From the desk of Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge, the Weekly Update keeps our Network leaders and members up to date on the advocacy, policy, legislative, public education, and social activities of the Quebec Community Groups Network. It also includes news about upcoming QCGN member and community events, as well as information on funding and other opportunities. Send comments and suggestions to email@example.com.
QCGN seeks to intervene in appeal of Bill 40 decision
Last week, the QCGN submitted an application to the Quebec Court of Appeal for leave to intervene in the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court ruling that declared parts of Bill 40 were unconstitutional. Bill 40, An Act to amend mainly the Education Act with regard to school organization and governance abolished school boards, creating service centres and transferred significant responsibility to manage and control schools to the Minister of Education. In August, Justice Sylvain Lussier struck down several sections of Bill 40 because they infringed on Section 23 rights (minority language educational rights) contained in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Government of Quebec is appealing that decision. Following a recent Board decision, the QCGN is applying to intervene to address the following issues:
- The scope of rights-holders entitled to exercise the right of management and control under Section 23.
- The relationship between the individual and collective dimensions of Section 23 and the role of communal decision-making.
- The importance of Section 23 to the vitality of the English-speaking communities in Quebec.
- The relevance of evidence regarding the historical treatment of a linguistic minority to the scope of Section 23.
- The assessment of governmental consultation within the Section 23 analysis; and
- The proper balance between Quebec's ability to legislate in the area of education under Sections 93 and 93A of the Constitution Act, 1867 and the autonomy that must be provided to official language minority communities under Section 23 of the Charter.
QCGN supports Open Letter by Bishop's Student Representative Council
The QCGN joined other community leaders and groups representing thousands of students from Quebec and all across Canada as well English-speaking Quebecers in signing an open letter by the president of Bishop's University Students' Representative Council opposing the provincial government's plans to significantly increase tuition for out-of-province students. Student council president Sophia Stacey, an out-of-province student from Medicine Hat, Alberta who is now fluent in French, is worried about the future of her alma mater. "Bishop's is not eroding the presence of French in Montreal, nor in Lennoxville, Sherbrooke, our home community. Despite this, Bishop's will bear the most severe consequences of the government's proposed policy." "I refuse to stand by while the provincial government imposes insurmountable financial barriers for prospective out-of-province students, she continues. "The government's belief that this policy makes a greater contribution than the individual stories of thousands of people like me across Quebec, is a bold one, considering the lack of research-based evidence to support it." More about the open letter in this Montreal Gazette story.
The QCGN has also written to Bishop's Principal and Vice-chancellor Sébastien Lebel-Grenier congratulating on the firm stand he has taken on the dangers the new tuition policy represents, not only for his institution, but for all of Quebec. We informed Lebel-Grenier that he has the full support of the QCGN and our Board and remark that we are concerned about the future of Bishop's which is the main choice of universities for English-speaking youth from Quebec's regions. We also note his expertise in human rights and constitutional law will serve him well as he navigates the turbulent waters in which we who serve this community find ourselves.
Meanwhile QCGN, education leaders and Quebecers of all languages and stripes continue to express their concerns about this negative policy that does nothing to protect the French language and is harmful to our community and our institutions. The latest to wade into the debate is the former Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser. With the gravitas of a former journalist who taught at McGill and received honorary doctorates from Université Laval, Concordia and Bishop's, Fraser's commentary notes that in the Legault government's approach to institutions of the English-speaking community, it's hard to avoid the impression that there is ignorance, and mistrust, behind its actions."
Matthew Farfan, executive director of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network this week penned this moving letter to the editor to the Sherbrooke Record noting that the tuition hikes for out-of-province and international students is "just one more example of how xenophobic the CAQ has become". Farfan writes that as the son of an immigrant who came to Montreal in the 1940s to study medicine at McGill, he finds this latest Quebec plan "especially loathsome". Matthew writes that his dad spent his professional life helping thousands of patients (French and English); fighting in court for those injured in the workplace; and expanding his surgery skills. In doing so, he made a name for himself across Canada and internationally, thereby bringing credit to the hospitals with which he was affiliated, as well as to his adopted city, province, and country. "The implication, then, that students coming to Quebec for their education in English are somehow a threat to the survival of French, and that these people should be penalized with even higher tuition than they are already paying, is garbage," he writes. "These people should be thanked for coming here, not punished, and perhaps those who are so worried about the survival of French should rather watch less American TV and make more babies instead of victimizing others.
Please keep us in the loop of any actions that you have undertaken to oppose this measure. Please send them to our Director of Communications and Media Relations Rita Legault here.
QCGN welcomes Maggie Severs
Please join me in welcoming Maggie Severs, who joined the QCGN this week as Manager, Membership Services and Community Outreach. A native of the Eastern Townships, until recently Maggie was the Executive Director of Townshippers' Association. Following a decade of service to the English-speaking community of the Eastern Townships, Maggie has excellent knowledge of the community network and institutions serving English-speaking Quebecers as well as the many barriers members of our linguistic minority face in getting access to services. Supported by her knowledge of the community sector, Maggie is looking forward to applying her expertise in support of our QCGN members – both individuals and organizations – and the broader community. You can contact Maggie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
QCGN to present brief on early learning and child care
I will be appearing this week as a witness for the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology's study of Bill C-35 Canada Early Learning and Child Care Act. The purpose of this legislation is to set out the Government of Canada's vision for a Canada-wide early learning and child care system. It also sets out the Government of Canada's commitment to maintaining long-term funding for early learning and child care to be provided to the provinces and Indigenous peoples. Finally, the bill creates the National Advisory Council on Early Learning and Child Care. Quebec has its own agreement with Canada on this matter, the Canada-Quebec - 2021 to 2026 Asymmetrical Agreement on the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Component. The Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) provided invaluable support in the preparation of our brief. You can watch this week's committee meeting on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 11:30 at this link.
Thank you for reading our regular newsletter. For up-to-date news about the Quebec Community Groups Network you can visit our website at www.qcgn.ca or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.