Letter to the editor 2, April 30, 2015
I attended the Lester B. Pearson School Board Executive Committee Meeting held on April 20, 2015. I was the ‘public.’
First: The Executive Committee decided not to send two commissioners to Saskatoon, Sask., to attend, in July, the Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA) ‘Congress.’ That’s good. However, let’s recall, a few members of the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA), which includes commissioners from the LBPSB, have just returned from Nashville, Tennessee, where the National School Boards Association Conference was held. Each commissioner cost the taxpayer about $2,500 for the two-day event.
Coming up is the QESBA Spring Conference, in late May, in Quebec City. If all Pearson commissioners go, the cost would be about $13,200 for the weekend. Let’s not forget, as always for any get-together, there are QESBA representatives as well - more tax money.
Second: There have been interesting developments on the democracy front. It’s been 18 months since I have not been allowed to speak at Council meetings.
On March 30, out of the blue, I received an email from the LBPSB lawyer saying he was “authorized by the Lester B. Pearson School Board,” to offer me a meeting with him, “to discuss an arrangement with regards to my participation during the public question periods.”
Of course, I said ‘yes’ and we met March 31 for about 1.5 hours.
The meeting was cordial but at the outset the point was made I would have to sign a conditional agreement in order to participate at LBPSB Public Question Periods, something I have been doing since Day 1 in 1998-99. This objective would involve other meetings. Naturally, I said “no.”
Past experience told me the document would contain conditions. One of those conditions would be that I could not talk about outside groups, including the QESBA and School Tax Committee. Chairperson Suanne Stein Day is a paid member of both those organizations.
To recap: I am prepared to follow the same rules as any other taxpayer at Public Question Period time, according to Article 168 of the Quebec Education Act.
In any case, I will not accept Madame Stein Day’s arbitrary actions to limit, or restrict citizens’ legal and democratic rights.
September 2016 cannot come soon enough. That’s the time Education Minister François Blais will present a reform of school board governance, that will abolish elected positions.