By Robert Frank
Gilles Ouimet doesn’t mince words about the harm that Bill 14 could wreak in Quebec. “The Parti Québécois is stirring a pot that was at peace,” Fabre’s elected representative in Quebec City told The Suburban in an interview.
“We always have to be careful, because language has to be protected and promoted,” he acknowledged, “but doing so at the expense of social peace is not the way to go.”
“We had reached the point where there was linguistic peace, and we should not be starting useless debates over language issues,” Ouimet asserted. “I support the Quebec Liberal Party’s approach on language, and we’re going to oppose Bill 14.”
The draft legislation proposes giving the province’s language police the right to enter premises and seize, on the spot, any item that they deem to offend the Quebec language charter.
Hitherto, successive separatist governments have been wary of jailing offenders, who could inadvertently become a class of minority-group political prisoners.
Challenging school transfers
Ouimet is also actively engaged on the education front, after the French-speaking Commission scolaire de Laval (CSL) arbitrarily changed its rules, preventing some families from sending all of their children to the same school.
“The enrolment policy has caused some difficulty because the rules were changed retroactively,” Ouimet explained, “after some parents had been promised that their kids would not be transferred.”
“I believe that the action of the school board is unfair, and might also be illegal,” he said.
Ouimet acknowledged Laval’s burgeoning population means that CSL is currently grappling with the issue of overcrowding.
“However, the solution that they have adopted does not take into account that some parents had been given a specific promise,” he countered. “The school board cannot decide to change its rules unilaterally, without at very least consulting parents.”
“I’m not sure that a school board has the right to change the rules, period, with respect to parents who were specifically promised that in the future they would not have to face a transfer.”
“It’s a basic issue of fairness,” Ouimet concluded.
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