in 1977. Bill 101 initially restricted the use of English in the courts and the National Assembly. It asserted that laws must be adopted only in French. Those limitations were stuck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1979.

Restrictions preventing English schooling in Quebec for the children of Canadians educated in English in other provinces were ruled unconstitutional. Rules governing signs and many other provisions have also been the subject of successful court challenges. The second government of premier René Lévesque substantially amended the Charter. Other significant changes were made on six subsequent occasions.

Bill 101 remains a perennial prospect for judicial review. For example, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 26.3, grants parents “a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” To protect the French language in Quebec, the Supreme Court has allowed this right be abridged for most Quebecers, a group that includes all francophones and all non-Canadian migrants. However, this suspension of civil liberties for the vast majority of Quebecers can only be temporary and transitional. Their underlying rights are not erased forever. Instead, these rights are suspended, to allow a period of adjustment. Current rules that govern access to English schools could and should eventually be changed by the courts, without any change in Bill 101 itself.

So while the Charter may have brought language peace, or at least a climate of much reduced strife, it is not a carved-in-stone defining instrument of language practices. Rather, it should be viewed as one of the controlling elements in an evolving discussion about social practices.

Even Bill 101’s most basic asserted principle — its ringing declaration that “French is Quebec’s only official language” — is on closer examination a resounding statement of intention that flies in the face of constitutional, legal and practical reality. The right to use English is constitutionally guaranteed in the courts, in the legislature and in English schools. Further, it is legally guaranteed in health and social services legislation, whenever citizens deal with Revenue Quebec and in hundreds of other circumstances protected by various Quebec statutes.

The federal Official Languages Act recognizes official language minorities in all provinces. The English-speaking community of Quebec is by far the largest and in many ways the most complex.

The government of Quebec has denied and ignored the existence of an official language minority. How can there be such a thing in a jurisdiction with one official language?

Now, however, a dialogue has begun to create a secretariat in the premier’s office to address the needs of the English-speaking community and to begin to remedy the profound ignorance and indifference of the Quebec civil service to the fact of English Quebec.

Yes, our four decades under Bill 101 and our roughly half-century of language legislation have given rise to very real and relevant grievances. But this evolving process has also fostered discussion, provided us opportunities to engage and presented us venues to argue in our interest. Things don’t ever stay the same. And they don’t always get worse. Let’s work to make them better.

Madeleine Meilleur takes herself out of the running for languages commissioner job

“Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly says her controversial pick for the position of official languages commissioner is withdrawing her candidacy.”

In a letter to the Minister, Madeleine Meilleur expressed regrets for the controversy surrounding her nominations, and also concluded that her ability to perform would have been compromised. Opposition Leader, Andrew Scheer, mentioned that such appointment embarrassed the current government.

Community groups from both minority languages in Canada welcomed Meilleur’s decision to back down. Vice president Geoffrey Chambers felt relieved of such conclusion, since the process itself was the problem. Starting it over again might lead to less disappointment if all parties are consulted, he added.

Read the article on CBC News website

Proposed new electoral map an ‘attack’ on the Anglo vote, lobby group says

“A proposal to eliminate a provincial riding with a large anglophone population could damage the community’s political voice, according to a prominent Anglo lobby group.”

A proposed electoral map would have the riding of Westmount-Saint-Louis split in two to join the riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and the newly-created downtown riding of Ville-Marie.  The result would be one less seat in the National Assembly, said Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the QCGN.

The proposed revisions also sparked discontent in Saint-Marie-Saint-Jacques riding where its MNA Manon Massé could lose her seat with the re-drawing. The process is contested since no consultation was made prior to those changes.

Read the full article on CBC News