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Quebec may soon welcome an anglophone affairs minister

WATCH ABOVE: The Quebec Community Groups Network are meeting with Premier Philippe Couillard to speak about the needs and priorities of Quebec's English-speaking community. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports.

There may soon be an anglophone affairs minister at Quebec’s National Assembly.

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) met with Premier Philippe Couillard last week to discuss the possibility of having a minister dedicated to serving the more than 1 million anglophones living in the province.

“We want to take advantage of this period of openness to start a dialogue and structure it so that when the fashion changes, the dialogue mechanisms will be in place and the channels will be properly established,” said Geoffrey Chambers, QCGN vice-president.

READ MORE: Courting the English vote: PQ, CAQ insist they’re the best choice in Quebec

If assigned, the anglophone affairs minister would be in charge of staying in contact with the QCGN, a non-profit group made up of 51 English community organizations, as well as those in the English-speaking community.

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“[This] is the case in the rest of country with official language minorities, so it wouldn’t be a wildly unprecedented step,” said Chambers.

“But it will be very pleasing to us for them to do that.”

READ MORE: ‘In Quebec, we speak French,’ CAQ proposes mandatory language classes for immigrants

For now, Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley and Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil will assume the position of English community representatives.

“[They are] pretty senior members of cabinet and people we know well and friends of the community who will now be able to sit at cabinet table without being out of place and say ‘I want this issue to be dealt with,'” said Chambers.

READ MORE: Community Groups Network meets with Quebec premier

Recently, opposition parties have accused the Quebec Liberals of taking anglophones for granted.

“They’re dismayed by the incompetence of the Liberal government,” said Parti Québécois (PQ) leader Jean-François Lisée.

“They don’t like the aura of corruption. They see they’re not good for the economy. They see they are just inept.”

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The QCGN said it’s not the first time parties like the PQ and the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) have courted the English vote.

READ MORE: CAQ courts English vote, says it is ‘nationalist’ alternative to Liberals

“We’re very pleased that the opposition parties are noticing – the fact that it exists, the fact that it’s got valid interests that should be addressed,” said Chambers.

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“We want to see all of the National Assembly understand and recognize that the community exists and accept that measure have to be taken in order to provide it with services and make sure it’s treated in a respectful and fair way.”

“I think they have a responsibility in a governmental context to say and do the right things, which they haven’t always done int he past.”

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Chambers said he hopes a formal ministerial position will soon be assigned.

READ MORE: Lisée called out for wanting English CEGEPS to cater to anglophones first

“We will press [Couillard] to make that decision public quickly,” he said.

Moving forward, the QCGN is expecting to have regular meetings with the Quebec government.

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca