What Are You Doing Sunday?

By Joel Ceausu on October 30, 2014

You’ve read the headlines. Here, in other papers, saw TV reports and heard it on the radio.

You get it; the game is stacked against English participation in school board elections. Unless you have a kid in English school, you should never have assumed you have the right to vote for English boards, because for years the English boards have been double-teamed: Names summarily yanked off English rolls by an electoral system designed to minimize the Anglo franchise, while language laws choke off enrolment.

 

Nice talk of collaboration, lobbying and consultations has not amounted to a hill of beans over the years. That’s not my opinion:

 

“The English voters’ list has been an issue for our community since the inception of linguistic school boards in 1998,” reads a recent press release from the Quebec English School Boards Association. “QESBA has been working for over 11 years with successive governments to try and put an end to this issue that hurts our democratic process.” Eleven years. (Cue the Pink Panther theme): QESBA has been on the case since the fall of Bagdad, the Shuttle Columbia disaster, a $7.20 minimum wage and the passing of the Great Antonio.

 

Quite a record, and quite stunning that during this first election campaign in seven years, the lobby group whose tagline is “the voice of English public education in Québec” and is funded by our tax dollars, has decided it could do little more than publicly trumpet its own colossal failure.

 

So if the group whose sole purpose is to advocate on your behalf has effectively spun its wheels into irrelevance on the most fundamental of issues, then it up to you this Sunday.

 

What are you thinking about? During this campaign, we have heard candidates and slates talk about what they have been thinking.

 

Is it French, transparency, taxation, transportation?

 

Do you want executive committees and commissioner expenses made public? Do you need three language programs in the EMSB? Should the school boards run – and pay – for elections? Is there a place for independence on board councils? Should schools stay open once enrolment dips below 200 students?

 

Should “special status” schools keep tens of thousands in cash they garnish from every fall’s Entrance-Exam-Orgy, hoarding those funds from hopeful parents to finance programs for those who make it into uber-competitive public schools, in what is probably the most perverse inversion of the spirit of public education – the weaker subsidizing the strong?

 

How far should your child be bused to school? How many anti-bullying and multiculturalism programs are just pandering to parent fears and distractions from the far more difficult task of teaching little Johnny to read and write?

 

Think about it, and consider that Quebec City and French school boards are sniffing around, licking their chops at how those underused English schools would suit their bulging institutions, engorged on a steady and exclusive diet of fresh immigration.

 

Will you agree to cohabitate with French schools, knowing that the law assures your shrinkage and their growth? How long until the elbows come out?

 

Look at your tax bill, ask your kids and your neighbours. Engage yourself, and after that ask yourself if you feel you want to stay home.

 

Just do it with a full heart. While the right to vote includes the right not to vote, it doesn’t include the right to act irresponsibly. Because that hurts everyone.

 

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