Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said larger-scale consultations on school board reform are unnecessary, as Bill 40 is the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government’s plan to replace school boards with so-called service centres.
After National Assembly public hearings in November, many groups, particularly English-speaking groups, called for the minister to conduct larger, provincewide consultations before going ahead with the reforms.
However, during a year-end sit-down interview with Global News, Roberge said the government has already consulted with anglophone communities, resulting in a “compromise” to allow English-speaking Quebecers to vote for the board members of the new school service centres.
“I had a lot of discussions with all the leaders of the English-speaking community, so I think we are ready to move forward,” he said.
“This is not really an issue for the francophones, to get rid of the election for the commissioners. Most of the francophones support us going that way, but we saw there is a difference between the francophone and the English-speaking community,” Roberge said.
Roberge denied that his relationship with anglophone Quebecers is strained.
“First, I think it’s a false impression to say or to think that the English-speaking community are maybe angry at the government,” he said.
“Some of the leaders, you know they show they’re strong, so they call out and they criticize our politics.”
Roberge said many anglophone parents, teachers and principals are in favour of CAQ investments in education and are curious about what the reforms will accomplish.
However, he said he is not surprised that school board commissioners openly criticize his government, claiming the school boards do not represent the majority of anglophones in Quebec.
“With the principals, with the teachers, with all the staff, we don’t have this animosity, these problems. Commissioners talk for commissioners, but they do not all the time represent the community as well as they say,” he said.