QUEBEC CITY -- Being a man is the only plausible explanation for why Premier François Legault is stubbornly keeping Education Minister Jean-François Roberge in his post, Liberal education critic Marwah Rizqy charged on Friday. 

"If he had been born a woman, Mr. Roberge would have been tossed out a long time ago by the premier, having demonstrated for three years that he was not up to the task," Rizqy said in a press scrum on Friday before questioning the minister for two hours during Question Period in the National Assembly on the education issue.

In recent months, criticizing him from all sides, particularly on tutoring, school dropout, rapid tests for COVID-19 and especially air quality in schools, all opposition parties have in turn called for Roberge's dismissal, deemning him unfit to perform his duties and meet the needs of the education system.

Asked to respond, Minister Roberge refused to answer questions from reporters.

A few weeks after the start of the school year, which was described as "chaotic" by some, Rizqy felt it was necessary to return to the issue, believing that Roberge "is unable to fulfill his obligations as minister."

"It's over for the minister, whose time at the head of the Ministry of Education is a failure," she said. 

While saying she had affection for this "nice guy," who is "a good person," she said she wanted to make Roberge "realize that he is not the right man for the job," that he is "completely overwhelmed" by recent events.

"The truth is that if it had been a woman, Roberge would have been fired. If it had not been Jean-François Roberge, but rather 'Marie-France' Roberge, he would not have been able to hold his position," said Rizqy, adding that female ministers in the Legault cabinet had "lost their jobs for much less than that."

According to her, the premier had a conflict of loyalty and chose to protect his friend against all logic, rather than protect the education system.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 24, 2021./