Québec 2020-19 May 2021

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Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN)

The Notwithstanding Clause: its impacts, history and future
Join lawyers Marion Sandilands and Julius Grey as they discuss the use of the notwithstanding clause on a panel moderated by QCGN board member Matthew Harrington. (13 May 2021)

19 May
Andrew Coyne: Quebec’s anglophone minority is a target, once again – and no one is coming to the rescue
Trudeau’s comments on Constitution spark backlash among Quebec anglos
“This is a deeply troubling trend,” QCGN president Marlene Jennings tells federal Justice Minister David Lametti.
…the federal Justice Minister, David Lametti, insisted later that the federal government has not forgotten it has a role guarding the rights of Canadian minorities, including anglophones in Quebec.
Lametti was responding to concerns expressed Tuesday by Marlene Jennings, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network. On Tuesday Jennings abruptly cancelled her participation in a meeting between her staff and Lametti’s staff.
The meeting was to discuss the community’s concerns about the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s new language legislation, Bill 96, tabled last week.
But Trudeau’s remarks Tuesday — in which he agreed Quebec can rewrite certain sections of the Constitution to insert new provisions establishing the province as a nation and affirm that the only official language of Quebec is French — “surprised and disappointed” Jennings, a QCGN spokesperson said.
Jonathan Montpetit: Quebec’s proposed changes to Constitution seem small, but they could prompt historic makeover
Unintended consequences loom for Trudeau, O’Toole as they back demands
Quebec points to Section 45 of the 1982 Constitution Act, which says, in effect, that any province can simply pass a law in its legislature to alter its own constitution. (FYI, provinces have constitutions, too. We’ll get back to that in a moment.)
Straightforward, right? Except that constitutions are “like nesting dolls,” said Eric Adams, a constitutional law professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
“Provinces have their own written and unwritten constitutions, which form the basis of their own government and governing authority,” Adams said in an interview on Tuesday, shortly after Trudeau’s remarks.
“Those constitutions are also part of the larger structure of the Constitution of Canada.”
The Bloc Québécois, unsurprisingly, supports the amendment. And so does the New Democratic Party.
“If the Quebec government wants to make modifications to the Constitution to better protect the French language and the culture of Quebec, the federal government should work with the province to make it happen,” a spokesperson for federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement to CBC News.
Quebec can modify part of the Canadian Constitution unilaterally: Trudeau
Trudeau told reporters Tuesday the federal government’s initial analysis has concluded provinces can modify the part of the Constitution that applies specifically to them.
Trudeau says he’s concerned about protecting French in Quebec and in the rest of Canada, and that the Constitution will continue to protect linguistic minorities, particularly anglophones in Quebec.
[T]he Quebec Community Groups Network expressed concern through a spokesperson.
Former Liberal senator Joan Fraser, speaking as a member of the network’s board of directors, said the organization supports the protection, promotion and preservation of the French language and culture in Quebec, but view Bill 96 as veering into the suppression of English rights.

18 May
François Legault just set a constitutional trap for Justin Trudeau
(Globe & Mail editorial board) For Mr. Legault, adding the clauses is a symbolic political act that he says would “unite Quebeckers and increase their collective pride.” It would also secure his political fortunes for the foreseeable future.
As would having Ottawa or the rest of Canada try to block the move, or even question it. Mr. Legault wins if the amendment goes through; Mr. Legault wins if Ottawa opposes it. (On Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau – passing the buck and dodging political danger – said he believes Quebec has the power to pass the amendments unilaterally. The courts may have other ideas.)
This is not a fight over symbols; a textual change like this could carry real substance. The Constitution is the fundamental law of the land; every word matters. There is no guarantee that Mr. Legault’s proposed clauses won’t some day be interpreted by courts as having an effect on the minority language rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And that hits the whole country.
Tom Mulcair: François Legault’s nationalist ambitions
Even before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s astonishing statement Tuesday, it had already appeared Legault would face little opposition.

17 May
To protect the French language, non-francophones must be encouraged — not punished
As Quebec revises its language laws, multilingual households should be embraced
Free French training should be made available to all, especially in the workplace where most immigrants spend their time and make their first contact with Quebec society. But no one should be forced to attend a francophone institution in order to receive higher education.
Quebec’s Bill 96 aims to protect French language
(CBC The Current) Quebec Premier François Legault wants to change Canada’s Constitution to better protect the French language, a move that could affect everything from immigration and education to policies outside the province’s borders. Matt Galloway discusses the new legislation with host of Radio-Canada’s Midi-Info and longtime political journalist Michel C Auger; the CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton; and president of the Quebec Community Groups Network and former federal Liberal MP Marlene Jennings.
NB: Marlene Jennings: “French itself is not well taught in the schools … and study after study has shown that some 50 percent of Francophone Quebecers are illiterate or functionally illiterate in French. That’s where the government should be spending its money and developing policies to improve, 1) staying in school and 2) learning a quality French”.
Full Episode Transcript

15 May
Legault pens letter to Trudeau about Bill 101 reforms, stressing need to protect French language
In a bold move, the province is also seeking to amend the Canadian Constitution, adding clauses saying Quebec is a nation and that its official and common language is French.

