CAQ's Anglophone consultations come to the West Island

Christopher Skeete (La Presse)

The Legault Government's point-man on relations with the English-speaking community, Sainte-Rose MNA Christopher Skeete, brought his travelling consultation series to Pointe-Claire Friday afternoon.

The three-hour event, the sixth of at least ten across the province, was closed to the press, but those in attendance told CJAD 800 News afterwards that they thought it went well.

"It seemed to have a positive outlook to me, and it seems they're going to try and move forward [on a number of issues]," said Lindsey Moore of the N.D.G. Community Council.

Carol Meindl of the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations agreed, saying, "I think it was great that we had an opporutnity to sit down and talk about the things that we know are the challenges in our community."

In the consultation room, just like at past consultations held in New Carlisle, Quebec City, Laval and Montreal's east-end, a bulletin board was set up where participants were encouraged to leave sticky-note suggestions for provincial bureaucrats to later review.  Christopher Skeete says he hasn't looked at them yet.

Skeete said that while the CAQ's controversial more controversial policies, like plans to dramatically reform school boards, did come up, most people raised more bread-and-butter issues to him.

"The number-one request from the community is access to French-language training," Skeete said to reporters after the consultation, which he suggested often surprises his Francophone colleagues in cabinet.

Skeete added that for him, these consultations are not just about how to improve things like education and service-delivery for English-speaking Quebecers, but also about the future of the Anglophone Secretariat itself.

When the Secretariat was created by the former Couillard Government in 2017, its funding was set to expire after just a few years.  Skeete said that's still the case today, and that while he thinks it should be made permanent, that view is not universal.

"I inherited something that's temporary, so this is why for me, one of the first things I wanted to do was engage in a consultation period, to see what the future should look like", he said.

He added that when the Secretariat's funding expires in five years' time, it will be up to the Premier, and not the Minister in charge of the Secretariat, to decide if it should be renewed for another temporary term, made a permanent department of the provincial government, or concluded.

"My job at the Secretariat is, on the one side, to speak with my counterparts in cabinet and in the different ministries, to make sure that they take into consideration the reality of the English community, and on the flip-side to make sure that we give the capacity to the community to better interact with the state," Skeete said. 

"If we do our job well on one end and we do our job well on the other end, we should have better outcomes for the English community in general."