English school boards hope Education Minister Pierre Moreau ices Bill 86

School boards and teachers' unions are welcoming former municipal affairs minister Pierre Moreau's appointment to the education portfolio as a chance, in one labour group's view, to "get it right this time."

Former municipal affairs minister replaces Blais in education post in move seen as chance to correct mistakes

Pierre Moreau takes over the challenging education portfolio as a result of Thursday's cabinet shuffle. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

School boards and teachers' unions are welcoming former municipal affairs minister Pierre Moreau's appointment to the education portfolio as a chance to correct the mistakes of Moreau's predecessor, François Blais.

Blais became Minister of Labour and Social Solidarity in Thursday's cabinet shuffle.

"Moreau comes to us with the reputation of someone who listens, someone who tries to get all the information and thinks about the kinds of decisions he has to make," said Marcus Tabachnick, executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA), which represents the province's nine anglophone boards.

"We're hoping that he brings that attitude. Our biggest problem over the past year has been a lack of communication with the education minister," he said.

Tabachnick said he hopes Moreau will put on hold Bill 86, the proposed legislation to abolish school board elections.

François Blais didn't listen to teachers' concerns, FAE says

The Fédération autonome de l'enseignement,  Montreal's largest teachers' group, had similar complaints about Moreau's predecessors.

"We think that he can hardly do worse than Mr. Blais and Mr. [Yves] Bolduc before him," said Nathalie Morel, the FAE's vice-president of professional issues.

Most of FAE's members teach in the greater Montreal region and face challenges such as student poverty and large numbers of students who don't speak French as a first language.

"We're French-speaking teachers... and that poses some obstacles that Mr. Blais and Mr. Bolduc did not take that into account," Morel said.

She said the last two ministers were out of touch with what teachers were facing in their classrooms.

"They were taking decisions in their offices in Quebec City," Morel said. "Mr. Moreau can do better by listening to our propositions, to our solutions and improve our conditions."

Moreau's past stance on CEGEPs a concern

College students are more wary of Moreau's appointment to the top education post.

The Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) recalled that during the Liberal party leadership debates in 2013, Moreau questioned the relevance of CEGEPs today.

"College students are concerned about these past declarations," FECQ president Antoine Côté said. "We ask him simply to re-frame his way of thinking today."