Quebec 2016-17

Written by  //  August 17, 2017  //  Québec  //  No comments

Quebec post 2014 elections

Share of anglophones in Quebec declining, not increasing, corrected census figures show
Statistics Canada had initially reported an unexplainable boom in anglophones in the province
The new numbers show the share of Quebecers with English as their only mother tongue decreased to 7.5 per cent from 7.7 per cent in 2011, rather than the increase to 8.1 per cent that was first indicated when the language results from the 2016 census were released earlier this month.

A shrinking share of Quebecers say English is the language they speak most often at home, decreasing to 9.7 per cent from 9.8 per cent. The initial figures had shown this number had increased to 10.4 per cent.
The figures were recalculated after it was discovered that a computer error caused roughly 61,000 Canadians who reported their mother tongue as French to instead be counted as English speakers.
The error was primarily limited to French speakers in Quebec who had been asked to fill incomplete information in their census filing. Boxes for language were placed in a different order on the French and English forms, but the computer program counting these forms did not take this into account.

11 August
Language wars heating up?
Le franglais du bâtonnier de Montréal critiqué!
Un avocat reproche au bâtonnier de Montréal de ne pas avoir rédigé un texte uniquement en français…
Me Pierre-Marc Boyer est tombé de sa chaise lorsqu’il a lu le mot du bâtonnier (voir le texte plus bas) de Montréal publié le 8 août dernier.
Il reproche à Me Brian Mitchell d’avoir écrit un texte en « franglais ».

10 August
Parti Québécois leader calls for new, stricter Quebec language law
Only people who can speak French should be allowed to immigrate to the province, Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee said Thursday in reaction to 2016 census data.
Lisee said if his party wins the 2018 election, it will introduce a new, stricter language law to stem what called a worrying trend in the use of French in Quebec.
“We say if we are in power, in the first 101 days we will table legislation to make sure all new immigrants will have to show knowledge of French before they can come to Quebec,” he told reporters.
Refugees are an exception, said Lisee, who explained people who claim asylum can learn French once they arrive.
Lisee added a future Bill 202 would force all companies in Quebec with 25 employees or more to conduct all business in French, which is currently the case for firms with 50 people or more.
Quebecers who attend English universities and junior colleges would also need a degree in French proficiency before being allowed to graduate, even if they intended on moving outside the province.
“They can move any time they wish,” Lisee said. “But if you want to have a degree of higher education in Quebec, it’s just basic decency to give you the tools for your success. And one of these tools is for you to be proficient in French.”

31 July
Jack Jedwab: Alarmist reactions to census language data are predictable
On Wednesday, Statistics Canada will release the 2016 census results on the languages Canadians first learned (their mother tongue), the language(s) they speak at home and their knowledge of English and/or French.
Here’s a safe prediction, based on many years of observation: Some politicians, academics and pundits will state that mother-tongue francophones are becoming a minority, a plight they suggest will result in a doomsday scenario, the dominance of English.
Such analyses, which tap into francophones’ insecurities about the future of the French language, generally have at least two serious flaws. They are based on the arbitrary (or not so arbitrary) selection of the Island of Montreal (as opposed to the Montreal region) as the place that will decide the fate of the French language. And they apply the term “minority” to the island’s francophone population, something that betrays a faulty assumption that the multiple language groups lumped together as “allophones” somehow combine with anglophones to form a majority, one united by its use of the English language and some presumed readiness to impose it on minority francophones. This in turn sparks fears that the island’s so-called minority francophones will no longer be able to get immigrants and their children to acquire the French language.
At each census release, the veracity of claims about the imminent danger to the French language is insufficiently challenged. In his book Is This Who We Are? 14 Questions about Quebec, respected La Presse columnist Alain Dubuc is one of the few who strongly question the use of figures for the Island of Montreal to assess the condition of French. He notes that the island is separated from the South Shore by a river, not a wall, and it makes no meaningful difference whether a francophone chooses to move to off-island St-Lambert rather than to on-island Pointe-Claire. Given that many middle class francophones have chosen to live in off-island suburbs, the decision to use the island to assess the state of French often appears to be motivated more by political than demographic considerations.

16 June
Swift positive reaction to Couillard’s new anglo secretariat
(Montreal Gazette) Conceding some of the recent tensions in the English-speaking community over health and education could have been averted, Premier Philippe Couillard has announced plans to put in place a new government secretariat dealing with the minority’s issues.
And in a significant shift from his past views, Couillard has not ruled out naming a specific cabinet minister responsible for the community.

13 June
Couillard government has taken anglophone decline to heart, group says
(Montreal Gazette) Representatives of Quebec’s English-speaking community are welcoming news the Quebec and federal governments are having a fresh look at ways to deal with the decline and fragile future of rural minorities.
“I’ve never seen a letter quite like this, which appears to address and recognize some of the concerns we have been talking about over a period of time,” James Shea, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, said in a phone interview.
… Quebec’s minister of intergovernmental affairs, Jean-Marc Fournier, who has met with the QCGN in the past, has passed those concerns up the pipeline to Ottawa, which provides millions in funding for minority communities. … Invited by federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly to give his opinion on the state of the francophone minority in Canada and the anglophone minority in Quebec, Fournier wrote back in a letter that the picture looks bleak.
Although organizations like the QCGN have been sounding the alarm about the decline for many years, it has been a while since the Quebec government took up their cause.

