Quebec’s English Community the Real Winners of English-language Debate
Four party leaders from the main political parties in Quebec recently came together for the first-ever televised debate held in the English Language in Quebec, ahead of the Oct. 1 elections. Global News Montreal’s senior anchor Jamie Orchard hosted the debate, which was co-moderated by CBC’s Debra Arbec and CTV’s Mutsumi Takahashi.
The party leaders involved in the debate were Quebec Liberal Party Leader Philippe Couillard, Parti Québécois (PQ) Leader Jean-François Lisée, Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) Leader François Legault and Québec Solidaire Spokesperson Manon Massé. They touched on several topics spanning health, economy, education, immigration e.t.c. and were all required to debate using English, which is their second language.
The topic of relations with Quebec’s English speakers also came up during the debate. Lisée maintained that the PQ wants English students to flourish in Quebec.
“We are proposing this time around that CEGEP students have an immersion session at a French CEGEP so they can be as good with their diplomas as their francophone counterparts,” Lisée said.
“We want to keep these children here.”
In the course of the debate which was reported on Global News, Legault attacked Couillard with the accusation that his Liberal government’s efforts to balancing the budget were “an error” that gravely harmed the education system. This led to a heated argument between Couillard, Lisée and Legault and it only took co-moderatorArbec’s interruption to bring them back to the topic of discussion.
As regarding health care, when asked what they would do to make services more accessible for English-speaking families with special needs, Couillard noted that the parents of special needs children have asked for adult-day centres, and promised to fulfil that need.
“As children get older, parents worry,” Couillard said
Massé noted the financial constraints on the part of the Liberal Party, pointing out the only way to give more services to families in need is to take money from big pharma companies.
Liséementioned that his party would put specialized nurses who would workfrom 9 a.m. to 9 p.m daily in all of Quebec’s local community services centres.
“So if you have a small emergency, don’t go to the hospital, go to the CLSC and in 90 percent of the cases, she [the nurse] will be able to alleviate your problem and this will reduce wait times at the emergency room,” he said.
Legault pointed out, “We will never solve problems in the health system until we have doctors and nurses available seven days a week.”
The debate went on and on, touching on other topics such as the economy, identity, environment, immigration, with the four party leaders going on at each other in the English Language.
There seems to be a general consensus that the real winners of the debate are English speakers who have made Quebec their home. Even though French is the official and common language in Quebec, English is also not a foreign language, and it was a great victory to have all main party leaders put aside their differences regarding the language and show respect to Quebec’s English language speakers, making sure everyone feels at home.