Quebec 2019

Written by  //  October 2, 2019  //  Québec  //  No comments

Québec 2018

Legault Year One: How the CAQ has transformed Quebec so far
Quebec’s new political reality will be closely watched ahead of this fall′s federal election, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau runs for re-election with his provincial Liberal counterparts in a greatly weakened state, and the federal Conservatives hoping for a potential ally in Mr. Legault. (Updated 16 June)

Martin Patriquin: From Calgary, welcome leadership against Bill 21
Calgary councillor George Chahal launched his broadside against the Quebec law for a few reasons, one quite personal
A particular favourite with the province’s ethnic nationalist set, the law attempts to solve a problem Quebec doesn’t have, on the backs of religious minorities. Its breadth and cruelty are astounding. …
Though the leaders of the four main parties have made a show of being against it when asked, they are quick to say they wouldn’t intervene to challenge the law. …  In this spinelessness lies a simple political calculation. Wretched as it may be, the law is as popular as the Coalition Avenir Québec government that enacted it. There are obvious problems with this cowardice. As Chahal pointed out to me, it keeps the law out of the headlines and therefore largely out of the national gaze. Second, it robs moral support from people who are opposed to it — including from Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, whose constituency is home to the lion’s share of the province’s visible and religious minorities disproportionately affected by the law. … There have been some encouraging developments in the battle against Bill 21. After first waffling, the EMSB is proceeding with its legal challenge. And two other challenges are underway in Superior Court.
Chahal’s motion, which passed unanimously, comes on the heels of similar motions passed by municipal governments in Victoria, Brampton and Kitchener. The bad news is that our federal leaders care more about their electoral fortunes than a precedent-setting discriminatory law. The good news: governments representing over two million people are taking their place.

Bill 40 tabled: Quebec offers compromise to anglos on school boards
Under the terms of the bill, the current mandate of Quebec’s 60 francophone school boards will come to an end Feb. 29, 2020, the nine anglo boards Nov.1, 2020
Despite opposition, the Coalition Avenir Québec government is streaming ahead with plans to abolish Quebec’s school boards and replace them with service centres.
And in tabling the legislation enacting the election promise, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge confirmed he will seek a compromise with minorities threatening legal challenges by creating a two-tier education system: one for francophone schools and one for the anglophone network.
That means Roberge intends to allow the English system to continue to hold democratic elections to choose administrators of what will soon be called service centres, a right the francophone network will lose.
Under the terms of the bill, the current mandate of Quebec’s 60 francophone school boards will come to an end Feb. 29, 2020 to be replaced by 60 service centres. The mandate of the nine anglophone boards will end Nov. 1, 2020 which will now be election day for the new board of directors.
Three indigenous school boards are not affected by the reform.

28 August
EMSB and CSDM will comply with Quebec religious symbols bill
Schools belonging to the English Montreal School Board and Commission Scholaire de Montreal will adhere to Quebec’s religious symbols law despite an earlier vote saying the board would not comply with Bill 21.
At a meeting on Wednesday night the ESMB board voted against discussing a resolution concerning Bill 21. According to EMSB chair Angela Mancini the board will therefore be applying the law following Labour Day.
“By de facto the English Montreal School Board not making a decision this evening has rendered its decision by default and we will be applying the law come Sept. 3,” she said.

10 August
People don’t see difference between multiculturalism, interculturalism: poll
“People don’t understand this stuff and are not making the distinction,” said Jack Jedwab, president of Association for Canadian Studies.
If you ask Quebecers their views of the terms, a total of 66.2 per cent they have a “very or somewhat positive,” perception of the term interculturalism.
But a total of 72.3 per cent also have “very or somewhat positive,” view of multiculturalism. … people who don’t like muliculturalism don’t like interculturalism either, the data reveals. And whether the person is for multiculturalism or interculturalism, the views on immigration or issues like the wearing of the hijab (the Muslim head covering) are the same.
Not all Quebec Liberals agree with youth wing’s attempt to ditch multiculturalism
By Philip Authier
(Gazette) A split has emerged inside the ranks of the Quebec Liberal Party over the concept of multiculturalism. While the party youth wing thinks the idea of interculturalism will sell better with voters, stating Quebec is majority francophone society, some minority members prefer the old formula.
The president of the Quebec Liberal Party’s cultural communities committee [Mohammed Barhone] disagrees with the youth wing’s attempts to ditch multiculturalism as a way of shoring up the party’s nationalistic branding.