5 June

World Environment Day: Huge swath of Quebec forest, wetland to be protected forever
A 6,000-hectare swath of forest and wetland with historical significance in western Quebec will be conserved forever thanks to the Nature Conservancy of Canada and federal and private funding.
The non-profit Nature Conservancy of Canada made the announcement of the protection of the Kenauk property, near Montebello, at a news conference on Monday. The day is designated World Environment Day.
The land, which once belonged to Patriote leader Louis-Joseph Papineau, who led the 1837-38 rebellions against British rule in Lower Canada, is about halfway between Montreal and Ottawa.
The protected land is along a 20-kilometre corridor that’s three kilometres wide and is home to more than 170 species. The area contains rivers and lakes, so the land isn’t contiguous.
The land contains the largest known population of black maple trees in Quebec. Black maple forests are considered to be at risk under the province’s Threatened or Vulnerable Species Act.
It is also the habitat of the Eastern grey wolf, a species that is considered to be of special concern under the Canada’s Species at Risk Act, and the American black bear.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada announces the protection of 6,000 hectares on the historic Kenauk property (the Seigneurie Papineau) between Montreal and Ottawa

18 May
Allison Hanes: Treatment of MUHC is symptom of bigger problem
(Montreal Gazette) … public concern about the hobbled MUHC is a symptom of a larger malaise.
The anglophone community is sick and tired of issues that matter to them being taken for granted by the Quebec Liberals, a party most of them have loyally supported for decades. Many told me their patience is rapidly running out and that they are toying with taking their votes elsewhere in 2018.
Is that just bluster? A Mainstreet poll of 1,500 Quebecers conducted for the Montreal Gazette and Postmedia last week shows the Quebec Liberals and the Coalition Avenir Québec are in a statistical dead heat, with 31 and 32 per cent support apiece. The CAQ surge in the last few weeks can be partly attributed to the party picking up traditional Liberal backers. With the numbers for the Parti Québécois down in the dumps, the risks of shifting allegiance have been greatly reduced for federalists and minorities.
Although pollster David Valentin suggested the erosion in Liberal support is due to a blast of past corruption coming back to haunt them, I would suggest any collapse of their Montreal base is at least in part a result of repeatedly ignoring their concerns.
Here are a few recent examples: the English-speaking community very politely floated the idea of an anglophone affairs secretariat being created inside the Quebec bureaucracy. Premier Philippe Couillard rebuffed the proposal, promising instead to appoint a liaison within his office. Was formalizing the position not needed, as he suggested, or just not worth it?
There are irregularities that warrant investigation at two of Montreal’s English-language school boards that the community certainly wants to see thoroughly probed. But an earlier proposal to abolish school board elections had to be abandoned. Though some parents were for it and the greater role Bill 86 would have given them, constitutionally enshrined minority language protections were threatened.
Then there are the grave omissions in the new provincial history curriculum that give short shrift to the contributions of anglophones, indigenous people and other minority groups to Quebec society. It was drafted when the PQ was in power, but the Liberals haven’t stepped in to prevent stereotypical portrayals from being perpetuated for future generations.
The commission in charge of redrawing Quebec’s electoral map has — once again — reinforced the electoral weight of the (shrinking) francophone majority in the regions at the expense of minority communities in Montreal. Now this supposedly apolitical work by an independent body, has created a political headache for the Quebec Liberals. Municipalities and community groups on the island of Montreal have banded together to fight the electoral boundary changes. On Thursday, they will announce a court challenge, to be led by constitutional expert Julius Grey.
Are Quebec anglophones demanding too much? Basic respect, acknowledgment of their interests and preservation of their institutions hardly seem like asking for the moon. And if talk of merging the MUHC is merely a trial balloon as Barrette claims, why doesn’t he go ahead and pop it already?
The Liberals should continue to ignore Montreal’s English-speaking community at their own peril. Not only are they mobilizing to stand up for their hospitals, they are ready to stand up for themselves.

12 May
Academic urges Quebec to look to Europe as model to address flood management
A Quebec academic says the province lags behind other jurisdictions when it comes to proactive flood management, but can easily catch up by adopting the model used in Europe.
Pascale Biron, a professor of geography, planning and environment at Concordia University, says Quebec lacks a centralized, governmental body to oversee, track and maintain data on potential vulnerable flood risk areas.
That pales in comparison to many Canadian provinces, parts of the United States and in particular Europe where, since 2007, countries have had to provide flood plain maps and clearly identify at-risk areas. …
In Quebec, water management has shifted increasingly to municipalities, while waterfront homes yield more taxes. Biron said those lucrative tax dollars partly explain why politicians lobby hard to get residents to rebuild in the same spot, despite the risks.
“There’s no incentive for mayors to stop development because, if you do, you’re potentially losing a lot of money,” Biron said.
The province deals with yearly spring flooding, with particularly terrible damage in 2011 in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, near Montreal.
Biron lamented there was no data collected from six years ago to use in models, as well as no notable post-mortem documents.

