Anglo group hosts its own hearings into school board bill
MONTREAL -- A group promoting English-language education in Quebec on Tuesday held hearings into Bill 40 after it said relevant community groups were absent from the government's consultations.
The Alliance for the Promotion of Public English-language Education in Québec (APPELE) hosted more than 10 groups who did not get to speak in front of the National Assembly as part of the public consultation process of the bill.
The group is fighting to save school boards, which would be axed in favour of smaller service centres if the government passes Bill 40. And as the end of the legislative session fast approaches, some of the groups worried the ruling CAQ party would hasten to pass the bill before the government considers some of its consequences, particularly on Quebec's English minority.
School boards help protect the English language in Quebec, which is under threat, according to Clarence Bayne, president of the Black community resource centre. "The government seems to assume the population is homogenous," said Clarence Bayne "From everything we know from the past 60 to 100 years there's been a struggle to -- as I see it and as our organization sees it-- eliminate the existence of anything that speaks English and assimilate everybody into a Francophone situation. That is not where the world is going, and that's certainly not where the world is going to end, ever."
Other groups, like the Quebec Community Groups Network, asked the government to exempt English school boards from Bill 40.
The QCGN said the proposed law violates the constitutional rights of English-speaking Quebecers.
The anglo lobby group is calling on the government to exempt English boards from the legislation until full consultations with the English-speaking communities of Quebec are held.
"Schools are core institutions of the English-speaking community," QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers said. "The province has a responsibility to design an educational governance structure that protects and enables the English-speaking community's management and control over our constitutionally guaranteed minority language education.
"The government must recognize and support the linguistic and cultural rights of Quebec's English-speaking community," Chambers added. "This is more than a constitutional duty. It is a fundamental covenant between the government of Quebec and its English-speaking citizens. It pre-dates confederation."
The government has already granted special status to English school boards in the proposed reform legislation; while members of the new service centres that would replace boards in the French school system will all be appointed by the government, most of the members of the English service centres will be elected.
Despite that provision, Chambers called Bill 40 "an empty shell for community representation in which true management and control will inevitable be exercised by school staff and Ministry officials rather than rights-holders and the wider community."
Among the groups airing their concerns about the bill on Tuesday were:
Canadian Parents for French
Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA)
Black Community Resource Center (BCRC)
Quebec Board of Black Educators
Quebec Community Groups Network
Quebec Association of Independent Schools (QAIS)
Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC)
English-Speaking Catholic Council (ESSC)
Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA)
Quebec Farmers’ Association (QFA)
Canadian School Boards Association