Canadian Party of Quebec holds rally in support of Quebec’s English universities
By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
The Canadian Party of Quebec (CPQ) held a rally in support of Quebec’s English universities, which face a governmental doubling (to $17,000) of tuition fees for out-of-province students starting in 2024, at the Golden Lion Pub in Lennoxville Nov. 4. Party leadership, members and other supporters took turns speaking to a gathering of around 40 people. The event included performances by local musicians Tim Brink and Billy Lidstone.
“We’re here to support our historical, successful and world-renowned universities: Bishop’s, McGill and Concordia,” said CPQ President Liz Campbell; the tuition hike will “decimate” the universities financially. “It’s time for us to stand up and send a clear message to Francois Legault: Hands off our English institutions!”
“My rights are not protected,” Deputy Leader Myrtis Fossey said, after recounting how her parents, of British and Greek descent, immigrated to Quebec in the 60s. “[We] are not ‘pure laine’ enough.” The hyper-focus of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) on the decline of French provides “the perfect smokescreen” for their other failures.
It’s not true that English universities are better funded than their French counterparts, said local economist Derek Heatherington. The government has claimed English universities cost the Quebec government $110 million a year, he continued, but the GDP of out-of-province students is over half a billion dollars a year. “The value of English universities in Quebec is much greater than the cost on paper.”
“I’m tired of feeling like a second-class citizen in my home province,” said former Lennoxville Elementary School Principal Dawn Irving. Since the introduction of Bill 101, enrolment has declined in Quebec English primary and secondary schools. The governmental attacks on Quebec’s anglophone schools have been going on for years and “now they are just taking it up a notch”.
Bill 96 is a movement towards “sovereignty-association” without a referendum, said former Townshippers’ Association President Gerald Cutting. Quebec’s English institutions keep their associated culture dynamic and worldly. Everything the CAQ is doing now is part of a plan, he insisted, to undermine English institutions. “We must rise to the occasion,” he said, and protect Bishop’s, the most vulnerable of Quebec’s three English universities. “Welcome to the trenches.”
“People are waking up to the small-minded, petty, cruel and irrational policies that have defined Quebec for nearly 60 years,” said CPQ Leader Colin Standish; language rights are a moral battle.
The rally lasted around two and a half hours and ended with a few speeches by local and Montreal-based supporters followed by some songs by Brink and Lidstone.