13 May
Proposed Bill 101 Overhaul Disregards Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms
The Quebec Community Groups Network deeply regrets that proposed changes to the Charter of the French Language override fundamental human rights and will erode the vitality of our English-speaking minority community.
QCGN is taken aback that the government of Premier François Legault is proposing to unilaterally amend the Canadian Constitution to recognize the linguistic specificity of the Quebec nation. “That’s a constitutional curveball we certainly were not expecting,” said Jennings.“This is a fundamental shift in the Canada/Quebec relationship and one we believe is unconstitutional,”she added.“This is a closed-in, narrow vison of a Quebec that is increasingly distancing itself from the rest of Canada.”
“Stricter regulations for commercial signs and the imposition of the notwithstanding clause to supersede the rights and freedoms of Quebecers represents a huge stepbackward that will create unnecessary conflict and division.”
Quebec seeks to change Canadian Constitution, make sweeping changes to language laws with new bill
The bill, called Bill 96, includes the following proposed measures:
Adding clauses to the Canadian Constitution, saying Quebec is a nation and that its official and common language is French.
Applying Bill 101 to businesses with 25-49 employees and federal workplaces.
Forcing all commercial signage that includes non-French-language trademarks to include a “predominant” amount of French on all sign.
Capping the number of students in English CEGEPs at 17.5 per cent of the student population.
Giving access to French language training for those who aren’t obligated by law to go to school in French.
Removing a municipality’s bilingual status if census data shows that English is the first language for less than 50 per cent of its population, unless the municipality decides to maintain its status by passing a resolution to keep it.
Creating a French Language Ministry and the position of French-language commissioner, as well as bolstering the role of the French-language watchdog, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).
Provincially appointed judges will not be required to be bilingual.
Requiring that all provincial communication with immigrants is in French, starting six months after they arrive in Quebec.

7 May
Quebec businesses, other entities to be banned from getting English communications from province
Two decades after a provincial language law was passed, a certain provision that has been “shelved” all that time will come into force next year, the province announced Thursday.
All Quebec companies and government bodies will be hearing from the province only in French, at least in written communications.
That includes all municipalities and other governments in Quebec, as well as school boards and health and social services establishments.

30 April
Robert Libman: It’s time to speak up, diplomatically, but with passion
Those who step up can expect to take some lumps, but it’s clear Quebec Liberals won’t defend anglo concerns; it’s up to the community
Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade recently unveiled her party’s own “robust” linguistic policy, proposing some of the same measures the CAQ have been discussing. The Quebec Liberals would extend the rules of Bill 101 to federally chartered companies, such as banks. They would also extend the francization rules to include smaller businesses with 25 to 49 employees, something that even Legault has expressed reservations about in the past. And this week, when goaded by Legault to say whether she would accept the use of the notwithstanding clause to restrict the language of signs, Anglade refused to rule it out.
Despite their superficial acknowledgment that the English-speaking community “has rights that must be protected,” the Liberals will most likely vote in favour of the CAQ amendments to Bill 101. They know that their political future depends on attracting soft nationalist support and that they can shamelessly continue to take the anglophone vote for granted. The anglophone community will have to fend for itself.
It’s time for the community to gird up and affirm itself, diplomatically, but with passion. When francophone media commentators line up behind the new legislation, it will be essential for our community to speak out and fight fire with rhetorical fire, making the case in French-language media, in parliamentary hearings and any other forum we can create. 

Legault says he’s ready to reopen debate on language of signs in Quebec
“I think we need to use the notwithstanding clause, at least for signs,” the premier said regarding reforms to the Charter of the French Language.
Last week Legault said there was a “good chance” Quebec would use the clause to shield upcoming reforms to the Charter of the French Language from court challenges. It used the clause to do the same thing with Bill 21, on state secularism.
Such a move would reignite a debate on the language of signs, which has been largely dormant for years with the exception of corporate trademarks.

23 April
Le plan du PLQ prévoit une équipe dédiée au centre-ville de Montréal
Ils veulent par ailleurs « mobiliser » les établissements d’enseignement supérieur et encourager les collèges à offrir des cours en français, et pas seulement ceux de français langue seconde. On voudrait que les collèges offrent au moins trois cours en français dans chaque programme de formation.
En milieu de travail, les libéraux réclament que la Charte de la langue française s’applique aux entreprises de compétence fédérale – une position déjà connue. On veut également « accompagner » les entreprises de 25 à 49 employés dans leur francisation avec une « approche allégée et adaptée aux dispositions de la Charte de la langue française ».

22 April
Use of Notwithstanding Clause Would Run Roughshod Over Rights of English-speaking Quebecers
The Quebec Community Groups Network is alarmed that Premier François Legault foreshadowed that the Quebec government may invoke the notwithstanding clause to limit the linguistic rights of English-speaking Quebecers
The notwithstanding clause cannot be invoked to override the rights in the Constitution Act of 1867, for example the right to use French and English in Quebec’s National Assembly and the courts.Nor can it be used to set aside constitutional language rights contained in Sections 16-23 of the Canadian Charter, for example minority language education rights and the official bilingualism of Canadian institutions.
In their rush to protect the French language, past and present Quebec governments have shown an unfortunate tendency to trample on the rights of English-speaking Quebecers. The notwithstanding clause is a blunt instrument that should not be used to ride roughshod over our rights and freedoms.
‘Good chance’ Quebec will use notwithstanding clause to shield Bill 101
Premier François Legault said he would have no qualms about using the clause to protect coming language legislation.
Quebec likely to use notwithstanding clause again for new language law, despite concerns by court
A Quebec Superior Court judge recently criticized the Legault government’s use of the clause in the province’s religious symbols law, also known as Bill 21, which bans public employees such as teachers, police officers and prosecutors from wearing religious symbols at work.