11 May
Top-level change loosens grip of Bombardier founding family
Bombardier Inc. executive chairman Pierre Beaudoin is relinquishing his management role and taking a major pay cut after an unprecedented revolt by taxpayers and investors against what the company’s biggest outside shareholder called a “lapse of governance” at the beleaguered Canadian plane maker.
Bombardier sparked public fury, especially in its home province of Quebec, with a decision to raise the 2016 pay of its top executives by nearly 50 per cent at a time it is receiving more than $1-billion in support from taxpayers for its C Series program and cutting thousands of jobs. The company said the increases were necessary to attract talented managers. But critics said Mr. Beaudoin’s pay hike was egregious because he did not need to be recruited from outside.
In a direct challenge to Bombardier’s founding family, several large pension funds including the Caisse and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board called for a shakeup of the board, saying the company should be chaired by an independent director and withdrawing their voting support for Mr. Beaudoin as executive chairman.

9 May
Flood watch: A nonstop fight for exhausted Rigaud, Hudson residents
It has been two weeks since the town first declared a state of emergency due to the rising water levels. Last Friday, as friends and family helped him install 60 sandbags on his front lawn, Latreille could still see the grass around his house. On Monday, you couldn’t see the wall of sandbags anymore.

5 May
Quebec calls in the army to deal with flooding
‘Situation will continue to deteriorate for the next few days,’ Quebec’s public security minister says
Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux says the province has asked for and will receive assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces to deal with widespread flooding that is only going to worsen.
“We are facing a situation where we are not only dealing with serious flooding, but the situation will continue to deteriorate for the next few days,” he said, adding that the military will be deployed in affected areas starting tomorrow.
So far, 124 municipalities across the province are dealing with flooding, especially in the regions of Montreal, Laval, the Montérégie, Mauricie, Lanaudière and the Laurentians.
St. Lawrence River could rise if N.Y. request to lower Lake Ontario is approved
‘Doing everything that we can to relieve everyone’: Move could affect high Lac Saint-Louis

27 April
Feds give $1M to Quebec groups serving English-speaking community
Ottawa is providing more than $1 million in funding for community groups in Quebec that serve the English-speaking community.
Ten organizations will benefit from the funding over two years, chosen from 43 groups that made submissions for projects.
The money is being administered by the Quebec Community Groups Network, an umbrella organization for 53 different organizations.
The projects chosen range from support for youth and seniors in Montreal all the way to the lower north shore and even the Magdalen Islands.
Here’s the full list:
-Coasters Association
-Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders
-New Hope Senior Citizens Centre
-NDG Food Depot
-NDG Senior Citizens’ Council
-Park Extension Youth Organization
-Phelps Helps
-Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre / DESTA Black Youth Network
-Voice of English Speaking Quebec
-Youth Employment Services Montreal

6 April
Quebec seeks to end oil exploration on Anticosti
Couillard government, long opposed to agreement inked by PQ, looks to reach settlement with consortium
(CBC) Local leaders, First Nations and environmental groups have been resisting the project.
Anticosti’s mayor has also been trying to designate the island a UNESCO heritage site to protect it from gas and oil drilling

4 April
L. Ian MacDonald: Bombardier, the NHL and the cluelessness of the very rich
(iPolitics) The Bombardier file is one they’ll be teaching in communications courses years from now — an object lesson in how not to run public and government relations
The Quebec and federal governments are heavily invested in the success of the Montreal-based company in both planes and trains. Quebec has paid US$1 billion for a 49.5 per cent equity stake in the C Series passenger jet project. The Quebec Pension Fund, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, paid US$1.5 billion for a 30-per-cent share of the rail division. And Ottawa recently loaned Bombardier $372 million for the C Series commercial jetliner and the Global 7000 business jet.
The public furor over Bombardier’s executive compensation was so intense that company brass had to do something corporations seldom do. They announced over the weekend that they would defer more than half of the US$32.6 million the executives received in compensation in 2016 until 2020.
This was, of course, after workers had staged a noisy protest outside Bombardier’s corporate office on Boulevard René Lévesque, and Quebec government officials, starting with Premier Philippe Couillard publicly expressed their displeasure with the company.

28 March

Quebec budget 2017: Trains, cash for education, tax cuts for austerity-weary Quebecers

After 3 lean years, Liberals boost spending in ‘sustainable, responsible’ budget
(CBC) Small tax cuts and bigger-than-expected increases for health and education will drive Quebec government spending in 2017.
The Liberal government’s fourth budget, tabled Tuesday, continues an effort begun last year to ease the pain of the austerity measures that marked the beginning of its mandate.
In his speech before the National Assembly, Finance Minister Carlos Leitao called it a good news budget that is “sustainable and responsible” — one that balances “renewed hope” with prudence.
The showcase element for the Liberals, who campaigned on promises of tax cuts, is the retroactive elimination of the so-called health contribution.
Its abolition for 2017 was announced last fall. Now Quebecers earning less than $134,095 won’t have to pay their 2016 contribution, which will put between $50 and $175 back in their pockets this year.
 What Quebec’s budget means for you
With a projected surplus of nearly $2.5 billion for 2017-2018, education and higher education will see a 4.2 per cent increase, while health willl see a 4.3 per cent increase.

23 March
Andrew Potter resigns from McGill post after Maclean’s essay on Quebec
Resignation from Institute for the Study of Canada prompts questions about academic freedom

21 March
Quebec premier lashes out at Maclean’s for suggesting province is in state of ‘serious dysfunction’
Andrew Potter, who penned the piece, has apologized for certain ‘rhetorical flourishes’
Maclean’s published an essay on its website Monday that described last week’s traffic jam on Montreal’s Highway 13, which left hundreds of people stranded in their cars overnight in the midst of a blinding snowstorm, as a “mass breakdown in the social order.” …
Early Tuesday afternoon, Potter issued a statement on Facebook that apologized for the “rhetorical flourishes” contained in the piece.
“To begin with, I generalized from a few minor personal anecdotes about the underground economy in Montreal to portray entire industries in a bad light,” Potter wrote. “I also went too far in my description of Quebec society as alienated.”

