The gam­ble may have back­fired

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

Mon­day’s La Presse front page ar­ti­cle on the East­ern Town­ships School Board gam­ble of spend­ing tens of thou­sands of dol­lars to at­tract ‘for­eign’ stu­dents will not help the ETSB, nor the An­glo­phone school boards of the prov­ince.

The pro­gram is a panacea for the de­clin­ing enrolment of stu­dents in the school board and, as the Mon­treal news­pa­per re­ported, is not ex­actly pub­lic knowl­edge be­cause the Board has not di­rectly ap­proved of it. To­tal cost of the lat­est trip to Asia and Europe, around $8,000. Next trip, in Fe­bru­ary, is to Mex­ico and then Brazil some­time. This news­pa­per has a strange feel­ing that this will not play well with the French press. Luck­ily, the Na­tional Assem­bly is in re­cess. Not the politi­cians.

We do not think that ‘re­cruit­ing’ for­eign stu­dents to learn English in Que­bec is the most bril­liant po­lit­i­cal move of the mil­len­nium. Al­ready the pri­vate English schools in the prov­ince are liv­ing on bor­rowed time; if they are to face com­pe­ti­tion from the pub­lic sec­tor, one won­ders how long they will sur­vive.

Now, it would be easy to blame the Lib­er­als, but since the PQ was in power for almost 18 months, it looks as if they were not ex­actly mind­ing the store. More so for their base clien­tele.

The blame rests on the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion: if they never found out about this, they are in­com­pe­tent.

As for the op­po­si­tion to the school board move­ment, they have been given another golden op­por­tu­nity to dis­man­tle them. One of the main hold­backs was that the English school board had a con­sti­tu­tional guar­an­tee, not re­spect­ing the un­writ­ten rule that they are not to ‘angli­cize’ im­mi­grants. That was the deal that Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter and later Premier Pauline Marois was able to ne­go­ti­ate with her gov­ern­ment, then led by Lu­cien Bouchard. Break­ing the deal will be seen by many as a sign that the An­glo­phones are back to their old games once again. That the re­al­ity is more com­plex doesn’t change the per­cep­tion what­so­ever.

When you add to the mix that there is al­ready a per­cep­tion that the Couil­lard gov­ern­ment is almost anti-French, un­able to un­der­stand what Québec (with the ac­cent) is, then you have an ex­plo­sive mix. While some are con­fi­dent that the fixed date elec­tion is a guar­an­tee for An­glo­phones for the next four years, we would not bet our last dol­lar on this. The old Robert Bourassa recipe of keep­ing so­cial peace doesn’t seem to be part of this gov­ern­ment’s DNA.

Ac­tu­ally, the whole mess could be avoided. BY YOU. While we un­der­stand that some An­glo­phone par­ents are almost forced to send their chil­dren to a French school, an hour bus drive is not a pleas­ant out­ing for a young­ster go­ing to el­e­men­tary school, the fact is that the French school boards are full of An­glo­phone kids who are de­plet­ing the sys­tem. So all of this would be avoided if par­ents sent their kids to English school.

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