21 April
Quebec will appeal Bill 21 court ruling exempting school boards
“I think we cannot divide Quebec in two. We need one Quebec, with one set of common values,” Premier François Legault says.
Tom Mulcair: Federal leaders should step up against Bill 21
The pusillanimity of all federal party leaders in dealing with the issue of discrimination against religious minorities has been shameful.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should order his attorney general to play an active role in defending minority religious rights in Canada. He sure talks about rights enough. To expedite matters, the prime minister can still refer the matter directly to the Supreme Court. After this thorough review in Quebec Superior Court, that’s exactly what he should do.loser to home, despite her apology, Trudeau’s former caucus colleague Marlene Jennings has put herself in a vulnerable position when it comes to defending the rights of the English-speaking community of Quebec.
Much to its credit, prior to Jennings’s arrival as president, the Quebec Community Groups Network hired Julius Grey to intervene in the case.
Quebec Superior Court upholds religious symbols ban, but English-language schools exempt
(CBC) Quebec’s secularism law violates the basic rights of religious minorities in the province, but those violations are permissible because of the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause, a Superior Court judge ruled on Tuesday.
But the ruling by Justice Marc-André Blanchard also declared that the most contentious parts of the law — the religious symbols ban for many government employees — can’t be applied to English schools.
The desire of English school boards to foster diversity by choosing who they hire is protected by the minority-language education rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Blanchard said in his decision.
Not long after the decision was handed down, Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, the architect of the law, said the province plans to appeal.
… Blanchard said the government respected the rules for invoking the clause. He made it clear, though, that the law trampled on minority rights by restricting what they can wear in the workplace, such as a hijab.
“The court highlights the evidence [that] undoubtedly shows that the effects of Law 21 will be felt negatively above all by Muslim women,” the decision reads.
Tuesday’s decision marks the first time a court has issued an opinion on the law’s constitutionality. It is, however, highly unlikely to settle the matter.
Most legal experts expect the issue will eventually be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said the judgment “sets us up well for an appeal,” given that it acknowledges the harm the law causes.
Background:
Historic case in the making as Quebec’s religious symbols ban heads to court
How lawyers are trying to overturn Quebec’s religious symbols ban

16-17 April
PQ leader defends his policy shift in favour of applying Bill 101 to CEGEPs
The opposition Parti Québécois has been kicking around the idea of extending the Charter of the French Language to the English CEGEP system for years. It will vote again on the idea Sunday.
The leader of the Parti Québécois is defending his decision to reverse course and say he now agrees the Charter of French Language should apply to the English CEGEP system, which would mean francophones and allophones could not attend.
The issue of applying Bill 101 to the English CEGEP system has been kicked around the party for years. The PQ never went down this path while in power.
Former leader Jean-François Lisée personally opposed the idea. Critics say it is a bad idea because it takes away a higher education option of adult francophones and new arrivals. Immigrants are obliged to attend elementary and high schools in French under the charter rules.
How do you protect the French language while respecting the rights of English-speakers in Quebec?
Liberal MNA Gregory Kelley joins Global’s Laura Casella to share his perspective. (video)
La loi 101 au cégep? Une fausse bonne idée!
Bernard Tremblay, Président-directeur général de la Fédération des cégeps
(Le Devoir) … l’ensemble des cégeps, y compris les cégeps anglophones, souhaitent exprimer leur volonté ferme de contribuer à l’effort collectif pour assurer la vitalité du français au Québec.
Rappelons d’ailleurs que les collèges anglophones contribuent pleinement à la société québécoise et jouent un rôle important dans l’acquisition de compétences langagières en français au sein des communautés d’expression anglaise. Ils participent à l’accessibilité à l’enseignement supérieur, à la vitalité de ces communautés, mais aussi à l’édification d’une culture du dialogue. Rappelons également que les cégeps figurent parmi les pierres angulaires de la francisation des personnes immigrantes dans les régions du Québec et favorisent leur intégration citoyenne, en français, à la société québécoise. Le réseau collégial ne fait assurément pas partie des menaces au rayonnement de la culture québécoise et à la vitalité de la langue officielle du Québec !

14 April
QCGN: A crucial court challenge for our communities and our schools!
Lawyers for the Quebec English School Boards Association(QESBA) began a challenge against Bill 40, the controversial legislation which would see elected school boards eliminated and turned into government controlled service centres.
English schools are ‘heart of the community,’ court hears as Bill 40 challenge begins
Central Quebec School Board chairperson Stephen Burke spoke Wednesday in Quebec Superior Court of being “a defender of the English communities that are in predominantly French areas.”
Justice Sylvain Lussier is scheduled to hear arguments on the CAQ government’s legislation to abolish all school boards well into next week. The Quebec English School Boards Association — which represents nine English school boards — opposes Bill 40, which would see all boards be switched to so-called service centres. Among the boards represented by QESBA are the Lester B. Pearson and English Montreal school boards. Quebec will appeal ruling giving English school boards reprieve
“We think Bill 40 is well founded and that we are allowed to change the school boards into service centres,” Premier François Legault said Thursday. (13 August 2020)
Faced with enrolment crunch, English CEGEPs are pushing aside thriving high school students
(CBC) Vanier and Dawson College are juggling a surge in applications and having a smaller number of available spots, and as a result, high school students who would normally be shoo-ins are having to wait longer before knowing if they’ve been accepted.
Some are even being told they didn’t make the cut.
Thorin Malaka, a 17-year-old in his final year at Laurier Macdonald High School in Montreal’s Saint-Leonard neighbourhood, was put on a waiting list for Dawson’s health science program. He has a 92 average.
Applications at Vanier are up seven per cent compared to last year. The increase in candidates for the school’s science programs is an eye-popping 36 per cent. At Dawson, overall applications are up 16 per cent, and the number of people vying for a spot in the school’s science program is up 27 per cent.
Making things even more difficult for prospective students, both schools have between 200 and 250 fewer available spots for the 2021-2022 school year.