20 March
How a snowstorm exposed Quebec’s real problem: social malaise
The issues that led to the shutdown of a Montreal highway that left drivers stranded go beyond mere political dysfunction
Maclean’s notes in an updateControversy that erupted in Quebec immediately after this piece was published caused the author to write a Facebook post, which can be found here. We also wish to correct two errors of fact. Due to an editing error, a reference in an earlier version of this piece noted that “every restaurant” offered two bills. We have clarified this to say “some restaurants will offer you two bills.”
We have also removed a reference in an earlier version noting that “bank machines routinely dispense fifties by default.”

18 March
How did 300 cars come to be trapped overnight, on a highway, in the middle of a snowstorm?
Here’s a minute-by-minute breakdown of what happened Tuesday night

16 March
For how many years have Montrealers mocked Toronto for bringing in the army?
highway-13Quebec premier apologizes, launches review after drivers spend night stuck on Highway 13
Senior Transports Québec official relieved of her duties, SQ officer in charge now on administrative leave
(CBC) Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has announced an independent review into the government’s handling of this week’s snowstorm, after more than 300 people were stuck on Highway 13 in Montreal overnight.
Couillard stood by his cabinet colleagues as the political opposition called for heads to roll. However, an assistant deputy minister has been shuffled out of her job in the Transport Ministry.
At a news conference, Couillard apologized on behalf of the government for its poor response. “I see serious shortcomings in how people worked together.”

8 March
beryl-wajsman suburbanEditor-in-chief of Suburban newspaper threatens legal action over electoral boundary changes
Greek community latest to express ‘disbelief’ over new electoral map changes
As Laval’s Greek community joins the growing list of groups opposed to the electoral representation commission’s final riding map, a local newspaper publisher is threatening legal action over the changes.
The Hellenic vote has historically been concentrated within Laval’s Chomedey riding. With boundary redistribution, the area west of the Le Boutillier Park bike path and between du Souvenir Road and Saint-Martin Boulevard West will now belong in the riding of Fabre.
Dozens protesting electoral redistribution in downtown Montreal
In response to the criticism that the new electoral boundaries divide established communities, Beryl Wajsman, editor-in-chief of the English-language weekly newspaper The Suburban, is hoping to mount legal action.
Since Sunday, people have pledged more than $6,500 towards the legal costs.
“How do you take away an assembly voice for the anglophone and allophone community?” asked Wajsman. “It makes no sense. It’s past making no sense. It’s a slap in the face.”
Beryl comments: I did send a note to Ryan that tho this is an excellent and accurate story they’ve got to change the word “threaten”…u can’t “threaten” legal action …u can propose, examine, etc..but using the law as a “threat ” is not something I either said nor can it really be done with a state agency with a snap of the fingers…

13 February
Proposed new electoral map an ‘attack’ on the Anglo vote, lobby group says
A proposal to eliminate a provincial riding with a large anglophone population could damage the community’s political voice, according to a prominent Anglo lobby group.
Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, says he was “surprised and shocked” at proposed revisions to the electoral map announced last week by the province’s chief electoral officer.

6 February
Hatley Report: The economy
The province is still operating in a budgetary surplus, a stark contrast to the federal government’s endless spending. Job numbers are also growing. From July to December, Quebec gained 71,900 new jobs. Unemployment dropped to 6.2% in November, the lowest point since 1976. The government will use these figures to show that Quebec is a stable, healthy market that is well managed.
This confidence may also play out in government’s 2017 Budget, likely to be presented in March or April. It is too early to speculate on what will be included, but the government will likely try to grow the surplus, encourage job creation, and potentially introduce some form of tax cuts.
A big concern going forward for the government will be the imminent negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Premier Couillard and his Minister of International Relations, Christine St-Pierre, have made it clear that they want an active voice in talks with the United States. Many issues that are speculated to change (including tariffs, supply management and softwood lumber) would have a huge effect on the province’s economy.
While the Couillard government will be busy defending Quebec’s interests abroad, the PQ’s Lisée is advocating for economic nationalism. He argues that more needs to be done to promote a ‘Buy Quebec’ attitude and to keep Quebec companies headquartered in the province. In front of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, Lisée said that “the one who worries me is not Mr. Trump, it’s Mr. Trudeau.”

30 January
Police say only one suspect in deadly Quebec City mosque attack
(Globe & Mail) Two men were in custody after a mass shooting Sunday night at a mosque in Quebec City that killed six people and wounded several more, and was condemned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “a terrorist attack on Muslims.”
From Paris to NYC to a Syrian girl, world mourns Quebec mosque shooting
(CBC) Deadly attack prompts outpouring of sympathy from across globe