7 August
Young Quebec Liberals call for end to support of multiculturalism
Party should hop on the environmental bandwagon, and it should not shy away from the identity issue, youth wing says
(Gazette) The party needs to draw conclusions from its stinging electoral defeat in 2018 and emerge more progressive, more nationalistic and more active in asserting Quebec’s place in the federation, [youth wing president Stéphane] Stril told reporters at a Quebec City news conference Wednesday.
The Liberals say while the CAQ’s approach to the question amounted to a debate on religious symbols and stirring up fear of others, they believe there are better ways to ensure that Quebec’s identity and culture flourish in the North American context.
If the Liberals form the next Quebec government, they should adopt a law enshrining the concept of interculturalism as its model of choice for integrating new arrivals.

5 August
Anglo angst on rise in Quebec following CAQ election, poll shows
More than 80 per cent say they’re more worried about their rights as English-speaking citizens of Quebec since the CAQ was elected.
Since the vote, Premier François Legault’s government has embarked on a series of measures that have been vastly unpopular among English residents. They include unilaterally transferring English-language schools to French school boards,removing English signs from a Lachute hospital and imposing the secularism legislation known as Bill 21, which restricts civil servants including police officers and school teachers from wearing religious symbols on the job — a law that mainly affects minority groups.
The CAQ’s pledge to abolish school boards, considered one of the few remaining institutions left to the English minority that allow it to manage its priorities, has also increased anxieties.
The moves have prompted fears among the English-speaking population that their priorities are of little concern to the government in power.

4 August
François Legault endorsed a book by a hardline conservative. Here’s why that matters
The premier’s summer reading list included a book that takes swipes at minority groups
By Jonathan Montpetit
(CBC) … the more fundamental problem, for Bock-Côté, is that by demanding inclusion in political debates, minority groups are undermining the possibility of a truly collective identity. They do so, Bock-Côté says, by focusing solely on the misdeeds of Western civilization, rupturing “our” once firm attachment to the past. The nation is thus reduced to a mere collection of laws, stripped of the cultural values that make it a unique and a vital source of meaning for citizens, who would otherwise be lost in a rapidly modernizing world.
… His government’s secularism law — which bars public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols at work — was, after all, framed as a way to protect Quebec’s largely white, Francophone majority. “In Quebec, this is how we live,” Legault said when the secularism bill was tabled, a phrase that’s since become a slogan for the province’s cultural nationalists. But in the wake of his first year in office, minorities in Quebec are wondering how exactly their own identities fit within Legault’s vision of how people in the province should live.
The premier just gave them an answer, by endorsing a book that says the nation is threatened when minority groups ask for political recognition.

22 July

Why does Quebec have a construction holiday? (video)

9 July
Me Catherine McKenzie is in court seeking a temporary injunction pending a more complete review of Bill 21’s constitutionality.
… In court, the civil rights groups argued there were at least three other ways the law could be considered unconstitutional.
It tramples on federal jurisdiction by imposing a moral view on how religion should be practised.
Its definition of a religious symbol is so vague that it will be applied arbitrarily.
It violates protections for minority rights that are embedded in the Constitution.
These three constitutional issues, McKenzie said, demonstrate the law raises serious enough concern to merit an injunction.

6 – 8 July
How embarrassing!
Legault reiterates minister’s comment about Malala Yousafzai teaching in Quebec
“She can teach in Quebec if she accepts to remove a religious sign. That’s the decision we took, and it’s supported by the vast majority of Quebecers.”
Quebec education minister says Malala can teach here if she removes headscarf
Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said in a tweet Friday that if Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai wanted to teach in Quebec, it would be an honour, but like in other “open and tolerant countries, teachers can’t wear religious symbols while they exercise their functions.”
Twitter users were quick to lash out at Jean-François Roberge after he posted the photo since Quebec’s controversial Bill 21 goes against the type of headscarf Yousafzai wears and the freedoms she works to defend.

