Anglo rights group gets first sit-down with the premier to hash out concerns
Anglophone rights advocates got to take the concerns of the English community to the premier Friday at a private meeting.
It was a rare opportunity for the Quebec Community Groups Network so early in a mandate
“We've never met a premier of Quebec this early in his mandate or her mandate,” said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers.
“To get a meeting with the premier, in the past, it has sometimes taken years,” added Vice-President Gerald Cutting.
The group sat down with Francois Legault and MNA Christopher Skeete, the premier's point man on Anglophone relations.
Skeete came out of the meeting sounding optimistic.
“The dialogue today was great, a lot of openness,” said Skeete.
Chambers was slightly more reserved.
“It's a beginning. We don't know absolutely how it's going to go, but we're encouraged that we have had this beginning,” he said.
Unsurprisingly there are clearly big differences that remain between the English rights group and the CAQ.
Among them are school boards: the QCGN wants to keep them, while Legault wants to convert them into service centres. Friday's meeting didn’t create any consensus on the subject.
“What's not open for debate is access to English education. What's not open to debate is whether or not English people in Quebec can send their kids to English school is a right,” said Skeete.
The QCGN said so far, there has been good and bad from Legault towards Anglophones.
“I think it's been very mixed. A number of public positions and statements have kind of shocked our community and worried people,” said Chambers.
Dialogue and consultation are at the forefront of what QCGN wants, and meetings like the one on Friday are an important step.
“We don't just want to be the recipients of policy. We want to be there when it’s made,” said Cutting.
Chambers said he expects to meet with several ministers in the coming weeks, adding that another meeting with Legault in on the table for later this year.