QUEBEC CITY – “My family, people close to me, we’ve all heard about it.”
It’s an election promise and something close to the Quebec premier’s heart. Bullying is a plague, said Philippe Couillard, that despite laws that have been passed, still poisons thousands of Quebecers, from children to the elderly.
“We don’t solve a problem like this only by laws and regulations.”
“You solve it by showing it’s a priority,” he said.
“I’m the chief of the government of Quebec and I’m telling the population that this is an utmost priority for me.”
In 2012, the previous Liberal government forced school boards to implement anti-bullying and anti-violence plans, where rules of conduct and safety measures had to be explained to students at a civics session each year.
However, the media kept getting wind of more bullying cases, often ones that involved teens resorting to drastic measures to make it stop.
Jasmin Roy, an openly gay television personality, said he believes more work needs to be done.
“People want to find solutions against bullying and violence, so what they need now is to be supported,” said the founder and president of the Jasmin Roy Foundation, a charity that works to fight bullying.
The premier is investing $200,000 towards a forum on bullying, scheduled for October 2 in Quebec City, launching online consultations for anyone with something to say on the issue and mandating his team to consult with youth centres.
Opposition parties said they’re on board and compared the collaboration to the non-partisan Dying with Dignity consultations.
“I hope that we will be able to apply concrete measures after this forum, within six months,” said Coalition Avenir Quebec house leader François Bonnardel.
Although Premier Couillard didn’t promise millions towards this initiative, he did promise the fight against bullying would start at the top. He admonished one of his MNAs for bullying Quebec Solidaire’s Manon Massé in the hallways at the National Assembly.
© 2014 Shaw Media