3 July
This encapsulates the tragic, farcical outcome of Bill 21
Martin Patriquin: A sad end to Tracy Bounil’s Montreal dream
Bounil and family moved back to Calgary this week for the saddest of reasons: she is a teacher who wears a hijab.
Eight months ago, in the dead of winter, Tracy Bounil moved her family to Montreal in search of decent jobs, affordable rent and bilingual schools — all of which were in short supply in Calgary, where they had previously lived. Within a month, she had secured a three-bedroom apartment in the schmatte district and a bilingual school for her two boys. Her husband found temp work while pursuing a career in holistic medicine. And she became a substitute teacher in the English Montreal School Board’s adult education program. A few weeks ago, the EMSB offered her full-time summer work with benefits.
I wrote about Bounil last April, highlighting among other things the absurdity that the proposed law inflicted upon her life. She teaches adults, but because adult education institutions are considered high schools, she is would have to remove her hijab to save from religious intrusion all the allegedly impressionable high school students who aren’t in her classes.

21 June
Quebec’s ban on religious clothing is chilling: To be like us, you must dress like us
By Mashoka Maimona, a law student at the University of Toronto and a member of the Human Rights Watch staff in Washington, D.C.
(LATimes) Prohibiting specific religious dress is a textbook example of religious persecution. Where is the recognition of the values of equality and fairness public servants need to be able to bring to their roles? History has shown us time and time again that targeting minority groups can lead to systematic persecution, violence and worse.
Quebec’s new law could have far-reaching consequences that go beyond keeping many people from working in the public sector or from securing government services. The message is an authoritarian one: Dress, think, believe like us — if you don’t, you are not one of us.

18 June
Quebec passes a terrible law, and for the worst reasons
(Globe & Mail editorial) … what has Mr. Legault really accomplished by making Quebec the first subnational government in North America to ban Muslim headscarves and collateral religious symbols?
Well, to start, he and his government have pushed through a poorly conceived law that will face stiff challenges in court. That means Quebeckers can’t put this issue behind them. The first legal challenge to the law was filed Monday, in fact, and is being brought by the same group that successfully derailed Bill 62.
The CAQ government took the trouble of invoking the notwithstanding clause in the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms to inoculate Bill 21 against challenges based on religious freedoms. But, as the fight against Bill 62 showed, there are parts of Canada’s Constitution that the notwithstanding clause can’t touch, and which can have something to say about cases such as this.
As well, Bill 21 is vague about what defines a religious symbol, a flaw that at one point led reporters to ask whether a wedding ring could conceivably be banned under the law. Mr. Legault dismissed the idea, but given that in many Christian wedding ceremonies the rings are blessed by the officiating priest, it is hard to see how they are a less overt religious symbol than a headscarf or crucifix.

