Letter to the editor 3, Nov. 19, 2020
Full transparency, I am the currently acclaimed commissioner from Ward 11 of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, about half of the off-island territory, so I have no personal ‘skin in the game’ so to speak regarding the coming school board elections. When I recently found out the school board elections, which had been postponed at the beginning of November due to the risk of COVID-19, had been rescheduled for December 20 I, like many others, was incredulous. I had to recheck to see if this could be possibly true. Earlier that day I had heard our premier on the radio imploring people to alter their plans for Christmas and not gather together for family celebrations to diminish the chances of COVID-19 transmission. Yet here was his government calling an election five days before Christmas asking constituents to place their health, safety, and security in peril in order to carry out their sacred right to vote. Furthermore, the only people eligible to vote by mail were residents of CHLSDs, COVID-19 patients, people waiting for the results of COVID tests, or people quarantined due to foreign travel.
Where is the emergency? All the current wards are represented either by newly acclaimed commissioners or by the current commissioners who have agreed to remain on the job until the next election. This is also true of the chair who will not be running again but has graciously offered to remain until the next election. Everyone presumed this would occur either when the COVID-19 threat had subsided substantially or when a decision in the court case concerning Bill 40 had been resolved. Evidently not.
This is simply a naked attempt at voter suppression. The CAQ government wants to argue that school board elections are irrelevant since very few people vote, and they are stacking the deck to ensure this happens. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind some fierce snowstorms on election day either.
There are two possible routes to take. The first is to write an avalanche of mail to our local MNA, Marilyne.Picard.SOUL@assnat.qc.ca, cc’d to the premier and Education Minister Jean-François Roberge. The second is, when unfortunately this has no effect, to turn out en masse for the vote despite the circumstances. Early voting takes place December 13 and 19 so people can space themselves out.
School boards are the last institution in Quebec controlled by the Anglophone community. The Francophone community has already lost their school boards and the CAQ’s aim is squarely on our backs. I strongly urge the voters to first let our MNAs understand the depth of our disappointment and frustration with this incredible decision and then to vote in such large numbers that no one can question the result.
Commissioner, Ward 11,