13 April
Liberals promise vigilance on French language but offer some ideas, too
It is possible to protect French and have English-speaking Quebecers feel comfortable in their home province at the same time, says the Liberal critic Greg Kelley. It’s all a matter of approach.
Gregory Kelley, the Liberal opposition critic for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, said he knows the community will feel targeted and insecure about its future when the Coalition Avenir Québec government gets around to tabling promised reforms to the Charter of the French Language.
… Kelley made the remarks as Jolin-Barrette prepares to present reforms to the charter. The new legislation has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic but is still scheduled to emerge before the session wraps June 11.

8 April
Marlene Jennings apologizes for backing premier in school spat
“EMSB was right and I was wrong. I apologize unreservedly to EMSB. Full stop.”
Jennings touched off a controversy Tuesday when, in a tweet, she expressed support for Legault after he took a swipe at the EMSB for its refusal to comply with his government’s initial order to send all high school students back to class full time.
Though the government decided to rescind the order, Legault sounded irritated during his news conference and questioned whether the EMSB was qualified to make decisions about the matter.

1 April
Marlene Jennings: Canada’s official language minorities should have same rights
English-speaking Quebecers, and indeed all Canadians, should be wary of the consequences of the measures that are being considered.
(Special to Montreal Gazette) In September’s speech from the throne, the federal government declared that “the defence of the rights of francophones outside Quebec, and the defence of the rights of the English minority within Quebec, is a priority for the government.”
The government’s recent policy paper, English and French: Towards a Substantive Equality of Official Languages in Canada, contradicts that commitment and represents a substantial shift in the treatment of official languages. Despite reassurances from Official Languages Minister Mélanie Joly, the government has put forward specific proposals that would provide rights to work and receive services in French — but not provide the equivalent in English.

15 March
Quebec, Ottawa invest $100M to build electric vehicle battery plant
The investment will take the form of a loan to Lion Electric, a Saint-Jérôme-based company that makes electric trucks and school buses. Roughly $30 million will be forgivable if the company meets certain conditions, including keeping jobs in Quebec.
Lion Electric plans to use the funding to build a new $185-million factory in Saint-Jérôme, north of Montreal, where it will assemble battery packs for its vehicles. That would allow it to cut unit costs and potentially capitalize on the growing market for greener transportation options.
The company said it expects to employ 135 people at the plant when it is operational by 2023. It also plans to invest in a research and development facility that could create a number of spinoff jobs.

14 March
New official languages plan aims to end the decline of French in Canada
By François Larocque, Research Chair in Language Rights, Université d’Ottawa
(The Conversation) The federal government recently unveiled an ambitious new official languages plan to modernize the 51-year-old Official Languages Act.
Many changes are sensible and timely, such as requiring a periodic review of the Official Languages Act every 10 years and enhancing the Official language commissioner’s enforcement powers.
One of the most ambitious proposals, and perhaps also the trickiest to implement, is the plan to extend the act to federally regulated private businesses (such as banks, transportation and telecommunication companies) that operate in Québec and in regions with a strong francophone presence. The goal is to protect French outside the public sector and normalize its use as a language of work and service in a wider range of contexts.
In Québec and other francophone areas, federally regulated employers and businesses would be obligated to communicate with workers and consumers in their chosen official language. New language rights would be enacted on the recommendation of a “committee of experts” who will advise the government on possible legal remedies and on the geographic scope of the new plan.

24 February
Discussion paper on official languages an awkward approach to a defining issue
For many Anglo Quebecers, this document will be seen as a betrayal of the federal government’s historic commitment to protect their services and institutions.
Andrew Caddell addresses the Trudeau government’s discussion paper on official languages, “Towards a Substantive Equality of Official Languages in Canada,” and he is not happy … “a shameful sacrifice on the altar of political expediency.” For non-subscribers to the Hill Times, the full text is posted on Andrew’s Facebook page.

12 February
Anglo institutions are in Quebec nationalists’ crosshairs, but there are new twists to this old tale
A communication breakdown with the government has some Anglos worried about what new Bill 101 will look like.
(CBC) Marlene Jennings, head of the QCGN, said she hasn’t been able to sit down with anyone from the government to discuss the impending changes to Bill 101…. while there is a political consensus around the need to update the language charter, the government is being egged on to go as far as possible by the conservative nationalists employed by the Quebecor media chain.
Last month, one Journal de Montreal columnist described the increased use of English in the city as the “other epidemic threatening Quebec.” Another pundit at the paper has been urging the premier to stop speaking English at news conferences.
Earlier this week, the Parti Québécois tabled a motion calling on the government to yank the funding for Dawson’s new building.
The CAQ refused to let the motion be debated, let alone come to a vote. But if Dawson escaped unscathed, there are worries within the anglophone community that other institutions might not be so lucky.

16 January
Trois mois chez les complotistes québécois
Notre bureau d’enquête a infiltré le mouvement conspirationniste et antimasque
Jean Balthazard
(Journal de Montréal) Inspirés par leur pendant américain, les complotistes d’ici ont réussi à récolter une petite fortune tout en propageant des idées farfelues, voire dangereuses, depuis le début de la pandémie de COVID-19. C’est ce qu’a pu constater notre Bureau d’enquête pendant une immersion de trois mois dans leurs rangs.
Le port du masque, «c’est vraiment une tactique [des autorités] pour détruire notre système immunitaire parce que ton CO2 ne sort pas normalement, tu le ravales».
Stephen Harper et Justin Trudeau sont impliqués dans le trafic d’enfants.
Quelles sont les meilleures façons de détruire une tour 5G ?

