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Letter to the editor 5, Oct. 22, 2020

APPELE-Québec is a con job

Dear Editor,

The Journal's logo is ‘Democratically serving the public interest.’

As a candidate for LBPSB chair, I would also like to serve the ‘public interest’ by responding to the October 15 letter of Geoffrey Kelley - Chair of APPELE-Québec.

He wrote that I accused him of ‘hypocrisy.’ That's true. I wrote that in my October 8 letter but now, following his letter, allow me to add 'disingenuous.' Consider his comments on Bill 86 (2016) and the hearings on Bill 40 at the Court of Appeal (2020).

Mr. Kelley wrote, “Mr. Eustace is not a fan of school boards,” and neither was the Liberal party (Bill 86) nor the CAQ with its present Bill 40. The former voted in by 1.7 million voters, the latter 1.5 million - and I supported both of them. Let's review.

Bill 86:

Former Premier Philippe Couillard was very clear, at the time, when he said, “The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) has neither the political support nor the legal legitimacy to represent the English-speaking citizens of Quebec.”(Le Devoir, Sept 16, 2015, «Les commissions c'est bel et bien terminé. »)

MNA David Birnbaum, who was QESBA's executive officer for ten years, was equally comprehensible. Here is an excerpt from his Opinion piece in the December 16, 2015, Montreal Gazette, titled: "Bill 86's school board reforms are no threat to the Anglophone community."

He wrote, "Let’s be clear: English-speaking Quebecers will retain the constitutional right to exercise control and management over the public schools that serve them."

Meanwhile, regarding draft Bill 86, Mr. Kelley now writes, “I was a member of the Cabinet and of the Liberal caucus. I took an oath not to reveal the nature of those discussions.” Huh?

Court of Appeal:

Mr. Kelley writes, “Mr. Eustace does not appear to be concerned about the defence of minority rights as regards to Bill 40.” I do care about minority language educational rights.

This is evident by my Mémoires submitted to the National Assembly, many letters to the editors and most recently my appearances and briefs submitted to Quebec's Superior Court and Court of Appeal. All dealing with minority rights.

However, my most memorable battle regarding educational rights is based on page 1, Division 1, Chapter 1 of the Education Act: "STUDENTS' RIGHTS."

Simply put, the law says whenever a new program starts, students must be supplied free textbooks. However, the front-page headline of the Montreal Gazette on March 11, 2008, screamed, “English textbooks don't exist.”

This was a direct result of the negligence of the QESBA and English-speaking MNAS who ignored the reported pleas of the teachers of PCHS, a school piloting curriculum reform.

How ironic that two of those MNAS are presently heading the QESBA (Russell Copeman) and APPELE-Québec (Geoff Kelley).

Lastly, Mr. Kelley uses an excerpt of the decision rendered by the Court of Appeal to boost his argument of the value of school boards. He neglected to give a complete quote. He used an ellipsis (...) which replaced words, “at first glance, at least.” The words were used three times in the decision. Leaving those words out is somewhat disingenuous.

In my brief on Bill 40 to the National Assembly on November 11, 2019, I referred to APPELE-Québec as a “bit of a con job.” I said the same thing, in my talk to the Superior Court, on June 26, 2020, and at a press conference at the courthouse after the Court of Appeal decision was rendered on September 20, 2020.

The Journal published an instructive letter on February 6, 2020, which also serves the public interest: “APPELE-QUÉBEC is no real friend of the Anglo community.” It is a con job.

Chris Eustace

Pierrefonds

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