Anglophones question Quebec Liberal leader on issues
English speakers through Quebec had the opportunity to ask Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) Leader Dominique Anglade asks questions during a public meeting type online discussion on August 23.
The Quebec Community Group Network, which represents Anglophone organizations across the province, organizes the sessions during the election campaign with as many party leaders as will attend. The August 23 session was moderated by Royal Orr, a broadcaster and longtime English-speaking rights advocate.
Born and raised in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce to Haitian parents, Anglade said she has always held a strong belief in minority rights.
“When we talk about the future of Quebec and we talk about what we want, we have to talk about values,” Anglade said.
Liberal Leader Accused Coalition Future Quebec (CAQ) Chief Francois Legault to try to divide Quebec through changes to immigration regulations, education administration, and the use of notwithstanding clauses in laws his government has enacted over the past four years while he was prime minister. Anglade said Legault tried to divide Anglophones, Francophones, immigrants, urban and rural Quebecers.
“The Liberal Party is stronger because we represent everyone,” Anglade said.
On August 23, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed an agreement that could eventually lead to the use of wind power to produce hydrogen in western Newfoundland which would then be exported to Germany. Anglade said she wanted Quebec was part of a similar initiative. She said that the PLQ has a vision of equality and ecology and the fight against climate change by using hydroelectric energy, solar energy, wind energy and hydrogen produced from renewable energies. .
“We should be the ones leading the way in terms of transition and fighting climate change,” Anglade said.
A question submitted to the moderator alleged that the Liberals were not aggressive enough to oppose language and immigration legislation enacted by the CAQ government.
“We voted against these bills,” Anglade replied.
She accused the government of continually changing plans and making it harder to track bill details.
“Every day they were making it harder and harder,” she commented.
Anglade was asked why the Liberals are keeping parts of Bill 96, which is now law and strengthens QuebecCharter of the French language.
“There are elements that we want to keep,” Anglade said. For example, she gave free French lessons to all residents of Quebec.
She said the Liberals would get rid of the education, justice and health parts of Bill 96. She said a Liberal government would also dampen the aggressiveness of French language office (OLF) in the application of language laws, as this has a negative impact on small and medium-sized businesses.
Anglade said if elected, the Liberals would remove the notwithstanding clause from Bill 21, the law that prohibits the wearing of overt religious symbols by public sector personnel. She said it would be up to the court system to decide the fate of the law.
“We want to make sure the courts decide how to proceed going forward,” Anglade said.
When asked if she believed English-speaking children of English-speaking immigrants should be allowed to attend an English-language school, Anglade defended the status quo.
“It would go against Bill 101 (the Charter of the French language). We of the Liberal Party of Quebec we support Bill 101, but we don’t support Bill 96,” she said.
Anglade said that the Liberal Party recognizes French as the common language of Quebecbut Law 96 went too far.
However, Anglade said there should be no cap on enrollment in English-language CEGEPs, the post-secondary university-preparatory college system. She said funding for Anglophone CEGEPs should be adequate and access ensured for Anglophone students.
Anglade again used an accusation familiar from the months before the election campaign and accused the Legault government of not focusing on the shortage of doctors in Quebec. She said a Liberal government would increase the number of seats in the province’s medical schools by 1,000 and recognize more medical degrees from institutions outside the province. Anglade said the number of nurse practitioners in Quebec would drop from 1,000 to 3,000 under a Liberal administration.
While discussing long-term care, Anglade said, “Most older people live at home and most older people want to stay home.”
The Liberals are proposing to give every person aged Quebec a special payment of $2,000 per year to help with the costs of living at home.
Anglade said the party wants to support organizations and cooperatives offering home care services as an alternative to the CHSLD network of long-term care residences. She acknowledged that there is a shortage of human resources in long-term care. She said incentives to encourage people who have retired from the long-term care sector to return to work and increase immigration to meet needs.
As for mental health services, Anglade said there should be universal access to psychotherapy.
In response to questions about the continued vitality of English-speaking communities in Quebec, Anglade said the CAQ ignored the Anglophone Affairs Secretariat created by the previous Liberal government. When asked if there was discrimination against English speakers in the Quebec civil service, Anglade said he wants better representation of the population as a whole in the civil service. She said there is systemic discrimination in Quebec but did not specify whether it exists in the civil service.
Anglade described the vitality of the Anglophone community as a liberal value.