2016

8 December
YES, YES and YES!
Petition calls for English to be used on Quebec road signs
(CTV) In the week since it was opened, 1,300 people have signed a petition calling for Quebec to use English on road signs.
The official petition at the National Assembly says while French is the official language of Quebec, the law does permit English to be used in addition to French on signs if it’s a matter of health and public safety.
The petitioners argue notices such as risk of aquaplaning, slow down, turn on your headlights are obvious public safety notices that should be understood by all drivers.
They argue that unilingual drivers including tourists are unlikely to understand a notice such as “Voie cahoteuse”
Cote St. Luc councillor Ruth Kovac approached Birnbaum with the idea several months ago, and lawyer Harold Staviss drafted the document.
The MNA for D’Arcy McGee, David Birnbaum, opened the petition at the National Assembly, and it can be signed until March 2, 2017.
It is available to be signed on the National Assembly’s website.
5 December
While none of us were paying close attention
Four provincial by-elections were held Monday night
• No changes as Liberals keep 1 seat, PQ defends 2, and the CAQ holds onto 1
• By-elections were the first real test for the PQ’s new leader, who emerged strong
Governing Liberals see their overall support fall
16 November
Quebec may soon welcome an anglophone affairs minister
(Global) If assigned, the anglophone affairs minister would be in charge of staying in contact with the QCGN, a non-profit group made up of 51 English community organizations, as well as those in the English-speaking community.
“[This] is the case in the rest of country with official language minorities, so it wouldn’t be a wildly unprecedented step,” said Chambers.
For now, Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley and Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil will assume the position of English community representatives.
8 November
Quebec Community Groups Network optimistic after private meeting with premier
An hour-long meeting with the premier has allowed the Quebec Community Groups Network to dream big again.
The private audience — a first since the group met with former premier Bernard Landry nearly 15 years ago — was the chance the QCGN was waiting for to spell out its idea for a liaison office.
“The premier indicated a willingness to consider creating some sort of office, appointment, something, at a more bureaucratic level, that would enable us to get where it’s happening,” said lawyer Eric Maldoff, chair of QCGN’s health and social services committee, “because by the time it’s introduced as legislation, the trouble’s there.”
Last year, anglophones were taken aback when the Couillard government passed Bill 10, which abolished the boards of individual health institutions and merged them into 28 regional boards, to save about $200 million a year.
And they fought tooth and nail against Bill 86, the government’s proposed school board reform, which would have eliminated province-wide school board elections.
In both cases, the QCGN argued anglophones no longer had any real power over the institutions they helped build.
Premier Philippe Couillard told reporters he intends to keep the conversation flowing: “I hope it will be the first of a succession of meetings so that we can talk about their concerns,” he said. “Affirming Quebec’s identity, including its language, should never be done at the expense of our English-speaking community in Quebec, which played a very important, historic role in the development of modern Quebec.”
Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée said it is “scandalous” the premier waited two and a half years into his mandate to meet with QCGN.
He vowed to name a minister responsible for the English-speaking community if elected premier.
12 June
For Quebec Liberals, a summer to recover from self-inflicted wounds
Couillard has some soul searching to do after a miserable legislative session
When the Quebec Liberals invoked closure to force a vote on its controversial Uber bill on Friday, it brought a merciful end to what was an interminable legislative session for the government.
The Liberals are limping their way into the summer recess, following months of legislative flip-flops, ethics scandals and indecorous outbursts.
But most unsettling for the government — and uplifting for the opposition — is the extent to which its wounds have been self-inflicted.
The Liberal party’s own youth wing rebelled publicly against Transport Minister Jacques Daoust’s pro-taxi bill, convincing enough party members to pass a motion calling on the government to get with the times.
And then, of course, there was Robert Poeti, Daoust’s predecessor, offering a surprisingly frank assessment of a culture of corruption and intimidation that had taken root within the Transport department. …Opinion polling suggests that despite their missteps, the Liberals have avoided bleeding too much support. Moreover, the next provincial election isn’t scheduled until 2018; plenty of time to right the ship.
But it is also possible that, several months down the line, Liberals will look back at the winter and spring of 2016 as a missed opportunity.
Half way through the session, after all, the Opposition suddenly found itself leaderless following Pierre Karl Péladeau’s surprise resignation.
3 June
Don Macpherson: Unusual dissension among Quebec Liberals
There have been too many abrupt “Philippe-flops” on policy. And there have been too many slow responses to new political problems, as if Quebec has three time zones: Atlantic, Eastern and Couillard time, which is 48 hours behind everybody else. …
In the latest Léger survey, however, conducted May 4-5, Liberal dissatisfaction with the government jumped to a new high of 25 per cent, from 14 per cent in Léger’s poll March 21-22.
This doesn’t mean that Couillard is in danger of being overthrown by his party before the next election. After all, the party is still in power. And with Pierre Moreau, the runner-up to Couillard at the 2013 Liberal leadership convention, on leave for health reasons, there’s no obvious candidate to replace Couillard.
But while Couillard still has more than two years left before he must face the electorate, his party is already showing signs of nervousness.
27 May
Anglos’ view of history casts them as outcasts in Quebec: study
Typecast as the villains of Quebec history, anglophones long to be accepted as partners, according to a new study.
“There’s this yearning to be part of the collective ‘we’,” said Paul Zanazanian, an assistant professor of education at McGill University who presented the unpublished research at a one-day symposium last week.
