Letter to the editor 4, Nov. 19, 2020
Anglophone school board elections and my uphill battle for LBPSB chair
On Friday, November 6, we learned the government decided the Anglophone community would go to the polls December 19 and 20 to vote for some commissioners and chairpersons who were not acclaimed on November 1, 2020.
By Monday morning, press releases were flying by Anglo groups: APPELE-Québec led by Geoffrey Kelley, Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA, led by Russell Copeman), and the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).
They complained bitterly about the decision to hold the elections which had been postponed twice already: November 4, 2018 and November 1, 2020.
They claimed holding these elections during a pandemic is not conducive to school board democracy as very few people will show up – and besides, it's a few days before Christmas. They said the timing was a form of ‘voter suppression’ among other things.
Now, let's reel back to a major reason the election of November 1, 2020 was postponed indefinitely.
On October 6, 2020, APPELE-Québec and the spokesperson of the QCGN wrote the following on the former's Facebook page:
“It is time for the Quebec government to delay school board elections. It is not safe for Quebecers to go to the polls – which are often held in elementary and high schools that our children will be frequenting the next day.” Fair point.
There will be no children in schools for at least two weeks after the election on December 20 because of the traditional holiday season.
The government had no choice but to pick the earliest possible safe date because there are chairperson seats to fill as well. This is very significant because under the present set up (not Bill 40) the chair has considerable influence.
For example, my platform calls for dropping membership to the QESBA, which claims it is fighting for minority-language educational rights by opposing the government's school board reform Bill 40.
My opponent is Judy Kelley who, incidentally, was appointed vice chair of the LBPSB at the November 9, 2020 Council meeting. Since she is directly connected to the aforementioned groups and the Liberal Party, her platform is obviously to maintain the status quo. Boy, do I have an uphill battle.
QESBA is challenging Bill 40 in the courts, using hundreds of thousands of precious education dollars. The bill, like Liberal Bill 86, has absolutely nothing to do with language – it is a governance issue. It gives English schools greater decision-making powers, which will be made in English.
The QESBA bases their argument on the Mahé decision made in the courts in Alberta in 1990.
This is Quebec 2020! Time to get with it! Bring on the elections!