15-17 June
Bill 21 challenged in court by the lawyer who faced down Bill 62
Catherine McKenzie filed the challenge in Quebec Superior Court on Monday on behalf of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and National Council of Canadian Muslims. McKenzie, who successfully argued against the Bill 62 religious symbols ban in 2017, says Bill 21 is a violation of the division of powers between the provinces and Canada.
“There’s case law in Canada that says that if you’re trying to legislate your moral view on someone’s religious practice or absence of religious practice, that can only be done by the federal government by virtue of its criminal law power,” McKenzie told the Montreal Gazette.
… the legal case against Quebec’s secularism law won’t come down to religious freedom, discrimination on the basis of sex or any other point that leans on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In passing the law late Sunday, the Coalition Avenir Québec government invoked the notwithstanding clause, which allows it to circumvent sections of the Charter. And so, the battle to have Bill 21 thrown out will be waged on a set of procedural arguments.
“The notwithstanding clause means that the traditional challenges under the charter don’t provide a route to the court striking the law down,” said Robert Leckey, the dean at McGill University’s School of Law. “But that doesn’t mean the law is untouchable. The Supreme Court struck down Quebec legislation targeting Jehovah’s Witnesses decades before there was a Charter.
“That case law hasn’t gone away just because there’s a Charter with a notwithstanding clause.”
Quebec government adopts controversial religious symbols bill
Religious symbols law, introduced as Bill 21, passed with a vote of 73-35 at around 10:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
(CBC) Quebec’s majority government has pushed through a controversial piece of legislation that will bar public-school teachers, government lawyers, judges and police officers from wearing religious symbols while at work.
The bill, introduced by the Coalition Avenir Québec government, passed after a marathon weekend of deliberations at Quebec’s National Assembly, in which the CAQ used a parliamentary mechanism called closure to speed through the passing of its two flagship law projects: an immigration reform and the secularism bill.
Closure shuts down the usual committee debate over a bill, and forces a vote after around 12 hours of additional discussion on the floor of the legislature.
It is the same mechanism the CAQ government used Saturday to force passage of a bill that aims to reduce delays in Quebec’s immigration system by tossing out more than 16,000 pending applications for skilled worker status.
The bill also invokes the notwithstanding clause in an effort to spare it from court challenges about its constitutionality.
Immigration reform bill voted into law by CAQ despite opposition
While all the CAQ MNAs voted for it, all the opposition MNAs were opposed. The Liberals have described the bill as a stain on the province’s image.
After a tense and emotional marathon 19-hour day and nighttime debate at the National Assembly under the shadow of closure, MNAs voted the bill into law at about 4 a.m. Sunday.
The final vote was 62 for, 42 against. All three opposition parties opposed the bill in its final form.
And while the minister expressed last minute regrets the Coalition Avenir Québec government had to suspend the regular rules of parliament to adopt the bill, he argued the law is for the best.
He added the new Arrima system – which will eventually match a pool of immigration applications to available jobs — will cut immigration application wait times from 36 months to six months and respond to Quebec’s chronic labour shortages.

12 June
Martin Patriquin: Quebecers’ double standard on women and their bodies
Quebecers back a woman’s right to have an embryo removed from her own body, but not to choose whether to wear a piece of fabric on her head.
n short: Quebecers are overwhelmingly supportive of a woman’s right to have an embryo removed from her own body. Yet if that same woman chooses to wear a piece of fabric on her head in the name of her religion, those same people suddenly become armchair mullahs, convinced they have the right and duty to coax it off. The resulting ire directed toward certain women, including observant Muslims, would make a happy man out of the average misogynist.
Consider the recent case involving Paule Robitaille. On Monday, the Liberal MNA posted a picture of herself with women from her Montreal North riding, all of whom wore the hijab head covering. It being the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, they were also dressed somewhat formally. “They are competent, intelligent and adorable,” Robitaille wrote on Twitter to her 1,900 followers. “And because of the secularism law, they won’t be able to teach in our school. A loss for everyone.” It’s a demonstrably correct assertion. Under Bill 21, the government’s proposed “laicity” law, their hijabs would preclude them from teaching elementary and high school.

27 May
Jonathan Montpetit: Why doesn’t the Quebec government seem bothered by mounting tension over its religious symbols bill?
The CAQ insists everything is fine as Quebec debates Bill 21, but evidence suggests otherwise

17 May
Quebec hurtling toward religious symbols ban, which critics say would not only be discriminatory, but a nightmare to enforce
(Globe & Mail) Bouchera Chelbi, a schoolteacher who wears a Muslim headscarf, sat in the ornate salon rouge of the National Assembly and spilled her heart out to the legislators before her. Quebec’s plan to restrict teachers’ right to wear religious symbols, she said, was going to hurt.
Ms. Chelbi’s comments were both pointed and remarkable: After six days of committee hearings into Quebec’s disputed legislation on religious symbols, she was the first and only teacher in a headscarf to address politicians about it.
The Coalition Avenir Québec government heard 36 speakers at its hearings on Bill 21, which would forbid police officers, prosecutors, schoolteachers and other public servants from wearing religious items on the job. But it largely left out the people who would be the law’s direct targets, such as Ms. Chelbi.
Ms. Chelbi would retain the right to keep her job while wearing her hijab. But new hires would not have the same right. And if Ms. Chelbi changed positions or moved to another school, she would have to remove the head covering to keep working.
Écoutons les intérêts de la communauté anglophone
Geoffrey Chambers, Président du Quebec Community Groups Network
(Le Devoir) Nous demandons au premier ministre d’engager le dialogue avec la communauté d’expression anglaise du Québec, vu qu’il s’est attribué les responsabilités de ce dossier au sein du cabinet. Nous lui demandons d’ordonner à ses ministres de haut rang, à commencer avec M. Roberge, d’entamer un dialogue constructif avec notre leadership communautaire. Nous lui demandons de restructurer et de repeupler son Secrétariat afin que ce dernier puisse fonctionner réellement en tant qu’avenue pour des conseils, pour une conscientisation de la population anglophone du Québec et une connexion avec elle.
Moins de 1 % de la fonction publique provient de notre communauté. Le système n’est pas au courant de nos intérêts. Ce problème peut être résolu. La communauté actuelle de langue anglaise s’engage à jouer un rôle positif et actif dans la société québécoise. Il est grand temps de nous inclure !