The three-year study shines a light on how anglophones see their own history.
For many, the dominant narrative is about feeling like outsiders by virtue of their language.
19 May
Teachers opt for new Quebec history course amid confusion over pilot project
Education Minister Sébastien Proulx has given ‘mixed messages’ about curriculum reform, teacher says
(CBC) The text books are at the printers — and many high school teachers say they are planning to teach the province’s new history course this fall.
That’s despite Education Minister Sébastien Proulx’s decision to shelve the controversial new curriculum, or at least delay its implementation until changes are made to better reflect Quebec’s cultural diversity.
Josée Scalabrini, the president of the Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement, which represents 62,000 teachers in the province, said teachers have been anxiously awaiting the new course and would teach it next year.
Even at English-language schools, where many teachers have been critical of the course’s content, some say the new course is better than the status quo, and they’ll go ahead with the new program.
Quebec puts hold on controversial new history course
Why teach history? The battle over Quebec’s high school history curriculum
13 May
Quebec education minister scraps Bill 86
(Global) He said the government would rather focus on bigger priorities, the main one being student success rates. Proulx added a possible constitutional challenge over Bill 86 wouldn’t be worth the time and resources.
This means that school board elections are here to stay, at least for the time being.
Proulx said the goal is to bring Quebec’s graduation rate near that of Ontario’s. That province announced a graduation rate of 85 per cent last week. To make that goal a reality, a new bill will be tabled.
Proulx said he’s looking at compulsory schooling until the age of 18, increased resources for special needs students and a professional order for teachers.
28 April
Quebec anglophones to benefit from up to $3-million in new funding
(Montreal Gazette) The federal government will spend $1 for every $2 contributed by the private sector for projects that help English-speaking youth, seniors and immigrants in Quebec, the Quebec Community Groups Network announced Thursday.
The funding comes from a $4-million national Community Innovation Fund, financed by Employment and Social Development Canada, to help official language minority communities, with up to $1.4 million from that fund going to programs to help anglophones in Quebec.
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), which brings together 48 English-language community organizations across the province, will use about $400,000 of that funding to manage the program here in Quebec. That money will be used to hire a coordinator, pay an outside consultant, create a website and promote the program among community groups and private sector partners.
“Over the next three months or so we will be consulting our community members so that we build a vision together for how this $3 million will be spent in our communities to benefit youth, seniors and newcomers,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general of QCGN.
18 April
Minister confirms there will be ‘important regulation change’ regarding signage to protect French language
Acting Culture Minister Hélène David confirmed Monday she will soon present a regulation change aimed at increasing the presence of French on storefronts across the province.
It will be “an important change for the French language,” the minister said, adding the modification to “strengthen Bill 101” will be “another nice string to the bow of the Liberal Party and the government.”
Between Nov. 19 and Dec. 1, David said her parliamentary assistant consulted with at least a dozen groups, including the Quebec Community Groups Network, City of Montreal, Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Société St-Jean-Baptiste, Association des restaurateurs, Association pour le soutien et l’usage de la langue française, Association québécoise pour l’industrie de l’enseigne, Centrale des syndicats du Québec, Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Impératif français and PharmaPrix.
12 April
Super nurse clinics: When bureaucracy prevents better access to care
(Montreal Economic Institute) Quebec’s Health Department is senselessly blocking the opening of clinics run by nurse practitioners who specialize in front-line care. Yet these doctorless clinics would respond to real needs among the population, access to front-line care being one of the main failings of Quebec’s health system. Moreover, a nurse practitioner costs the health care system around 1/3 of what a general practitioner costs. …
The case of super nurses illustrates just how difficult it is for innovative solutions to emerge in a health care system characterized by a bureaucratic approach and rationed services. Since the 1970s, with the creation of local community service centres (CLSCs), and again in the 2000s with family medicine groups (FMGs), the solutions that the government tries to implement are always imposed from the top down, and they invariably fail.
“It’s high time to give a chance to the innovative solutions that emerge on their own,” believes Alexandre Moreau, Public Policy Analyst and co-author of the publication. “Super nurses represent a flexible solution for those who do not have easy access to a family doctor.”
18 March
Quebec budget: $2B surplus planned but $10B coming from federal equalization
(BNN) Quebec has finally controlled its spending, Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said Thursday after tabling a second consecutive balanced budget with the help of $10 billion in equalization payments.
The Liberal government is actually projecting a surplus of roughly $2 billion in 2016-17, with the money going toward chipping away at the provincial debt of $207.7 billion.
Premier Philippe Couillard went on an aggressive cost-cutting campaign after being elected in April 2014. Measures included downsizing the civil service, slashing funds earmarked for education and keeping the lid on government spending.
Leitao says Quebecers are beginning to reap the benefits of that economic rigour.
“Our fiscal house is now in order. Every Quebecer contributed to the effort that needed to be made.”
The flip side to that optimism is a massive debt that will cost a staggering $10 billion to service in 2016-17.
While Quebec’s debt in terms of raw numbers is considerably lower than Ontario’s, the ratio of Quebec’s gross debt to GDP on March 31, 2015, was 55.1 per cent, compared with 46 per cent for its western neighbour.
Quebec is also banking on Ottawa’s commitment to invest in infrastructure to help spark economic growth and has asked the federal government “to rapidly identify the projects” which will receive funding.