5 January
With COVID-19 cases soaring, Quebec government considers imposing curfew
The province is considering keeping schools closed for an extra week, while also shutting down non-essential activities in the manufacturing and construction sectors, sources tell Radio-Canada.
The province is also mulling the idea of imposing a curfew, a recommendation made by Quebec Public Health, according to Radio-Canada. If imposed, it would be Quebec’s first curfew since the start of the pandemic. … According to Radio-Canada, [new measures] will include at least three more weeks of lockdown, mandatory working from home for anyone in a position to do so, and one or two weeks of online learning before students return to in-person classes.

2020

18 December
Macpherson: In politics, Quebec non-francophones don’t count
It’s electoral mathematics. There are simply many more francos than non-francos, controlling many more seats in Parliament and the Assembly.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week his Liberal government will amend the Official Languages Act to protect the right to work in French in Quebec businesses under federal jurisdiction.
This could mean the end of equal protection for the language rights of anglos and francos in federal jurisdiction.
In Quebec, Premier François Legault has promised nothing less than a complete “new Bill 101” to “make the Québécois even more proud of being Québécois” — perhaps at the expense of English-language services and institutions.
His language minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette, has said he wants to deny public services in English to everyone, even anglos, who don’t belong to the “historic” English-speaking community. The premier himself, after rejecting a proposal to restrict admission to English-language colleges, has mused about reducing their funding instead.
… Three years ago, during the great bonjour-hi “crisis,” I wrote that I had discovered the secret of happiness for Quebanglos: just ignore the politics. I’ve decided it’s time for me to take my own advice, but that’s pretty hard when you have to write about Quebec politics every week. So, after 35 years, this is my last regular column for the Montreal Gazette.

17 December
Nurse practitioners bring big savings to long-term care facilities in Quebec
Study finds nurse practitioners helped reduce costs by up to $3.2 million in six long-term care facilities
(McGill) Nurse practitioner roles were introduced in the United States and some provinces in Canada in the 1960s. However, their history is fairly recent in Quebec, due to differences in regulatory laws in the province. Up until early 2019, the diagnosis of a health condition needed to be made by a physician. Those laws are now under revision.
In 2015, Quebec implemented nurse practitioner roles in six long-term care facilities as a pilot project. Nurse practitioners are trained at the graduate level with a specialty certificate in primary care. Working in partnership with physicians and an interprofessional team, they assess residents’ condition, adjust medications, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and provide ongoing chronic illness care.

20 November
Brownstein: Legault’s COVID holiday gift a disaster waiting to happen
We should be doing what we’ve been told to do up until now from Dec. 24-27: limit all social contacts.
It’s totally understandable how those of faiths other than Christianity may be miffed and feeling shortchanged about Premier François Legault’s planned COVID-19 holiday gift wherein citizens will be permitted to congregate in groups of 10 — but only over the Christmas period between Dec. 24 and 27.
This is a disaster waiting to happen. We should be doing what we’ve been told to do up until now: limit all social contacts.
Nice thought to be giving our woebegone, shut-in populace a break, but the plan has not been fully thought out.
It’s the business of the “moral contract” that is most baffling and potentially most troubling. The idea that young and old alike will go into a sort of quarantine for a week before Dec. 24 and a week after Dec. 27 is a pipe dream.
Many will be shopping for gifts and grocery provisions in the week leading up to Dec. 24 and will be flooding stores for Boxing Day and deals in the week after. Kids on school breaks will be out and about, and parents will be at their wit’s end trying to corral them.

6 November
Marlene Jennings is the new president of the Quebec Community Groups Network
A year after members of the Quebec Community Groups Network resigned citing issues with the network’s leadership, the organization has elected Marlene Jennings as its new president.
The network held its annual general meeting Thursday evening, highlighting some of its priorities for the year.
Those include defending the existence of school boards, as well as anglophones’ right to health and social services in English, according to QCGN director general Sylvia Martin-Laforge.

11 September
Chantal Hébert:Erin O’Toole is looking for support in Quebec. Here’s why the Liberals hope he finds it
Voters will get a glimpse at how incoming federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole fares on a tightrope when he holds his introductory meeting with Quebec premier François Legault on Monday.
In Quebec as opposed to Ontario and Atlantic Canada the Conservative battle is not mainly a duel with Trudeau’s Liberals but rather a bare-knuckle fight with the Bloc Québécois.
Both opposition parties court the same francophone voters, almost always in the process splitting the opposition vote to the benefit of the Liberals.
That’s why so far polls that show an uptick in Conservative fortunes in Quebec since O’Toole’s leadership victory inspire more relief than concern in the province’s Liberal circles

26 August
Quebec forges ahead with controversial school reopening plan despite parent anxieties
(Globe & Mail) Although Quebec was Canada’s COVID-19 epicentre, with more cases and deaths than any other province, it is moving more aggressively than anywhere in the country to get primary and secondary education back to normal.
With many of Montreal’s French-language public schools reopening on Thursday, parents, students, teachers and administrators are grappling with the risks and trade-offs of Quebec’s insistence on in-person learning.
Premier François Legault’s government has staked its bold policy on a belief that physical schooling is more effective and can be done safely, based in part on a partial reopening this spring when the province only saw a few dozen cases of infections in schools.
Critics say this approach is too callous about the health risks of COVID-19 and tramples on the rights of parents. Prominent Montreal lawyer Julius Grey filed a legal challenge last week on behalf of parents who want the option of enrolling their kids in online learning courses without a doctor’s note.

