5 questions with François Legault
The leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec speaks with CBC's Mike Finnerty about abolishing school boards, the Quebec economy and Montreal's anglophone community.
During the debates you said the worst thing that could happen was a quick referendum that was lost. What did you mean?
If there was a third, "No," to a referendum, it would be bad for everybody.
Even people who would like to have a new deal with the rest of Canada… If Quebec were to lose a referendum, let’s see what would be the reaction of the rest of Canada. They’ll laugh.
When we’ll try to negotiate, for example, for more powers, we’ll not be in a good position because we still need to sign this constitution...
I don’t like the feeling I see in the rest of Canada right now.
People are fed up in the rest of Canada with paying us $8 billion a year in equalization payments. That’s why one of my objectives is [that]10 years from now ,Quebec pays equalization payments to the rest of Canada and then there will be a completely new dynamic in Canada.
You have brought up the notwithstanding clause with regards to medical students leaving the province, in other words, to get around the constitution. You also voted for Bill 78 and the Quebec Human Rights Commission says that violated the constitution. Would you be a macho premier?
Not at all. People knowing me, especially my wife, know it’s not my style.
But, come back to Bill 78. I think if there’s an important right in Quebec, it’s the right to study.
So why did we vote for Bil 78? Because it’s not acceptable that some students who wanted to study were not able to do so.
We even had some injunctions that were not respected. I think there's a difference between giving this right to all students and trying to put some oil on the fire like Mr. Charest did to get rid of the elephant in the room, which was corruption...
I can understand that maybe the part of the bill regarding protests, this part, was [debatable].
Do we have to give our agenda eight hours before? It’s questionable and we were against this part.
But in the balance, you have no choice but to vote for or against a bill and the part of the bill regarding the right to study was so important for us that we decided there were more advantages than disadvantages.
What’s wrong with Quebecers electing their own school boards?
I think that right now, first people don’t vote.
The participation rate is lower than 15 per cent on the English sector, seven per cent on French sector. The challenge we take is we should transfer the democracy from enormous school boards to schools.
Parents should be more present to elect their representatives on [school councils] and we should give more powers to them and the personnel of the schools.
That’s where the power should be. Not in the big school boards with commissioners who [don’t] always have the [expertise] to make decisions.
How valuable is the anglophone community to Montreal?
Very important. Many of them are in families that have been in Quebec since the foundation of our state.
Right now, we need them to participate to a project to get back our confidence, [to] become proud of being a Montrealer.
I know that English-speaking people, I’ve got friends in the English community, and when they go to Toronto, they are very proud of saying they are from Montreal.
They see us a different society, as a distinct society. All the major cities in North America, they try to find a way to be distinct.
We are already distinct because we are like a bit of France in North America.
So what we need right now is to put all the people together and make sure that we give the means to our children to be the leaders in the world. That’s what I want.