Six board members resign from anglo-rights group QCGN over president's 'confrontational' style

Geoffrey Chambers of the Quebec Community Groups Network

MONTREAL -- The dominoes continue to fall at the Quebec Community Groups Network as six board members announced their resignations from the anglo-rights group Tuesday.

The mass resignation comes a week after thirteen of the QCGN's 60 member organizations defected. Some organizations, particularly in rural areas, say the network's stance against the CAQ government has been too severe.

"We have lost confidence in the QCGN president's ability to reform a leadership style that has so alienated numerous members that their entire board has voted to resign," the board members said in a joint statement.

Five of the six resigning board members are associated with member organizations that defected last week.

They are:

  • Mary Ellen Beaulieu of the North Shore Community Association
  • Cheryl Henry-Leggo of Vision Gaspé-Percé Now
  • Sharleen Sullivan of Neighbours Regional Association of Rouyn-Noranda
  • Edward Sweeney of Voice of English Quebec (Quebec City)
  • Guy Rodgers of the province-wide English-Language Arts Network
  • Christopher Neal, an at-large board member

QCGN's board is now reduced from 14 members to eight.

The resigning board members cite a "confrontational leadership style" of QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers as reason for their resignation. 

THe QCGN issued a statement later in the day, saying it "profoundily regrets the very public departures" of those board members.

“This is not surprising. We advised them last week they were no longer directors of the QCGN board,” said Chambers in the statement.

The QCGN has taken a hardline stance against the CAQ, accusing the provincial government of trying to divide English speakers and destabilize the network that supports them.

Last week, Chambers claimed the CAQ is politicizing the work of the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers by demanding community organizations support the department to receive funding. The six resigning board members say they are challenging that accusation.

“This provocative and unsubstantiated allegation undermines QCGN’s credibility in challenging government policy on issues of real concern to Quebec’s English-speaking community,” they said, citing access to health care services in English, proposed legislation to replace school boards with service centres and Quebec's secularism law as priorities.

The board members who are resigning said in a letter that their efforts to address leadership and governance concerns have been "thwarted at every turn."

"QCGN’s leadership must be able to build bridges to decision-makers that ensure that English-speaking Quebecers’ views are heard and heeded in government policy and programs," the letter reads. "This is not the case at present.”

QCGN vice-president Gerald Cutting said he finds it "regrettable" the former board members engaged in this "very public squabble."

“If you are committed to fighting for the vitality of our community, we need all hands on deck at this critical juncture,” he said.