“Shovels must be in the ground by the next construction season, in order to revitalize the economy,” the budget document reads.
The province is calling on Ottawa to increase payments for health care to help fund services for its aging population. Quebec wants the federal government to pay for 25 per cent of provincial health-care costs, up from the 22.2 per cent set for 2016-17.
Ottawa’s health transfer to Quebec will be roughly $5.9 billion in 2016-17, which begins April 1.
The Education Department will receive the highest budget increase, at three per cent, up from the 0.9 per cent increase during the last fiscal year. That caused schools across the province to significantly scale back resources.
Infrastructure, programs to help increase graduation rates as well as services for students with disabilities will all benefit from the extra $1.2 billion over three years the government has set aside.
Infrastructure: Quebec budget puts onus on feds to fund Montreal projects
17 March
Philippe Couillard distances himself from Charest-era Liberals in wake of UPAC arrestsNathalie Normandeau
Quebec premier says his party has changed since the days when Nathalie Normandeau was deputy premier
(CBC) Nathalie Normandeau, who served as both municipal affairs minister and deputy premier under former premier Jean Charest, stands accused of conspiracy, corruption, breach of trust and bribery in connection with her political activities between 2005 and 2012.
Couillard served alongside Normandeau as health minister before resigning in 2008. He said the Liberal Party has changed underneath his leadership.
He pointed out that campaign financing laws have been strengthened and that the Liberals now have an internal code of ethics.
Normandeau isn’t the only former Liberal to face charges. Her one-time chief of staff, Bruno Lortie was also arrested this morning, as was Marc-Yvan Côté, a Liberal cabinet minister under Robert Bourassa.[Coté was also one of 10 federal Liberals expelled from the party while Paul Martin was prime minister for their roles in the sponsorship scandal.]
Two former Parti Québécois staffers, including one close to former premier Pauline Marois, were also arrested. A closer look at the Quebec political figures arrested by UPAC
Nathalie Normandeau: Rise and fall of a political star
Once touted as potential Liberal leader, Normandeau became ‘radioactive’ after she left politics
11 March
Education to become a ‘national priority’ as Quebec plans to increase spending, premier says
Next week’s provincial budget will send a very strong signal that education spending is a “national priority” for the Liberal government, Premier Philippe Couillard said Friday.
Meanwhile, Couillard’s education minister is downplaying complaints Quebec’s new high school history courses give minorities short shrift, stressing that whatever course is eventually approved will reflect the diversity — including linguistic — of Quebec.
For now, the course is only at the pilot project stage, said Education Minister Sébastien Proulx.
Proulx was beaming for another reason, when he attended Couillard’s keynote speech to the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal at the Sheraton Centre.
The premier came packing good news, a promise of fresh cash for the province’s strapped education system.
New Quebec history course falls short on First Nations, activist says
Ellen Gabriel says new teaching guide misses an opportunity to address the failure of previous curricula
The curriculum is being piloted this year in several dozen schools in 2015-2016. A final version is expected to be rolled out across the province next year.
The two-year course begins with the arrival of French settlers in the 1500s, with the first module examining the experience of aboriginal people under colonization. …
David Birnbaum, the parliamentary assistant to Quebec’s education minister, told CBC News on Thursday that Quebec’s new history curriculum will undergo more changes before it is rolled out across the province.
He said the program has already been altered since the Liberals came to power to more accurately reflect the history of Quebec’s non-francophone and aboriginal communities.
10 March
School board reform ‘potentially disastrous’ for English-speaking community, QESBA tells minister
QESBA President Jennifer Maccarone, who received a warm welcome from the committee studying Bill 86, said the government should scrap the piece of legislation and instead make small changes to the existing Quebec Education Act, although, she said, it isn’t clear what the Liberals are trying to fix.
“QESBA has been seeking since 1998 to give our parent commissioners the right to vote … to allow (them) to have more rights around the table,” she told the National Assembly committee studying the bill. “We would also like to propose that we merge municipal and school elections to ensure that we have a greater voter turnout, to ensure that there’s less voter apathy, to give more importance to that level of school democracy and to ensure that the rights of the local communities are maintained and remain vital.”
The Liberals presented Bill 86 last fall, after complaining school board elections cost too much, and generated little interest in the population.
Premier Philippe Couillard also said he wanted to give schools back to parents, teachers and principals.
Bill 86 would abolish province-wide school board elections and replace elected councils of commissioners, which currently oversee school board operations, with school councils made up of six parents, one teacher, one non-teaching staff, two principals, and six community members. Each school board’s director general would also sit on the council, as a non-voting member.
22 February
Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Moreau steps down due to illness
Premier Philippe Couillard tweaked his cabinet on Monday after Education Minister Pierre Moreau relinquished his major responsibilities because of health issues.
Moreau’s office issued a statement saying his symptoms, clinical tests and medical imaging point to a neoplasia — a new, uncontrolled growth of cells that suggests a tumour.
“It’s sad news today,” Couillard said. “Sad news that hits a brilliant man, a strong man, a man who is committed, committed in everything he does, as he will be in his fight against his illness.”
Couillard announced that Moreau’s portfolios will be split among three people.
Helene David will take over as higher education minister, while Family Minister Sebastien Proulx will also become education minister.
Lucie Charlebois will take over from Moreau as minister representing the Montreal-area Monteregie region, in addition to her current tasks in public health and youth protection.
