Update from CQSB on proposed Bill 14

burkes.jpg
Photo: Photo courtesy CQSB

Stephen Burke, Chairman, CQSB.

On April 24th, Madame Diane De Courcy, Minister responsible for the Charter of the French Language, in an effort to obtain the support of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) and thus ensure that Bill 14 would move on to its second reading, announced that the government of Québec would amend Bill 14 in such a manner as to preserve the exemption awarded to the children of francophone members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

This is extremely good news for all of our schools, students, parents, teachers and staff. Of course, the Minister did mention that she would reconsider the military exemption in a forthcoming legislation on bridging schools. On this issue, the Leader of the CAQ was clear that his party would not support any legislation that would consider the military exemption as being equivalent to a bridging school. In any case, the CQSB has never endorsed such schools and has no intention of doing so.

The second reading of Bill 14 is now in progress. The CAQ's ultimate endorsement of Bill 14 is now conditional to the government's agreement on a few more conditions. As for the Québec Liberal Party, they continue to be against the Bill in its entirety. In any case, it does seem that the military exemption will be preserved.

Although a final decision on Bill 14 will not likely be made before a few more weeks, I do believe that we can safely state that we are very close to attaining our objective which is to maintain the military exemption. On behalf of the Council of Commissioners, I would like to thank all of the parents, staff, members of the English-speaking community as well as many French-speaking citizens who took the time to sign the online petition as well as its paper equivalent - 11,000 signatures were deposited on March 28 before the National Assembly. Together, we respectfully fought a battle for our students, the very reason for our existence.

I like to believe that the Minister was open to the many arguments that we brought before the members of the Parliamentary Commission on March 20. I like to believe that good judgment and understanding prevailed over political ideology and that it shall continue to prevail. As such, I wish to publicly acknowledge in the Minister's decision her recognition of our reality and of the devastation that these sections of Bill 14 would have brought upon our school board.
For sure, we shall remain vigilant and continue to monitor the government's intentions regarding all language legislation, including the one forthcoming on bridging schools. But I do feel that we can begin to feel positive about this entire issue.

In closing, allow me to say a very special "Thank you" to the MNA for La Peltrie, Monsieur Éric Caire. You may recall that he attended both of our public meetings. At each one he explained the process that he and the CAQ would follow in the battle to preserve the military exemption. He has since never strayed from the course. Thank you, Mr. Caire!

Rest assured that we will keep you abreast of any further developments on this issue as well as any others affecting CQSB students. Thank you for your understanding and support.