16 May
Quebec anglophone organization says province is ‘intruding on community rights’ (with video)
(Global) An organization which represents dozens of English community groups across Quebec is taking the government to task for infringing on anglophones’ minority rights, but that is not sitting well with one Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) MNA who is now firing back.
Christopher Skeete, head of the secretariat for anglophone relations, had some strong words Thursday for the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

14 May
Bill 21 won’t apply to us, Quebec’s English school boards say
QESBA cites Supreme Court ruling in arguing English boards exempt from proposed law
An organization representing all nine of Quebec’s English school boards says the province’s proposed ban on religious symbols can’t be imposed on them, potentially opening a new front in the legal resistance to the legislation.
Like some of their French counterparts, English schools boards have already made clear their opposition to a provision in Bill 21 that would bar public teachers and principals from wearing headgear such as the hijab, turban or kippa.
The English Montreal School Board has even stated it has no intention of enforcing the eventual law.

8 May
Quebec secularism legislation feeds intolerance, says co-author of report that inspired it
‘History is filled with examples where a majority abused its powers at the expense of its minority,” Gérard Bouchard said on the second day of hearings into Bill 21
The co-author of the 2008 report on reasonable accommodations says Quebec’s Bill 21 doesn’t make the province look like a “decent society” and will only feed an intolerance toward minorities, which has been festering for years.
And Gérard Bouchard said that before the majority decides to override the rights of its minority, it needs to have a good reason, some kind of “higher motivation” other than just wanting to get the debate over with fast — and the Coalition Avenir Québec government has yet to prove its case.
It has not even produced a scientific study proving a teacher wearing a hijab, for example, could indoctrinate, intimidate or traumatize a student into following a particular path, Bouchard said.
A day earlier, Charles Taylor, the other half of the Bouchard-Taylor team that drafted a report on reasonable accommodations, made his appearance, telling the committee he has changed his mind about its recommendation to bar a short list of authority figures — judges, police officers and prison guards — from wearing religious symbols.
He said just talking about the subject, then and now, stimulates hate and intolerance.
Bouchard still supports their original recommendations, saying he believes those restrictions would have stood up to a court challenge.
But Bill 21 goes too far and the very fact the CAQ government has decided to include the notwithstanding clause overriding fundamental rights is proof Bill 21 is not only radical, but it will stir radicalism, he said.

2 May
Sainte-Marthe is built on a lake bed. How did that happen?
This week’s flooding forces a rethink about Quebec’s storied connection to water
… since the dike burst Saturday — forcing thousands from their homes — there have been questions about a lack of government oversight and whether authorities should have acted more quickly in improving the structure.
The dike was inspected after the historic flooding two years ago, and plans were in place to repair it this fall.
But the disastrous breach has prompted broader concerns about how municipalities in the Montreal area have allowed their waterfronts to be developed.
Municipalities’ dependence on property tax revenues has driven the expansion onto their waterfronts.
“For them, the house with the nice view of the river brings a lot of taxes. And if they want to develop a new library or whatever plan they have, they need money,” said Pascale Biron, a professor of geography, planning and environment at Concordia University.
Biron said decisions about zoning and flooding mitigation measures should be made at the provincial level, taking into account the full impact of those decisions on the watershed.