12 June
Opposition parties unite to delay adoption of Quebec’s economic stimulus package until fall
Parliamentary session adjourned Friday with Bill 61 still on backburner
The National Assembly adjourned Friday afternoon until Sept. 15, with a united opposition still refusing to pass Bill 61 — the stimulus package that would have fast-tracked more than 200 construction and infrastructure projects.
Opposition parties took particular issue with measures in the bill that would allow the government to bypass some of the normal rules for major infrastructure projects. Among other things, the bill had provisions for accelerated environmental reviews, the awarding of contracts without tender and the fast-tracking of government expropriation of property.

7 June
At huge anti-racism demonstrations in Quebec, premier called out for downplaying problem
In Montreal, Sherbrooke and Quebec City, demonstrations took place demanding action on systemic racism
The rebuke to Premier François Legault’s claims that there is no systemic racism in Quebec came in the form of a massive demonstration in Montreal on Sunday, where thousands of black people joined with other minorities to demand an immediate end to police harassment and other forms of discrimination.
Sizeable protests were held Sunday in other cities across the province as well, with crowds gathering outside the National Assembly in Quebec City, and in Sherbrooke. Organizers of an anti-racism demonstration in Rimouski, Que., said they attracted 1,000 people.
As anti-racism demonstrations have swept across the United States, Legault was asked repeatedly last week whether he believed systemic racism was also a problem in Quebec.
He replied that while a small number of Quebecers were racist, there was “no system in place that discriminates.”
Several provincial Liberal MNAs joined party leader Dominique Anglade at the protest. Anglade is the first black person to lead a major political party in the province.

19 May
New Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade looks to post-COVID Quebec
Philip Authier
(Montreal Gazette) At 46, she is the first female leader in the 150-year history of the Liberals — Quebec’s oldest party — and its first leader from a visible minority.
On Wednesday, during a one-day sitting of the legislature, Anglade for the first time assumed the big chair of the official opposition leader directly across the floor from Premier François Legault.
She got right down to business, deftly congratulating the government for its initial response to the COVID-19 emergency but criticizing its more recent performance and the crisis in the CHSLDs.

12 May
Opinion: It’s too soon to reopen schools, especially in Montreal
By Eight chairs of English school boards
Quebec’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic began well under the strong guidance of Premier François Legault who, assisted by health authorities and ministers, carefully accompanied Quebec citizens along a path of unprecedented anxiety regarding their health and the resulting measures to control the outbreak. The return to a “new normal” is proving to be infinitely more complex and has serious implications for education and the economy.
We are deeply troubled by the shifting criteria for the safe return of elementary students and the completion of studies for secondary students. Of particular concern is the level of COVID-19 cases in Montreal and possible serious illnesses in children. This is exacerbated by the sudden announcements last week of the change to the vulnerability age for staff from 60 to 70, followed by a directive that all high school students must complete their academic requirements online by the end of June. These announcements have raised public expectations to unreasonable levels.
… In a more conciliatory fashion, our demand is for a delay of school openings, especially in Montreal, until risk management is openly discussed and managed collaboratively with our school board administrators. If such co-ordination is the case for the public-health boards, then why not for public education? The minister of education has had six weeks to consult and collaboratively develop a workable plan. This was not done and has spawned a series of hastily issued centralized decisions without consultation, creating confusion within the system. In turn, this has served to further increase anxiety for parents, staff and students, eroding public confidence in the government.

4 May
English schools want flexibility about when to reopen, but Quebec government says no
‘The minister of education is not the boss of the council of commissioners,’ QESBA says
(CBC) Premier Francois Legault’s government says English school boards in the province do not have the power to delay opening their elementary schools, despite concerns that resources won’t be in place to ensure the safe return of students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government’s position sets up a potential clash with the Quebec English School Boards Association, which maintains individual school boards can decide how many schools will open on the two dates set by Minister Jean-François Roberge for the resumption of classes — May 11 for schools in Quebec’s regions and May 19 for schools in the greater Montreal area.
The association says it can’t guarantee that transportation or teaching staff will be organized by those dates, nor is it clear enough parents will be willing to send their students back into the classroom, said Noel Burke, the association vice-president.
English schools boards, however, are not alone in seeking more flexibility from the Education Ministry.
A province-wide group of school administrators — the Fédération Québécoise des Directions d’établissement d’enseignement — also said it had asked Roberge to allow elementary schools some leeway when determining if they’re ready to open.
Pressure mounting for Legault to delay return to school (1 May)

28 April
Quebec’s move to reopen schools sows confusion, fear among parents
Elementary schools will open again next month, but not everyone plans to send their kids
For weeks, parents in Quebec have been told to keep their kids close to home, off the playground and away from their friends.
Now, they find themselves adjusting to the idea of sending their children back to school in May.
The province’s decision to open elementary schools and daycares next month has left parents filled with questions, and divided on whether to send their kids back.
Starting May 11, parents living outside of the greater Montreal area will be able to send their children back to elementary school and daycare. Elementary schools and daycares in the Montreal area are set to open the following week.

13 April
Quebec wants to ready businesses for ‘new world’ of protectionism that will follow pandemic
(CBC) The current plan is to gradually begin reopening the economy early next month.
But as the provincial government gets ready to make good on its promise to business owners, it is realizing they will be confronting a radically different global marketplace.
[Quebec’s economy minister, Pierre] Fitzgibbon, is expecting that not only will consumer behaviour change, so, too, will the behaviour of governments around the world. “There is going to be a geopolitical environment of increased protectionism,” he said.
In that context, Quebec needs to rethink how it secures stable access to the goods and services needed to keep its economy, and society, running smoothly, he said.
“Because depending on international markets will be less desirable, it will be very important for us to target what we want to protect in terms of supply chains.”

