Monthly Archives:December 2018

Quebec Bar Association head steps down – Montreal ( admin posted on December 23rd, 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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  • 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.

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Ninety-one per cent of parents satisfied: EMSB parents survey – Montreal ( admin posted on December 23rd, 2018 )

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.

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Court dismisses federal appeal over niqab at citizenship ceremonies ( admin posted on December 23rd, 2018 )

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?”

©2015The Canadian Press

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Mulcair, Trudeau agree to participate in Munk foreign affairs debate – National ( admin posted on December 23rd, 2018 )

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.

©2015The Canadian Press

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Vote on transgender policy put on hold after heated debate by Edmonton Catholic School trustees – Edmonton ( admin posted on December 23rd, 2018 )

EDMONTON – An Edmonton Catholic School Board meeting got extremely heated Tuesday evening as trustees were expected to vote on a proposed policy regarding gender identity and inclusion.

After several hours of back and forth, the topic was eventually put off until next month’s meeting. That decision had a member of Edmonton’s transgender community calling on Alberta’s education minister to step in.

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  • Web series celebrates personal stories of transgender people across Canada

“I call on the Minister of Education, David Eggen, to immediately address this issue by imposing an appropriate policy or desolving (sp) the ECSD Board of Trustees. Further, I call on the Minister to set guidelines for all school boards in Alberta to follow in such cases,” Marni Panas wrote in a blog following the meeting Tuesday.

The proposed policy, which Panas was involved in drafting, would allow students to use the washrooms and change rooms with which they identify, play on sports teams of their choosing and change their school records to align with their gender identities.

Panas said via 桑拿会所 she was in tears watching the meeting online from overseas.

READ MORE: Majority of Alberta Catholics support gay-straight alliances: poll

The policy was developed after controversy arose over a transgender elementary school student who wanted to use the girls’ washroom. She was told by a teacher that she had to use the school’s gender-neutral bathroom instead.

Education Minister David Eggen said Wednesday morning he found the comments made by some of the trustees. to be “entirely unacceptable and quite disturbing.”

“What is a sensitive, important issue in regards to human rights broke and dissolved into acrimony,” said Eggen. “I don’t expect that I will see that again and if it does so there will be consequences.”

“I expect a higher standard from all elected officials here, generally in Alberta, and specifically with Edmonton Catholic.”

Eggen said he spoke with board chair Debbie Engel Wednesday morning and she assured him the board “will move forward to build a coherent transgender policy.”

Eggen said he will be monitoring the situation very carefully and expects it will be dealt with as soon as possible.

READ MORE: 16×9’s “Gender Identity”

“We know that it is our responsibility under the School Act and the responsibility of Edmonton Catholic under the School Act to ensure that we have safe, caring and secure places for all students.”

The girl’s mother, who has asked her name not be published, spoke before the meeting Tuesday to say she was there “not only for my child but all the transgender children in the Catholic system.”

“Today is not only about the rights, responsibility and obligations of care of all children, it’s also about accountability of our actions,” the mother said before getting cut off due to a three-minute time allowance.

READ MORE: Local mother accuses Edmonton Catholic School Board of discrimination

Before discussions on the policy began Tuesday, Trustee Cindy Olsen hoped to pass an amendment to drop the topic from the agenda. Olsen said the board needed more time to discuss the draft policy and consult with parents.

“My intention was to give the board time to discuss and provide an opportunity for consultation on an inclusion policy.  My comments and intent last night was to remove the item temporarily from the agenda which would give us time to discuss and consult with our community,” Olsen said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

After pushback from other trustees – Vice-Chair Marilyn Bergstra in particular – a vote was held and the discussion went ahead as planned. Tempers in the room and on social media quickly flared, with a clear divide on the topic.

In the end, trustees voted in favour of referring the vote on the policy until Oct. 15 with the hope that more discussion and consultation can take place.

The trustees then voted to end the meeting. All other issues on Tuesday’s agenda were put on hold.

Parents of transgender Edmonton student search for answers


Parents of transgender Edmonton student search for answers


Washroom decision up to school


Supports for transgender people


Marni Panas on gender identity


Local transgender woman talks about the journey of going public


New rules make it easier for transgender Albertans to change birth documents


Transgender woman recognized

Following the meeting, Archbishop Richard Smith released the statement below, saying in part, “The Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta has approved a resource document intended to assist Catholic school divisions in formulating policies and procedures to address the needs of students around gender identity and expression.”

The Archbishop encouraged trustees to consider CCSSA resources when drafting district policies.

Read the full statement below. 

View this document on Scribd

With files from Kent Morrison, Slav Kornik, Global News.

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