The Parti Québécois (PQ) has adopted a controversial motion to decrease funding to English CEGEPs at a party convention in Montreal Sunday morning.
The proposal will likely be part of the PQ platform going into next year’s election.
During extensive debate at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal, party hardliners pushed to extend Bill 101 to CEGEPs, which would bar francophones and allophones from enrolling if they did not go to elementary and high school in English.
The proposal received criticism from some party members.
“I have the impression our goal is to empty the English schools,” said one delegate who added he did not want to see the Parti Québécois attack the English community or English education.
Leader Jean-François Lisée has said on several occasions that he has no plans to change Bill 101, but hinted that he might be willing to accept a proposal to decrease funding to English CEGEPs.
READ MORE: What is Bill 101?
Saturday, PQ members who took the most extreme position on language backed down from their proposals to extend Bill 101 to CEGEPs.
Instead, they put forward a motion to align funding of English CEGEPs with the percentage of Quebec’s historic anglophone population.
The proposal is open to a certain amount of interpretation, but there was no beating around the bush about the fact that the goal was to gradually decrease the amount of funding to English CEGEPs and to deter francophones and allophones from attending.
“He can live with that amendment,” said Marc Laviolette, PQ Beauharnois riding president, who supported the motion, referring to so Lisée. “It’s a compromise.”
During his speech Friday night, Lisée said he planned to force English CEGEP students to pass a French language exam in order to get their diplomas. He also wants to improve English classes in French CEGEPs in order to retain anglophone and allophone students already enrolled.
Lisée proved that he has convinced the party hardliners to trust him, receiving almost 93 per cent support in Saturday’s confidence vote, but he has yet to prove he is able to convince English-speaking voters to do the same, despite reassurances.
“There’s one thing for certain, with the Parti Québécois, the Anglo vote will never be taken for granted,” Lisée said on Friday night.
The PQ also voted with a strong majority in favour of a proposal to decrease funding to private schools and another proposal to demand religious neutrality of government employees.
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