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Politicians argue over Dawson decision as some say the school must limit enrollment

A day after the Quebec government announced it's scrapping a $100-million expansion for Dawson College, it's facing some music from critics over why it did the about-face and what it expects the college to do.

"If we have to choose priority, it is better to add to French colleges than added capacity to Dawson," Premier François Legault said bluntly about the decision.

Dawson, which is overcrowded, was set to gain the equivalent of about 10 floors of a standard office tower in the expansion, which had been planned for seven years.

The minister responsible for higher education, Danielle McCann, suggested the solution to Dawson's space issue lies within Dawson -- to focus on admitting only English-speaking students.

"We think that anglophone colleges like Dawson should give priority to anglophone rights holders," she said.

Quebec's federation of CEGEPs also criticized Dawson, saying it had simply accepted too many students and saying that move was regrettable.

But among opposition parties, the Legault government's move sparked more debate. 

Liberal leader Dominique Anglade said Monday's announcement was a "political decision" and that it had no place.

"This project needs to move forward in order to respect the norms of the Education Ministry. It’s a matter of equity," she said.

Parti Québécois leader Pierre St-Paul Plamondon said his party has always been calling to boost the number of French-language CEGEP spots in Montreal, and the government is finally listening.

"We need to create more positions in French on the Island of Montreal," he said. "We said that on several occasions with no receptivity from the government. So why now?"

A Concordia professor who studies English-speaking Quebec said that whatever led to the decision, it could mean Dawson is "threatened" in a fundamental way.

"Certainly for the English speaking community, there’s a real threat, whether in theory or certainly in practice, of its vitality," said professor Lorraine O'Donnell.

For the full report, watch the video above. Top Stories

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