Anglo-rights group accuses Quebec government of trying to destabilize English-speaking community
MONTREAL – The president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is accusing the provincial government of trying to divide English speakers and destabilize the network that supports them.
“We will not be bullied or silenced by surreptitious campaigns by the government of Quebec to mute or silence the defence of our rights and needs,” the organization stated.
"As a key advocacy voice for Quebec’s official language minority community, our mandate is to speak in defence of the community when faced with policies and actions from the government, which are contrary to our community’s interests," said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers.
He insists the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) is politicizing the work of the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers by demanding community organizations support the department to receive funding.
“The QCGN holds the Secretariat to exactly the same standard as should be applied to any government department,” the network insisted.
“The Secretariat has sought to substitute itself as a voice and representative of community interests.”
The network would not say which groups it had severed ties with, but argues increased competition for provincial and federal funding has caused friction between members.
The departed organizations are apparently hoping to push through reforms in health care in regions where the government has said it wants to bolster resources.
It seems the groups worry about the QCGN's strident position opposition to the province’s school board reforms, as well as Quebec's controversial secularism law.
"The parties that want us to be more passive … have other irons in the fire with the government and they don't want to fuss, but we have an obligation to speak truth to power and that's what we're going to do," Chambers insisted.
In response to some of the recent claims made against the QCGN, the executive committee continues to insist that it has “never attempted to ‘centralize funding control,” nor has it “blocked the participation of any of its member groups from government consultations.”
Chambers added that membership to the network is free and all the organizations that left are welcome to come back.
-- with files from CTV News’ Billy Shields and Daniel J. Rowe.