26-27 April
Dike breach Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac forces hundreds to evacuate
1,795 evacuated across the province
Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said Saturday that her office is monitoring water levels across the province and that she’s particularly concerned about Rigaud and neighbouring Pointe-Fortune.
Across the province she said there are currently 3,050 flooded homes and 1,795​ people have been evacuated, as of Saturday morning.
Guilbault said the situation is under control in the Mauricie region, the Centre-du-Québec region, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches. The situation has also stabilized in the Beauce.
Montreal declares state of emergency due to flooding
Laval island residents urged to leave homes before waters rise further
The state of emergency gives the city the power to seize land, to make evacuations mandatory and to put in place other flood prevention measures.
It covers the City of Montreal and demerged municipalities on the island.
A lesson from New Jersey as Quebec tries to persuade people to leave flood zones for good
‘Definitely … no cap,’ says an official of Quebec’s plan to limit buyout compensation to $200K
On Monday, as he toured a flood zone in Gatineau, Premier François Legault said his government would offer a cumulative total of $100,000 per flood-damaged home for repairs. He also said the province is willing to buy out homeowners with property on flood plains, for up to $200,000. … “For some owners, this amount probably wouldn’t even pay off their mortgage,” concurs University of Waterloo Prof. Daniel Henstra, a specialist in flood management policies. “But I do suspect that others who have been flooded multiple times would probably jump at the opportunity.
What we know about the dam at risk of failing in western Quebec
Authorities in Quebec are keeping a close eye on a decommissioned hydroelectric dam on the Rouge River, a tributary of the Ottawa River west of Montreal, that’s at risk of failing.
The Bell Falls, or Chute-Bell, dam has reached “millennial” water levels, meaning there is a .1 per cent chance of such a flood occurring in a given year.

1-2 April
Cops could enforce Bill 21, minister says, then backtracks
Premier François Legault calls for calm after his public security minister says police can be called upon to enforce Quebec’s secularism law.
With his ministers saying the police or the courts will be responsible for applying Quebec’s secularism bill, Premier François Legault stayed vague — saying only that the government will take the necessary means for the law to be respected.
Following reports of possible acts of civil disobedience emerging following the tabling last week of Bill 21, Public Security MInister Geneviève Guilbault sparked a controversy Tuesday when she said police would ultimately be responsible for enforcing the legislation.
That means, in theory, they could be sent into a school board to force it to apply the law which states newly hired teachers cannot wear religious symbols.
Legault on religious symbols ban: ‘In Quebec, this how we live’ (video)
White supremacists are quoting the Quebec governments religious symbols ban, the government insists it’s not discriminatory.

28-30 March
Religious symbols: What you need to know about Quebec’s secularism law
Public employees including the minister of justice, attorney general, teachers, school principals and vice-principals, Crown prosecutors, judges, police officers, labour arbitrators and court clerks would be banned from wearing religious symbols at work.
Bill 21 will now be studied by a National Assembly committee before elected officials vote on it. The government hopes to have it adopted by the middle of June.
Employees currently working for the government would be allowed to continue wearing religious symbols as long as they are in the job they hold as of Thursday. If they change jobs within the public service, they would no longer be able to wear their religious symbols. That means someone who is a teacher now but becomes a school principal would lose the right to wear their religious symbol.
The bill invokes the notwithstanding clauses in the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights to override religious rights.
Religious symbols: Quebec ‘convinced we have found the right balance’
Big or small, the size of the symbol doesn’t matter because all symbols of all faiths are banned in the CAQ’s newly tabled secularism bill.
Amid accusations it is legalizing discrimination, the Legault government Thursday defended its new secularism bill as a balanced, human proposal that is entirely within its power to adopt as a province within the Canadian federation.
And the minister responsible for Bill 21, Simon Jolin-Barrette, said he expects groups threatening to not respect the legislation to conform to what will be the new law of the land.
With the overwhelming reaction to the bill negative — only hard-line nationalists praised the government for having the guts to do what others did not and override fundamental rights using the notwithstanding clause — Jolin-Barrette now embarks on a sales campaign.
Josh Freed: Secularism debate will probably divide Quebec for years
Premier Legault says he’s trying to protect our distinct values. But when did not letting people dress as they choose become a Quebec value?
McGill philosopher adds voice to chorus of criticism against Quebec’s secularism bill
Charles Taylor, a philosopher at McGill University in Montreal, joined his voice to a chorus of criticism against the proposed law, which would bar authority figures from wearing hijabs, skullcaps, turbans and other displays of faith.
While the legislation appears to have popular support, opposition is already fierce. Among those staking positions against it are Amnesty International, women’s groups, teachers’ unions, Muslim organizations, the mayor of Montreal, civil liberties associations and interfaith coalitions.
The Quebec government’s secularism bill stinks to high heaven
By Peter Stockland, senior writer at the think tank Cardus and the publisher of
Religious symbols: Groups denounce ‘legalization of discrimination’
“We are now facing the blatant legalization of discrimination against minorities,” the National Council of Muslim Canadians says.
Reaction to Premier François Legault’s secularism bill was swift, and largely negative.
Among those to denounce the law were Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, and groups representing women, religious minorities, teachers and school boards.

