Quebec Liberals trying to reconnect with Anglophones.
Published Friday, June 16, 2017 7:41PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 17, 2017 7:16PM EDT
The Quebec Liberal party is trying to reconnect with Anglophones.
This week the Liberals sent a letter to federal ministers about the challenges faced by English-speaking communities outside of Montreal, while Premier Philippe Couillard announced he is creating a new administrative office dedicated to anglophones.
This group will be part of the premier's executive council and will "state and voice their concerns at the highest levels of government," said Couillard.
The Premier has, until now, ruled out having a minister responsible for Anglophones, but he's now reconsidering the idea.
"It's my duty, first. Second, because I believe in it," said Couillard.
"I'm not happy that my fellow Quebecers who speak English believe that they're not always treated as first-class Quebecers, and are taken for granted. I'm not happy about this, it makes me sad, I want this to stop."
Parti Quebecois leader Jean-Francois Lisée, who was minister for Anglophones under the Marois government, is surprised by the change of view.
"He talks about Anglos so much in the last few weeks that I think he's very nervous that either we're making inroads or he's losing his voters, and deservedly so," said Lisée.
CAQ leader Francois Legault shared that point of view.
"Of course, we see that Mr. Couillard is scared about his traditional support in the Anglophone community," Legault said.
The premier said work to put a new secretariat in place is already underway, and that has Anglophone groups celebrating--with some reservations.
It is late in a mandate to create a new position, but the head of the Quebec Community Groups Network said it was better now than never.
"We have been pushing for it for a long time. We are extremely well pleased. In a sense this is a celebration," said Jim Shea.
While Shea and the QCGN have been able to talk to Anglophone Ministers on multiple occasions, he said the messages don't necessarily get transmitted to or through Quebec's bureaucracy, especially when it comes to healthcare and educational reforms.
Meanwhile former MP Marlene Jennings said the creation of the secretariat is a bold move.
"It was a necessity. They had to move," said Jennings.
"It's the political courage when you have opposition parties that basically have no interest whatsoever in the vitality of the English-speaking minority communities within Quebec."
The QCGN said it plans to make the most of the secretariat in the lead-up to the next election, scheduled for Oct. 1, 2018.