11 February
Bill 86 schedule ‘lightened’ because of education minister’s illness
Education Minister Pierre Moreau will gradually return to work next week to kick off school board hearings, his press attaché said on Thursday.
But don’t expect the minister to do 15-hour days. “It will be a lightened schedule,” said Catherine Poulin, stopping short of divulging the minister’s mystery illness.
The lighter schedule means the English Montreal School Board, slated to present a brief at the Bill 86 hearings on Tuesday, is being moved to another time slot.
10 February
TransCanada must overcome Quebec identity politics in quest to build Energy East
By Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
The company behind Energy East, TransCanada (TSX:TRP), says it is confident it can address worries about spills, explosions and the perceived lack of economic benefits for communities along the proposed pipeline route from Alberta to New Brunswick.
What TransCanada might have a more difficult time dealing with are two Quebec-specific obstacles that stand in the way of the project getting approval in the province.
28 January
Quebec cabinet shuffle sees Pierre Moreau moved to education, Martin Coiteux to public safety
Dominique Anglade made economy minister, François Blais moves to labour and employment
Martin Coiteux is leaving as president of the treasury board and taking over the municipal affairs and public security portfolios. Also Minister responsible for the Montreal region.
Newcomer Dominique Anglade, a former member of Coalition Avenir Québec, is the new economy minister — the second woman to ever hold the position.
She is joined by Rita De Santis, who is also new to cabinet, taking on access to information and democratic reform.
Hatley Strategies comments: After two and half months of suspense waiting for a rumoured cabinet shuffle to happen, it finally came today. The Couillard government was recently criticized – by former Liberal ministers, no less – for neglecting economic policy.
And today his new strategy was unveiled, with what he refers to as a “Fourth Industrial Revolution”: a focus on innovation and a greener economy. This is a tangible shift in the government’s discourse, which was previously centered on the “Plan Nord” natural resources development plan and a maritime development strategy.
To do this, Couillard has named newly elected MNA Dominique Anglade as Quebec’s new Minister of the Economy, Science and Innovation, and Digital Strategy. The first-time addition of a digital strategy to the portfolio suggests the government is taking a hard look at ways to modernize Quebec. … The well-regarded Pierre Moreau moving to Education sends a strong signal that education is becoming a bigger priority.
Montreal MNA Dominique Anglade brings compelling credentials to Liberal cabinet
27 January
Hadekel: Report advocates overhaul of Quebec’s tax regime
As its name would suggest, the Centre for Productivity and Prosperity believes Quebec would be a lot more prosperous if it were more productive.
It’s a simple equation. Work smarter and more effectively and the economy can start to generate more wealth and a better standard of living for everyone.
The Centre, run by the HEC business school in Montreal, measures Quebec’s progress — or lack thereof — in a number of ways. Its 2015 report released this week makes for revealing reading.
The province’s prosperity has been on a downward tilt since the 1980s once its per capita income is measured against most other North American jurisdictions and developed economies.
The tax burden on business is 30 per cent higher than in Ontario, while the value of production here is lower on a relative basis. The burden on small business is particularly high — with tax rates on the first $500,000 of income ranging between 1.8 and 4 times the Canadian average.
25 January
Plan Nord: le discours de Philippe Couillard accueilli avec scepticisme
«Il faut refaire encore la promotion du Plan Nord», a constaté le premier ministre, en revenant avec les journalistes sur cet échange. M. Couillard a aussitôt blâmé le gouvernement précédent. Sous la gouverne de Pauline Marois, le Plan Nord a subi «un immense recul», a-t-il déploré. «Pour les gens, c’était fini. Je peux vous le dire, ils me l’ont dit partout dans le monde.»
Il faut «repartir la machine, a illustré le chef libéral. […] C’est toute une entreprise, […] surtout dans le contexte économique actuel, c’est encore plus exigeant.»
21 January
Couillard satisfait de sa récolte à Davos
(Journal de Montréal) […] il a procédé à quatre annonces totalisant près d’un demi milliard de dollars qui entraîneront le maintien ou la création d’environ 500 emplois au Québec.
Au dernier jour de sa présence à Davos, où s’achève la 46e édition du Forum économique mondial, M. Couillard a procédé à deux annonces avec des entreprises issues des secteurs pharmaceutique et médical.
18 January
Le Plan Nord au ralenti pour cinq ans, selon Louis Gignac
(La Presse) Le vétéran ne voit pas de réveil du Plan Nord à court terme. Pas avant cinq ans, estime-t-il, et surtout pas dans le fer, un secteur en surcapacité et où le Québec ne peut rivaliser avec l’Australie.
«À part Stornoway, il n’y a pas de projets miniers prévisibles au Québec. Le prochain sera dans le secteur des métaux, l’or probablement, mais pas avant cinq ans.»
Louis Gignac
Le secteur minier est cyclique, et le problème, selon Louis Gignac, c’est que tout le monde est parti en peur en 2005 lorsque la Chine consommait des matières premières avec l’appétit d’un ogre. On était convaincus qu’on entrait dans un super cycle minier.
1 January
Martin Patriquin: Pierre Karl Péladeau won’t be a Parti Québécois saviour
Pierre Karl Péladeau is not going to ignite the PQ. He is about to fall into some familiar political traps.
(Maclean’s) [According to sources,former Péquiste minister Martine Ouellet] and other PQ MNAs have reportedly also bristled against the appointment of Bernard Drainville as parliamentary leader and Pierre Duchesne as Péladeau’s chief of staff. Both men are proponents of the PQ’s “identity” strategy, which saw the party refocus on its white, francophone base as a means to win the 2014 election.
It included Drainville’s proposed Quebec values charter, which would have outlawed “conspicuous” religious symbols from the heads, faces and lapels of Quebec public servants. The identity strategy was ultimately a flop: in the 2014 election the party suffered its worst electoral defeat, in terms of popular support, in its 47-year history.
Péladeau’s appointment of Drainville and Duchesne begat a string of departures from the party, chief among them Stéphane Bédard.

Nathalie Normandeau

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