10 March
Quebec government tries to go green in new budget, pushing public transit and electric cars
But environmentalists question level of commitment, with bulk of money not allotted until 2nd mandate
(CBC) Flush with cash, the Quebec government will pour more money into health care and education this year, while trying to convince Quebecers it is serious about reducing greenhouse gases.
Valérie Plante, who has made fighting climate change key to her own mandate, said she was “pleased to witness an important shift” toward public transit. But she also said she was disappointed that the government did not commit to build any new social housing in the city as its vacancy rate hits a 15-year low.
Despite the focus on the environment, the biggest spending areas in the provincial budget remain health care and education.
Caregivers get a break
Much of the new health-care money is going toward improving primary care services. But it also includes a commitment to add 900 beds to long-term care facilities, and $450 million over five years to hire more staff in the province’s beleaguered youth protection system.

10 March
To anglos, CAQ government’s deeds speak louder than its words
Recent consultation process was positive to the extent that it opened a dialogue, but immediate tangible steps, not just words, are required.
Geoffrey Chambers & Gerald Cutting, Special to Montreal Gazette
For decades, chronic neglect of our community has sapped its vitality. This has robbed us of many of our young people. It now impairs our longer-term viability. The Quebec Community Groups Network reiterates that immediate tangible steps, not just words, are required.
We finally have virtual unanimity: access to training in French-language skills should be freely provided to any Quebecer. [Christopher Skeete, parliamentary assistant to Legault for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers] said he is receptive to the community’s request for enhanced access to French lessons for English-speaking Quebecers. Let’s do it.
Development of promised Access Programs across Quebec’s Health and Social Services network has for years been held back by bureaucratic inertia and inflexibility. These programs are essential for English-speaking Quebecers to exercise our legal right to receive full health and social services in our own language. The governing legislation must be broadened to encompass critical components now exempted — including ambulance transport, new family physician clinics known as GMFs, and other forms of care delivered outside the public network.

Our community remains woefully underrepresented in Quebec’s civil service.

7 March
Quebec Community Groups Network calls out government consultations – with video
(CTV) The secretariat has been holding consultations with English-speaking communities for the past six months, but the QCGN says the talks didn’t go far enough.
The QCGN described the talks as mostly a cosmetic exercise, and are particularly unhappy about the province’s religious symbols ban (Bill 21) and the bill abolishing school boards (Bill 40).
“The consultations did not address the fundamental issues that the community is worried about,” said QCGN’s Sylvia Martin LaForge. “While the community worries about underfunding and underrepresentation, the broader issues over the loss of our institutions, the loss of our representation, are fundamental and the consultations did not address that.”
CAQ parliamentary secretary for English-speaking Quebecers Christopher Skeete said the QCGN is mixing up two issues.
“There’s the reality of being an English-speaking Quebecer every day, and there’s whether or not, as a citizen, I agree with this position from the government or that position from the government,” said Skeete. “On any given day, we can analyze how people feel being an English-speaking Quebecer which was the mandate of the consultation versus whether or not some people in the English-speaking community agree with whether or not we should be removing school board elections. I think you have to really separate the individual file from the overall experience of being an English-speaking Quebecer.”
Not exactly the international exposure we need!
A Quebec Ban on Religious Symbols Upends Lives and Careers
(NYT) A Muslim lawyer who wears a head scarf has put aside her aspiration to become a public prosecutor.
A Sikh teacher with a turban moved about 2,800 miles from Quebec to Vancouver, calling herself a “refugee in her own country.”
And an Orthodox Jewish teacher who wears a head kerchief is worried that she could be blocked from a promotion.
Since the Quebec government in June banned schoolteachers,  police officers, prosecutors and other public sector employees from wearing religious symbols while at work, people like these three women have been grappling with the consequences. … the law has prompted vocal protests and legal challenges, as well as condemnation by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Critics say it flouts freedom of religion, breaches constitutional protections and excludes minorities who choose to wear symbols of faith from vital professions. They also say implementing the law will be fraught because it can be hard to discern a religious symbol from a fashion accessory or nonreligious garb.
The English Montreal School Board said the law was forcing it to turn away qualified teachers. It said at least one teacher had removed her head scarf while at work to keep her job.

28 February
Coalition eyes court action, says Bill 40 violates francophone rights
Citizens’ group claims “unequal treatment” in school-board reform vis-à-vis anglophones.
A citizens’ coalition has joined the growing chorus protesting against the Quebec government’s education reform, announcing Friday it’s launching a fundraising campaign to challenge Bill 40 in court.
The group told a news conference that the Coalition Avenir Québec’s move to force Bill 40 through the National Assembly — and immediately fire elected French-language school board commissioners — deprived commissioners of the right to defend themselves legally, and that it is up to citizens and taxpayers to take up the challenge.
“We lost rights that we consider fundamental: the right to elect the people who will administer our school administrations, and who will be held accountable to the whole population,” said Marc St-Pierre, a former teacher and school board administrator with 40 years experience.

