Sherbrooke, November 26, 2017.
The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) General Council took place on November 25 and 26 in Sherbrooke. The Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ) was present in order to analyse the issues debated at this event leading up to the CAQ convention in the spring of 2018. Party activists, encouraged by recent polling results for their party, attended in large numbers. As was the case at the youth convention, the weekend was characterized by little debate on most motions, as well as difficulties with the chairing of the meeting.
Several resolutions adopted stand in contradiction to AVEQ’s positions. Firstly, we would like to note that the resolutions relating to regional issues did not contain a single reference to the rights of Indigenous peoples. On the issue of sexual violence, violence against women was repeatedly minimized under the pretext that such violence affects everyone, including men. Despite this, when a member proposed a more inclusive formulation in order to also take into account the realities of people who do not fit into binary and heteronormative categories, the chair and members of the meeting broke into laughter and categorically rejected the proposed amendment. It is concerning to see this kind of reaction to a reality which affects a significant number of people, and this attitude perpetuates the oppression faced by trans people.
Turning to issues relating to education, AVEQ is favourable to the resolution stating that the CAQ wishes “to reinvest in regional CEGEPs and universities, and revise the funding formula.” Nonetheless, we question the likelihood of a CAQ government putting such measures in place, given their simultaneous intention to reduce individual taxation in various way. Questions remain concerning where the CAQ would find additional revenues to fund this kind of promise having shrunk Quebec’s treasury. For example, would students be faced with new fees? Would the changes to the funding formula depend on even more reliance on the private sector, thereby propelling the commodification of education to even greater heights?
Positive developments from the weekend include a resolution on work-study-family balance, in addition to a position on bursaries for interns. Despite the fact that the latter consists of financial compensation, the issue of remunerated internships is making progress everywhere, and we continue to support groups fighting for it, as well as pushing political parties to consider the insufficiency of compensation.