|EMSB TOUTED AS “AGENTS OF FRANCIZATION” IN PRODUCTIVE MEETING WITH QUEBEC LIBERAL PARTY|
EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini, Vice-Chairman Sylvia Lo Bianco and Commissioner Patricia Lattanzio, a special advisor to the chairman on government relations, focused their attention on the proposed new language legislation set out in Bill 14 and budget cuts to the public education system. Representing the Liberals were the leader of the official opposition and MNA for St. Laurent Jean-Marc Fournier; LaFontaine MNA and critic for the charter of the French language, Marc Tanguay; and Mille-Îles NBA and critic for elementary and secondary education, Francine Charbonneau. Mr. Fournier is a former Quebec Minister of Education while Ms. Charbonneau spent 15 years as a school commissioner in Laval, latterly as chairman.
Mr. Fournier reiterated that the Liberals will vote against Bill 14. Recognizing the efforts made by the EMSB in particular to promote the French language, notably via the recent launch he attended for the entirely French NousSommesBilingues.ca website, he remarked: “You should not be looked upon as representatives from an anglophone school board, but rather as agents of Francization for the province. The fact that anglophones have decided to live in French is something to celebrate.”
Ms. Mancini noted that despite a meeting with the Parti-Québecois Minister Responsible for the anglophone community, Jean-François Lisée, in which he spoke about a willingness to work with English school boards, the signs from his party in Bill 14 represent the contrary. Furthermore, the EMSB has a history with Language Minister Diane De Courcy when she was the chairman of the Commission scolaire de Montréal. “I might come from the English community, but I speak French in my every day life and so do most of our students who graduate bilingual,” said Ms. Lattanzio. “ With regard to the French Charter, I believe that the proposed amendments are an assiduous efforton the part of the PQ government to discriminate against both the anglophones and francophones.”
Mr. Tanguay recognized that the very fact the success of the anglophone community in terms of bilingualism seems to be a threat to the PQ. “We feel as if we are being treated like second class citizens,” said Ms. Lo Bianco.
Ms. Mancini presented the MNAs with information packages outlining the EMSB’s strong academic standing and a high graduation rate of 84 percent.
As for the discussion about budgetary compressions, Ms. Mancini said that the EMSB is being affected in many ways. “For one thing our enrolment is dropping,” she said. “As the Quebec government continues to cut the budgets of school boards, we are in a no win position. They tell us not to cut from the schools, but they are not leaving us much choice. In order to protect services to students I would have to consider adopting a deficit budget.”
Ms. Mancini said she was pleased with how this meeting went. “It was definitely reassuring to hear their comments and the acknowledgement of the contribution we make to Quebec society,” she said, noting that the meeting took place completely in French.
Last month the EMSB met with Quebec Liberal MNAs Filomena Rotiroti, (Jeanne-Mance–Viger) and Lawrence Bergman (D'Arcy-McGee), as well as the chief of staff for Lise Thériault (Anjou–Louis-Riel), Martin Lapointe.
The EMSB wishes to meet again with Mr. Liseé while attempts continue to be made to sit down with Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) leader François Legault, whose position on Bill 14 is still unclear.
Michael J. Cohen