Montreal

What each party would do for Quebec's anglophone community

The Liberals promise if elected, they'll keep the Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers. What would the other parties do when it comes to anglophone rights?

Anglo rights may not be a major campaign issue, but they matter to that community

From left to right: Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard, Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée, Québec Solidaire spokesperson Manon Massé, and CAQ Leader François Legault. (CBC)

Anglo rights may not be a big campaign issue, nor have there been any official announcements or promises made so far, but to some English-speaking Quebecers, how the province interacts with and provides for its English-speaking citizens is a big deal.

In fact, other than cursory lines in party platforms recognizing the importance of the Anglo minority, no concrete commitments have been made.

Here's what we do know, so far:

Liberal Party

The Liberals are relying on what they have already done when in power, which was the creation of the Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers in October 2017.

With that came the announcement that $6.9 million would be set aside for English community organizations.

At the announcement of Jennifer Maccarone's candidacy in Westmount–Saint-Louis, Philippe Couillard talked about anglophones' 'fundamental rights.' (CBC)

Leader Philippe Couillard may have forgotten to speak English at his official campaign launch, but he has said he values anglophones.

"English-speaking Quebecers are part of our history and what we are," he said at the announcement that Jennifer Maccarone would run as the Liberal candidate in Westmount–Saint-Louis.

"Their rights are fundamental, as was their contribution to the history of Quebec."

If elected to another mandate, the party would keep the secretariat.

Coalition Avenir Québec

Polls suggest that Coalition Avenir Québec could form the next majority government.

But its commitment to anglophones in the province isn't clear. When asked whether a CAQ government would keep the secretariat, leader François Legault did not have a clear answer.

"We're open to keep it, if it's useful," he said, choosing not to elaborate.

Last Friday, Legault did highlight that what rights Anglos already have, they would keep.

"All the anglophones in Quebec, they have some rights, and I have the intention of respecting these rights," he said.

"They are allowed to receive all services in education and health care in English, and that will be protected."

Parti Québécois

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée says, if elected, his party would keep the secretariat.

"Of course we will," he said.

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée was the PQ's anglophone relations minister in the Pauline Marois administration. 'Having real concrete measures and a real voice for our most important minority in Quebec' is a must, he said. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

"I was the minister responsibility for anglophones. I never understood why the Liberals didn't want to follow through with the precedent we set."​

A bit of background: Lisée was named minister charged with improving government relations with Quebec's anglophones when the PQ came to power in 2012.

After coming to power in 2014, the Liberals created the secretariat in 2017.

For Lisée, continuing that work is a must.

"That means having real concrete measures and a real voice for what is our most important minority in Quebec, which is the Anglo community," he said.

But Lisée has also said Quebec anglophones need to be better in French.

A PQ government would introduce a new law, Bill 202, which would require students enrolled in English CEGEPs to study for one session at a French-language CEGEP.

It would also introduce more mandatory French courses in English CEGEPs and universities.

Bill 202 would extend requirements that businesses prove they can operate in French to smaller businesses, changing it from the current 50 employees to 25.

Québec Solidaire

​There's no mention of anglophones in Québec Solidaire's platform, but the minority is highlighted in the overall policies of the party.

Québec Solidaire says Anglos "represent a significant minority that is an integral part of the Quebec nation."

Like the CAQ, Québec Solidaire says it recognizes the rights that anglophones have acquired, such as access to health care and education in English.

When asked whether the party would maintain the secretariat should it gain power, spokesperson Stéphanie Guévremont simply replied, "Yes."


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About the Author

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.

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