26 March
Public school teachers, principals to be banned from wearing religious symbols
Sources have told Radio-Canada the CAQ’s secularism bill will go further than initially expected
The bill is expected to be tabled on Thursday. In its current version, the regulations on religious clothing go well beyond the recommendations contained in the Bouchard-Taylor report on reasonable accommodation.
That report, based on a public inquiry held between 2007 and 2008, recommended preventing public officials who wield coercive power from wearing signs of their religious affiliation.
Taxi protests continue with drivers blocking traffic in Quebec City
The proposed law includes $500 million in compensation for drivers, earmarked to cover the losses taxi permit holders will incur under the proposed legislation.
Under the existing rules, all taxis must have a permit. The price fluctuates, but on average they cost between $100,000 and $150,000.
The new legislation would abolish the permits, making them worthless. The money earmarked by the government would compensate drivers for that loss.
But there are about 8,300 taxi permits in Quebec, and drivers say the half a billion dollars would not cover even half of their losses.

22 March
Spare a thought for the losers in Quebec’s budget, there are more than a few
CAQ is rewarding its supporters — suburban voters with young families, seniors — but others appear forgotten
By Jonathan Montpetit
There is a noticeable difference in approach in the two government budgets that were tabled this week in Ottawa and Quebec City.
The spending plan tabled Tuesday in Ottawa is the document of a government getting ready to seek another mandate. … The spending plan tabled Thursday in Quebec City, on the other hand, is the document of a government fresh off a crushing election victory. … This first budget reveals, it seems, a government interested less in currying favour than in rewarding its supporters.
… Another major social player conspicuously absent from the winners column in this budget are universities.
The bulk of the $230 million in new funding for the education system is earmarked for pre-kindergarten, elementary or high school classrooms.
Universities in Montreal or Quebec City may glean a few crumbs from that amount, but not much more.
Their near-absence from the budget is all the more puzzling given the concerns of business groups about lagging productivity in Quebec, not to mention Legault’s own promise to deliver more high-paying jobs.
Groups such as the Quebec’s main employers’ lobby group, the Conseil du Patronat, had called for investments in higher education in order to develop the kinds of highly skilled, mobile workers the economy will need to keep growing over the coming years.
But funding for post-secondary education remains relatively flat outside a few small-ticket allotments for niche initiatives in industries like artificial intelligence.

21 March
Highlights of Quebec’s 2019-20 budget
(Canadian Press via CTV) Balanced books for the fifth straight year in Quebec, with a forecast surplus of $2.5 billion on total revenue of $115.6 billion, including $24.9 billion in federal transfers. The surplus will go to a fund aimed at lowering the province’s debt.
Estimated gross debt of $200.8 billion as of March 31, 2019. That represents 46.1 per cent of gross domestic product, continuing a downward trend from a peak of 54.3 per cent five years ago.
Expected economic growth of 1.8 per cent in 2019 and 1.5 per cent in 2020, down from 2.3 per cent in 2018.
Increase in overall spending of 5.0 per cent, with health and social services (5.4 per cent) and education (5.1 per cent) accounting for most of the increase.
Additional funding of $280 million a year as of 2019-20 in home care for seniors.
A $1-billion spending envelope to support so-called strategic businesses and retain head offices in the province.
Quebec budget analysis: CAQ opens up the spending tap before economy slows
There’s more money all right, and they are spending it before the well runs dry.
Philip Authier
Everyone gets a piece of the pie with more money for a range of items including full-time kindergarten for four-year-olds, home care for seniors, library books and school outings and eyeglass subsidies for children under 17.
Initially cool to the idea, the CAQ actually increases — from $3 million to about $5.5 million a year — the budget for the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, a creature of the former Liberal government.
QCGN pleased with renewed support for English-­‐speaking Quebecers

