Legault describes the EMSB as “radical” after the board’s resolution on Bill 96

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EMSB President Joe Ortona backed down on the resolution’s objection to Quebec’s national membership after being removed from Ensemble Montreal’s list of candidates.

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Quebec Premier François Legault publicly suggested on Tuesday that the English Montreal School Board had become a “radical” organization after it was reported that the school board wanted the federal government to postpone reviewing provincial language laws. of Quebec to the Supreme Court.

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The Anglophone School Board wants to challenge Bill 96 – the Legault government’s proposed revision of the Charter of the French Language – whose changes include the recognition of French as the only official language of the province and the constitutional recognition of Quebec as that nation. The council calls on the federal government to send the law back to the Supreme Court of Canada to verify its legality.

Legault, speaking to reporters in an update on the pandemic, said the EMSB’s arguments seemed “out of touch” and contradicted the recent recognition by a House of Commons vote that Quebec is a nation.

The Prime Minister said he was satisfied with the decision on Tuesday of Montreal mayoral candidate Denis Coderre to remove EMSB president Joe Ortona as municipal candidate and said it seemed the EMSB had become a “group. radical”.

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“I recognize Quebec as a nation, just like our political party,” declared Ensemble Montréal leader Denis Coderre in response to a document from the EMSB contesting Quebec’s national identity. The candidate for mayor of Montreal is seen at the Jean Talon Market on July 15, 2021. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

Coderre withdrew Ortona from his list of candidates on Tuesday morning, shortly after Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet called the EMSB document an “insult” during a press conference held on the steps of the Supreme Court in Ottawa.

The EMSB issued a statement on Tuesday confirming that its Council of Commissioners passed a resolution calling on the Quebec government to withdraw Bill 96 and calling on the federal government to “send the bill back to the Supreme Court of Canada for it to do so.” it decides on its legality ”.

“Quebec is not a ‘nation’”, one can read in one of the “expected” clauses of the EMSB resolution, quoting Jon G. Bradley, retired associate professor of McGill University.

“It never has been. Its status is recognized by the United Nations as a province within the nation of Canada. To call itself something does not make it, and the Quebec intelligentsia deliberately misuses the word “nation” to imply a reality that only exists in its mirage. The only precise word to use concerning the Quebec reality is “province”. ”

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Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet, seen in an archive photo, said the EMSB document is an
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet, seen in an archive photo, said the EMSB document is an “insult”. Photo by CHRISTINNE MUSCHI /Reuters

Blanchet calls on Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole to formally commit that if either of their parties forms the next government, they will not challenge Bill 96 once they are ‘it will become law.

In a statement, Coderre said Ortona never informed Ensemble Montreal of the EMSB’s intention to challenge Bill 96.

EMSB president Joe Ortona, seen in a file photo, was dropped as Ensemble Montreal's candidate in the November municipal election.
EMSB president Joe Ortona, seen in a file photo, was dropped as Ensemble Montreal’s candidate in the November municipal election. Photo by Allen McInnis /Montreal Gazette

“It is unacceptable,” Coderre said in a statement. “The protection of the French language is one of our fundamental values, a value that we have so publicly manifested time and time again. … I recognize Quebec as a nation, just like our political party.

“The document from the English Montreal School Board, headed by Mr. Ortona, goes totally against the values ​​of our party.

Ensemble Montréal will replace Ortona with Gabriel Retta as the party’s candidate for municipal council in the district of Loyola, in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges — Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

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“I was happy to see Denis Coderre show the door to his candidate from the English Montreal School Board,” Legault told reporters on Tuesday. “I think they’re out of touch. It is as if this group has become a radical group.

Ortona released a statement on Tuesday, expressing disappointment both in the reaction to the resolution’s passage by the EMSB and in Coderre’s decision to drop him as a candidate.

But he also backtracked significantly on the resolution’s objection to Quebec nationality.

Ortona said the EMSB “made a mistake in questioning the fact that Quebec is a nation. While we don’t dispute the concept, we want to make sure English-speaking Quebecers are seen as an integral part of the nation. “

He said he would recommend his fellow commissioners to amend the resolution and remove references to any objection to Quebec being labeled a nation. But the EMSB will continue to urge the Quebec government to withdraw Bill 96.

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The commission opposes the bill, said Ortona, because it increases the restrictions on access to English schools for the children of those working temporarily in Quebec, increases the powers of the Office québécois de la langue française to carry out searches and seizures without a warrant, restricts access to CEGEPs and restricts the use of English in the justice system.

He said he would continue to advocate for an “inclusive Quebec” and promote the interests and views of English-speaking Quebecers. He added that he was considering running as an independent in Loyola.

“As for my candidacy in Loyola District, it was no accident that I chose to run there,” said Ortona. “My reputation as a defender of Anglophone rights was well known to Ensemble Montreal. Many supporters want me to stay in the race as an independent and I am now thinking about it.

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