Monthly Archives:October 2018

MONTREAL – The head of the Quebec Bar Association is stepping down.

READ MORE: Four ex-premiers weigh in on suspension of head of Quebec Bar association

Lu Chan Khuong made it official in a joint statement Tuesday with the association, just days after both sides said they reached a mediated agreement over her suspension.

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Related

  • Four ex-premiers weigh in on suspension of head of Quebec Bar association

  • Lawyers force Quebec Bar to hold general assembly on president’s suspension

  • Head of Quebec Bar Association in court fighting her suspension

READ MORE: Quebec Bar President suspended for allegedly shoplifting jeans

Khuong was suspended by the board on July 1 after it was revealed she had been the subject of a shoplifting complaint at a Laval clothing store in April 2014.

READ MORE: Court rejects suspended head of Quebec bar’s bid for immediate reinstatement

She was never charged in connection with the incident and the matter was dealt with non-judicially at the time.

©2015

MONTREAL – An overwhelming 91 per cent of parents said they are satisfied with the level of English instruction their children are receiving, according to a survey by the English Montreal School Board’s Central Parents Committee (CPC).

READ MORE: Not so fast, QESBA tells Quebec’s new education minister

That number dips to 73 per cent for French instruction.

About 850 families responded to the survey, with 69 per cent of parents saying they don’t believe the EMSB’s Commissioners value their opinion.

“I think it shows a lot of disillusionment about how decisions are made at the school board level,” said CPC member Andrew Ross.

“Two out of every three parents at the school board don’t believe the council of commissioners actually thinks about their opinions. For a commission that’s supposed to be looking at those views, that’s an astonishingly bad number.”

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    Parents, teachers and students protest Quebec education cuts

  • Not so fast, QESBA tells Quebec’s new education minister

  • Quebec’s English school boards fight for survival

The survey was wide-ranging, covering questions from the reasons for sending children to English schools to government cutbacks.

READ MORE: Quebec’s English school boards fight for survival

The results come at a time where the English school boards are fighting for survival.

In April, Education Minister François Blais announced a plan to abolish school board elections because of low voter turnout and high cost.

“We’re seeing that parents are demanding change. They have lost faith and lost confidence in the structure of the school board right now,” Ross insisted.

READ MORE: Can Quebec school board elections be saved? Should they be?

The Quebec English School Board Association (QESBA) declined Global News’ request for comment.

According to the parents’ commission, the EMSB initially tried to block the survey from being distributed to parents.

READ MORE: No more school board elections, says Blais

WATCH: The results of a controversial survey regarding the English Montreal School Board have been released. Kelly Greig reports live.

The board claimed that out of 19,000 students in their schools, the number of parents who responded was too low.

“It’s not significant to me in terms of the numbers saying we need to act quickly. However, there are obviously disgruntled parents that are sending us a message,” said EMSB Commissioner Angela Mancini.

More results from the survey are expected to be released after governing board meetings wrap up on Sept. 30.

On Wednesday, a group representing Quebec’s English school boards will unveil their alternatives for selecting commissioners.

©2015

OTTAWA – A Federal Court of Appeal panel has dismissed a government appeal over a ban on face coverings at citizenship ceremonies in what amounts to a major policy rebuke of the Harper government.

The three justices ruled from the bench, saying they wanted to proceed quickly so that Zunera Ishaq, the woman who initially challenged the ban, can obtain her citizenship in time to vote in the Oct. 19 federal election.

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Ishaq, a 29-year-old woman with devout Muslim beliefs who came to Ontario from Pakistan in 2008, refused to take part in a citizenship ceremony because she would have to show her face.

READ MORE: Most Canadians say faces shouldn’t be covered at citizenship ceremonies

The swift ruling left Ishaq speechless, although she said she looks forward to casting her ballot.

One of her lawyers, Maryls Edwardh, said the Immigration Department would be contacted this week so she could attend a citizenship ceremony – accompanied by her lawyers “just in case.”

The Harper government’s rule banning face coverings at such ceremonies was earlier found unlawful by the Federal Court.

Justice Department lawyer Peter Southey argued unsuccessfully that the lower court justice made errors in his original decision to overturn the ban.

Appeal Justice Mary Gleason said the court had no reason to interfere with the earlier ruling.

READ MORE: Canadian ambassador says niqab debate important

The ban on face coverings sparked a bitter debate in the House of Commons when it was first announced.

At Tuesday’s half-day hearing in Ottawa, a Justice Department lawyer told court that the government never meant to make it mandatory for women to remove their face coverings for citizenship ceremonies – a position that left both the judge and Ishaq’s lawyers scratching their heads.

The admission appeared to be a climbdown from the Conservative government’s past position on the issue.

The controversial edict was a regulation that had no actual force in law, Justice Department lawyer Peter Southey told a Federal Court of Appeal hearing.

“It indicates a desire in the strongest possible language,” Southey said – an argument that appeared to come as a surprise to Justice Johanne Trudel.

“I cannot see how this is not mandatory,” Trudel said during the hearing.

Southey later told the court that the immigration minister was conceding that he “could not impose a mandatory rule in a guideline” for the purposes of this appeal.

Lorne Waldman, the lawyer for the woman at the centre of the case, dismissed Southey’s argument, saying everyone from former immigration minister Jason Kenney , his successor Chris Alexander and even Prime Minister Stephen Harper have said in public they see it as a mandatory policy.

Reading from internal government emails, Waldman told court there was not “one iota of discretion” within the policy.

“Everything says mandatory, no discretion – that’s the facts of the case.”

The controversial case focuses on whether a Muslim woman should be required to remove her face covering to take the oath of citizenship.

Outside court, Ishaq questioned the federal government’s new line.

“If it’s not mandatory I would simply say, why they are fighting for it? Just let me go,” she said.

“I can’t even make sense of the statement – what the lawyer said about it that it’s not mandatory. If it’s not mandatory, so why that all this fuss is for?”

©2015

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal rival Justin Trudeau both say they have agreed after all to take part in a campaign leaders’ debate focused on foreign affairs issues scheduled for later this month.

The NDP’s concerns over whether or not the Munk debate would be sufficiently bilingual have been satisfied, Mulcair said Tuesday during a campaign event in Lethbridge, Alta.

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“It now appears that it is going to be on the shoulders of the participants to ensure that it’s going to be in French,” Mulcair said.

READ MORE: Economic issues, not the refugee crisis, at the top of mind for Canadian voters

“I can tell you that I will ensure that it will be bilingual.”

The Liberals later followed Mulcair’s lead, with spokeswoman Kate Purchase issuing a statement that said Trudeau would be there despite lingering doubt about the extent to which the debate will take place in both official languages.

“While we continue to have concerns with the nature of the format with regards to language, there has been some accommodation,” the statement said.

“Foreign policy is a critical issue, particularly with the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, and we look forward to debating these issues fully.”

READ MORE: Leaders debate to put weak economy on front-burner this week

Trudeau had made his participation in all of the national leaders’ debates conditional on having an equal number take place in French and in English.

The Munk debate is scheduled for Sept. 28 at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. The Conservatives have already confirmed that Stephen Harper will be taking part.

The leaders had until noon Tuesday to officially accept the debate invitation.

The Munk debate will be broadcast in French and English both online and on CPAC, the Canadian Public Affairs Channel.

©2015