20 February
Quebec’s immigration numbers drop while rest of Canada is on the rise
Included in the reductions were workers from specialized fields like nursing, computer engineering and computer programming — positions the province is struggling to fill in the midst of a labour shortage.
Quebec Premier François Legault fulfilled his promise to cut the number of immigrants to the province by 20 per cent in 2019, in stark contrast to the rest of Canada.
The analysis shows a significant drop in the number of immigrants with degrees in specialized professions that the province is struggling to fill. In 2018, Quebec admitted 2,120 registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses. In 2019, that figure dropped to 1,440, a decrease of 32 per cent.
Unionized nurses in Quebec have been fighting forced overtime and have organized strikes to protest being forced to work long hours, and are calling for more nurses in order to ease the pressure.
Similar reductions were seen in 2019 in the number of information systems analysts and consultants (36 per cent), computer engineers (not including software engineers and designers; 33 per cent), computer programmers and interactive media developers (45 per cent), electrical and electronics engineers (41 per cent), university professors and lecturers (17 per cent) and civil engineers (28 per cent).
English-speaking Community Challenges the Constitutionality of Bill 40
(QCGN) APPELE-Québec announced today that representatives of Quebec’s English-speaking community will be launching a court challenge to Bill 40; An Act to amend mainly the Education Act with regard to school organization and governance. The Alliance for the Promotion of Public English-language Education in Quebec (APPELE-Québec) brings together 16 groups representing parents, educators and the community.
Quebec government follows advice of populist columnist, boots philosopher from public forum
When the Quebec government decided earlier this year to reform the mandatory religious and ethics education course taught in the province’s schools, it invited Daniel Weinstock — a prominent philosopher at McGill University — to take part in public meetings on the issue.
But that invitation was promptly withdrawn Wednesday after the Journal de Montréal, the largest newspaper in Quebec by circulation, published a column that incorrectly accused Weinstock of advocating a form of circumcision for young girls.
Even though Weinstock’s opposition to such practices is well-documented — he reiterated his position in a Facebook post Wednesday — Quebec’s education minister said he was standing by his decision to withdraw the invitation.

17 February
Bombardier to shrink by half with announced sale of rail unit to France’s Alstom
(Globe & Mail) After decades of building one of the world’s largest aerospace and train businesses, Montreal’s Bombardier Inc. will shrink by half after formally announcing the sale of its rail division to France’s Alstom SA.
The wholesale retreat from building everything from high-speed trains in China to streetcars for Toronto means that Bombardier will exist only as a maker of private business jets. But Bombardier Transportation (BT), as the train division is known, isn’t giving up all of its Canadian roots: The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), which owns 32.5 per cent of BT, has agreed to become a significant shareholder in the enlarged Alstom.
Bombardier unloaded the last of its once-vast commercial aircraft business earlier this month, with an agreement to sell its remaining interest in the Airbus A220 passenger jet – the aerospace project once known as the C Series that nearly bankrupted the company – to Airbus.
Bombardier bets Learjets are the new Ski-Doos
Going forward, Bombardier will be a business jet maker with an industry-leading US$14.4-billion backlog of orders. The company will introduce new products, in the form of larger planes with greater range. Mr. Bellemare will expand a servicing business that kicks off dependable cash flow by keeping a fleet of more than 4,800 existing Bombardier jets in the air.
Alstom, on the other hand, will shoulder responsibility for fixing a trains business that has been plagued by cost overruns and missed deadlines in recent years. The headaches that come with dealing with a Bombardier factory in Thunder Bay that laid off 550 employees in November – half its work force – are now a Paris-based CEO’s problem.

8 February
Bill 40 passes 60-35 despite fury over last-minute amendments
Vote at 3:20 a.m. follows news school board commissioners to be fired three weeks sooner than originally announced.
(Montreal Gazette) Playing hardball to the bitter end, an unyielding Education Minister Jean-François Roberge infuriated MNAs Friday when he announced the government intends to fire hundreds of school board commissioners three weeks sooner than originally announced.
As the final legislature debate over Bill 40 abolishing Quebec’s 60 francophone and nine anglophone school boards dragged late into the night under the cloud of closure, Roberge tabled a surprise last-minute amendment to the bill moving up the date commissioners will be extinct.
Instead of the previously announced date of Feb. 29, Roberge’s amendment means commissioners are out the door as soon as the bill gets royal sanction, sometime Saturday morning.
The one exception to the measure will be commissioners in the English network who will continue to be allowed to work in their existing roles until Nov. 1 as planned, Roberge said in response to a question from Liberal MNA Jennifer Maccarone.
…the MNAs representing opposition parties for the final adoption stage were furious, lashing out at Roberge and accusing him of showing a lack of empathy for commissioners who have served on school boards for years.
… the incident capped a tumultuous day as the CAQ government acted on a threat issued last week and invoked closure — a parliamentary procedure that limits debate so a bill can be fast-tracked into law — on Bill 40.
With a blizzard roaring, MNAs were huddled inside the legislature for an examination — in a single day — of the 312-article bill that amends 80 pieces of legislation and shakes up both the francophone and anglophone education systems.
It not only replaces school boards with service centres, it also abolishes elections in the francophone system. Elections can still take place in the anglophone system.
Friday is the fourth time in eight months the CAQ government invoked closure. It used the procedure in June 2019 on Bill 9 reforming the immigration system and Bill 21 on state secularism. The third occasion was in December 2019 on Bill 34 on hydro rates.

22 January
Quebec’s proposed electoral reforms would give regions more power
Hearings begin for CAQ’s plan to introduce proportional representation at National Assembly
(CBC) Under the proposed reforms, the Outaouais, Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec regions would each get an additional seat in the National Assembly, while the island of Montreal would lose three, going from 27 to 24 seats.
There would still be 125 MNAs in the legislature. Of them, 80 would represent ridings, elected by majority vote. The remaining 40 MNAs would be chosen from regional lists. Voters would have to cast two ballots.
Hearings into the CAQ’s proposed legislation, Bill 39, began Wednesday in Quebec City.
Bill 39 also requires voters to approve the plan in a referendum likely to coincide with the next provincial election, set for 2022.

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