20 March
Le PQ rétrogradé 3e parti d’opposition
Le départ de Catherine Fournier continue de faire mal au Parti québécois, qui est officiellement rétrogradé 3e parti d’opposition à l’Assemblée nationale, derrière les solidaires.
Le président de l’Assemblée nationale, François Paradis, a donné raison mercredi à Québec solidaire, qui réclamait un rebrassage des sièges au Parlement en raison de la décision de la députée de Marie-Victorin de siéger comme indépendan

22 February
Ruling next week on Quebec immigration lawyers’ request to stop trashing of 18,000 files
After hearing arguments on Friday, a Quebec Superior Court judge will rule next week whether to grant a court challenge against the provincial government’s plan to discard 18,000 backlogged immigration files.
An association of Quebec immigration lawyers is seeking an injunction against the plan, arguing it causes “serious and irreparable prejudice” for thousands of people who have already started building new lives in Quebec.
The plan is part of the Coalition Avenir Québec’s controversial immigration reform legislation, Bill 9.

For background see:
CAQ government takes a beating as immigration bill sparks chaos
Critics are lining up to say the government has not considered all the factors in its decisions, which appear rushed and poorly deployed.

Macpherson: The Legault government’s narrow, fragile electoral base exposed
The CAQ received a weak mandate. And new poll results suggest its vote was negative, circumstantial, and therefore probably temporary.
the results of the Ipsos poll suggest that not only was the Coalition’s electoral base narrow, it’s also fragile. The CAQ vote was negative, circumstantial, and therefore probably temporary.
This doesn’t bring into question the legitimacy of the Legault government, which was elected according to the constitutional rules, and has the support of 75 of the 125 members of the Assembly, a comfortable majority.
Nor does it mean that none of the CAQ’s policies have strong public support. Other poll results suggest that for one, its proposal to forbid female Muslim teachers from wearing the hijab is more popular than the Coalition itself.
But voters are fickle, they aren’t bound by their votes, and they change their minds easily. From its present height of popularity, the Legault government almost certainly has nowhere to go but down.

15 February
Anglo rights’ group pushes issues in meeting with Quebec Premier
A lot is at stake for the English-speaking community under the new government.
Quebec education minister reiterates ‘no room for interpretation’ about abolishing school boards
At the top of the list for many, is the future of school boards in the province.
QCGN wants to save them, but Legault plans to have them replaced.
“He made his case for why service centres might be better. We explained why that’s not how we see it,” Chambers said.
“We have two opposing points of view that are light years apart,” Christopher Skeete — the MNA who advises the premier on relations with the English community told reporters.

22 January
No plans to bring back English signs at Lachute hospital
The saga over the removal of English signage at a Lachute hospital is still not over. As Global’s Felicia Parrillo reports, the Quebec government is standing firm on the decision.
Christopher Skeete, the MNA responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, says the province will stand its ground when it comes to bilingual signage at a Lachute hospital.
“I think the premier was quite clear in his statements that we’re going to be supporting the decision that happened there,” said Skeete.
“But at the same token, we should never forget this has no incidence on services that are being rendered to the English-speaking population.”
Elected officials in the lower Laurentians are working on a temporary solution. They would like to see more English signs inside the hospital to compensate for the loss on the outside.
“We have six French mayors, three English and we were all in favour of finding a way to move forward and improve services so the people here understand that it’s not a local issue,” said Scott Pearce, mayor of the Township of Gore.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm