“The level of bilingualism in the room of the PQ congress is astounding,” he insisted.
During the PQ convention at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal last weekend, the party elected an anglophone to their party executive: former associate English professor Jennifer Drouin, who is also the president of Anglophones for Quebec Independence.
Lisée used Drouin’s election as an example to prove “the acceptance that we speak English and we want to reach out; the anglophone vote is now a given in the Parti Québécois.”
At the convention, the party adopted a controversial motion to decrease funding to English CEGEPs if elected.
Yet, Lisée argued the new platform is not an attack on the English-speaking community.
The party will also stop allophones who have not gone to primary or secondary school in French from enrolling in English CEGEPs.
Lisée said the motion would allow students to study for one or two semesters in a CEGEP of the other language — a move he says will promote bilingualism in Quebec.
“This can be a win-win for anglophones and francophones,” he said.
Francophone students wanting to take advantage of the opportunity have to demonstrate “sufficient mastery of French.”
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Likewise, if the PQ is elected, anglophone students will have to pass a French language exam in order to get their diplomas.
READ MORE: PQ calls for tougher Quebec language laws
The most controversial aspect calls for funding of English CEGEPs to be in line proportionally with the historic English demographic — that means a funding cut.
“The French CEGEPs were not successful at providing good English education,” Lisée explained.
“What we’re saying is we want to have, in this student marketplace, francophone CEGEPs more in the game with a good English track — including one session in an English CEGEP. And we think, may the best network win.”
By equipping French CEGEPs to provide better English instruction, Lisée said there will be an increase in enrollment in French CEGEPs and the money will follow the students.
Lisée said anglophone support is important for him heading into the 2018 election.
“The number of anglos that are progressives, that are environmentalists, is huge and we are their party,” he said.
During the convention, party membership also voted in favour of Lisée’s plan to put off talk of a referendum until 2022.
“If you want to have a clean, green government in the next four years, the Parti Québécois is your best bet,” he said.
“I’m sure it’s going to sway a number of anglos. A majority? No, but a number of anglos.”