Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Controversy in Quebec as More French Students Choose English College

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Controversy in Quebec as More French Students Choose English College

Article excerpt

Debate on access to English college in Quebec

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MONTREAL - Simon Berube loves Quebec, its culture, French language and people, but he and his parents decided the best thing he could do for his future was to enrol in one of the province's English-language junior colleges.

Berube, 18, is a francophone and as such was not allowed to attend English primary or secondary school because of the province's Bill 101 language law.

But he and a growing number of his peers are choosing to attend Quebec's pre-university English junior colleges, which are not subject to the law.

"Some people want to travel, experience things in other parts of the world and English is the key," Berube, who comes from Quebec's Eastern Townships, said in an interview.

English junior colleges are in such a delicate position that some of them have an unwritten agreement with the Quebec government to avoid advertising their programs in francophone media or directly recruiting in French high schools unless specifically invited to do so.

During a convention this weekend, Parti Quebecois delegates will debate and possibly vote on a resolution to cut funding to English colleges, known as CEGEPs, because they are attracting too many non-anglophones.

If the PQ wins the fall 2018 election, further limiting access to English-language education could be part of its agenda.

"Anglophone (colleges) shouldn't be an open bar," PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee recently told reporters.

It's unclear whether Lisee supports the idea himself or brought it up in order to appease a restless base before Saturday's confidence vote on his leadership.

Quebec's English community is used to having its institutions threatened by political parties trying to get votes, said Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of an anglophone advocacy group.

"It's identity politics," said Chambers, who is with the Quebec Community Groups Network. "I think it's pandering to a very bad instinct."

Berube said he fully supports Quebec's language laws, but doesn't think they should extend to the CEGEP system.

"French is part of Quebec," said the second-year Dawson College student. "And if the French language is lost then the French culture in North America is basically lost and that's something people have to understand.

"But English is important to learn if you want to have a good job."

The CEGEP system was created in the late '60s and the schools offer two-year pre-university programs. …

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