PQ would limit religious symbols, but not extend Bill 101 to CEGEPs
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, September 10, 2017 3:00PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 11, 2017 7:36AM EDT
Jean-Francois Lisee may have proved victorious in his quest to not have his party push to extend Bill 101 to English CEGEPs but the Parti Quebecois still managed to get midly more extreme on their stance towards English in post-secondary education.
On Sunday, the last day of the party’s three-day caucus meeting, members voted in favour or a proposal saying there are better ways to curb the influx of Francophones attending English post-secondary institutions.
However, a motion did pass that made it the party’s official policy that should they come to power, Bill 101 would be extended to include vocational schools.
Students enrolled in English-language CEGEPs wouldn’t be able to earn a DEC without first passing a French test.
The party also endorsed adding intensive English courses at the elementary and secondary level in order to make post-secondary English institutions less attractive as well as offering more English courses in French CEGEPs.
Other resolutions passed included a callback to the failed Charter of Values that was first floated under the government of former Premier Pauline Marois. The party voted in favour of a vague motion that called for state officials to refrain from displaying their religion.
MNA Agnes Maltais said the party’s position had remained the same on religious garb and that the prohibition on religious symbols would extend to state employees such as police officers, judges, prison guards, teachers and caregivers.
“It’s written in black and white in the program,” she said, adding that a grandfather clause would be included in any legislation.
Concordia University professor Bruce Hicks said the PQ may have learned a lesson from the original Charter's failure but are walking a very fine line trying to attract both rural voters and those in the more multicultural cities.
"Identity issues where Islamophobia are involved play well in the rural regions, they don't do well in Montreal," he said. "I think they're trying to strike that balance with the people scared at home looking at a TV, seeing demonstrations in the street and terrorism and at the same time the very secular society that is Montreal and, to a lesser extent, Quebec City."
The caucus also voted in favour of gradually reducing private secondary education funding as a means to enhance the value of public schools and rejected the idea of imposing quotas on female political candidates.
The votes came a day after the PQ voted overwhelmingly in support of keeping Lisee as leader. Hicks said doing otherwise with an election approaching in 2018 would have been an act of political self-sabotage.
"I think the PQ aren't complete idiots, sometimes they behave like that," he said. "I think they know that to try and do a leadership convention now, right before an election, would just divide the party and they couldn't recover."