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Anglophone rights should be enshrined in new Quebec constitution, Liberals say

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As the Quebec Liberal Party tries to rebound from a devastating blow in the last two provincial elections, the official opposition is proposing the rights of the English-speaking community be enshrined in a new Quebec constitution.

The proposal is from a report by a committee that studied the relaunch of the party after speaking with Liberal party members on its path forward.

Specifically, the committee, co-chaired by Liberal MNA Madwa-Nika Cadet, called for the first-ever Quebec constitution to "enshrine the rights of English-speaking Quebecers, guaranteeing their existing rights to English-language services and control of their educational and health institutions."

"It would provide additional guarantees that the rights and freedoms of cultural and linguistic minorities would be respected by the Quebec government," according to the document, which was obtained by CTV News Wednesday evening.

The Liberals are set to unveil the party's new vision at a press conference in Montreal on Thursday.

The Liberals have been in the opposition benches for years now and trying to figure out how to gain back some of the political momentum they once had.

The lengthy document is the result of feedback from 500 party members during regional tours across Quebec. It points out some of the party's flaws and discusses how it can reconnect with its base.

It touches on a range of issues concerning identity, temporary immigration, and revamping the tax system in Quebec, among others.

One of the key areas of the committee's work was language rights and the desire to ensure existing rights of anglophones to health and education services in English to be "clearly recognized in the Quebec constitution."

Party members told the committee that they fully support the Quebec government's ongoing efforts to strengthen and support the use of the French language in Quebec, but warned that, "The protection of French should not be done 'against the English,' but by investing in education and teaching French properly," the report stated, citing the concern of a member.

"In line with these observations, English-speaking participants also told us of their fears, based on past experience, that strengthening the protections currently in place to ensure the vitality of the French language would work against their rights, their institutions and their socio-economic opportunities within Quebec society," the committee noted.

The committee's soul-searching journey also delved into what party members believed were "weaknesses" they saw in the organization and communication within the party.

They believe that the QLP neither understands nor shares their concerns. Worse, some felt that the party looked down on them, as if they were wrong to be concerned about the future.

It added the party took too long to take a stance on controversial issues, and when they did, it wasn't strong enough.

"The PLQ has already set about rebuilding ties with its base and rebuilding its organization. These efforts must continue. And the next leader must continue to listen to his or her supporters, without whom victory will remain out of reach," the report said.

SEARCH FOR NEW PARTY LEADER

The advice comes as the Liberals are still without a permanent leader. Dominique Anglage stepped down as leader after the 2022 election loss and the search for a new one has had a rocky start.

Frédéric Beauchemin has put his name forward, but over the weekend, interim leader Marc Tanguay asked that he be withdrawn from the Liberal caucus pending an inquiry into allegations the Marguerite-Bourgeoys MNA harassed and threatened the president of the party's youth wing, Élyse Moisan. He denied the allegations in a post on social media, which said he would cooperate with the inquiry process.

"The current situation is rather a symptom of the crisis affecting the Quebec Liberal Party. The Youth Commission, like the rest of the party, is paralyzed by a lack of clear direction," he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, last week.

The rules for the upcoming leadership race are set to be unveiled at the party's general council this weekend in Drummondville.

The Canadian Press reported Beauchemin still intends to attend the meeting since he is still a member of the party.

With files from The Canadian Press

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