New education bill will spin fine web of authority

This article focuses on PQ Education Minister, Camille Laurin’s proposal to weaken the mandate of locally elected school boards and transfer important decision making powers to the Quebec Minister of Education. It was published in The Gazette, Montreal, September 14, 1983 under the headline: “New education bill will spin fine web of authority” and again in the News and Chronicle, Montreal, Wednesday November 16, 1983 under the headline: Bill 40 will not develop new form of democracy.

Camille Laurin, Quebec’s education Minister, may claim to be developing a new form of democracy, but his most recent blueprint still displays a determination to create a web of authority that reaches into every corner of the province.

If Bill 40 is enacted into law it will create a new and important vehicle for a political party whose primary aim is the wholesale reconstruction of Quebec society. A new system will be developed through which all substantive elements of Quebec education can be controlled and monitored by the minister.

Laurin’s original intention to eliminate locally elected school boards was not well received by the Quebec public. As a consequence, Bill 40 has introduced some new elements in an effort to make the Minister’s original plans more palatable.

Instead of entirely abolishing locally elected school boards, the bill would simply remove their authorship to develop educational policy. A cursory examination of the responsibilities and powers being allotted to the “new boards” indicates an abrupt end to any role they have been able to play in the more formative aspects of public education.

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Reflections on Quebec’s “Regime Pedagogigue”

The following presentation was delivered to a Community Conference for Parents sponsored by the Department of Administration and Policy Studies in Education, McGill University in collaboration with the Quebec Anglophone citizens’ organization known as “Alliance Quebec.” It was first published in the editorial section of The Gazette, Montreal, March 4, 1983 under the headline: “Quebec moves to influence courses and young minds” and again in the News and Chronicle, Montreal, Wednesday, June 13, 1984 under the headline: Quebec Curriculum will promote obsolescence.

During the long struggle against former Education Minister, Camille Laurin’s plans to realign and centralize Quebec’s education systems a profound public concern developed over the question of what is to be taught in our schools.

That concern revolved around two fundamental issues which have yet to be satisfactorily resolved.

The first is a growing suspicion among Quebeckers that the role of the state in Quebec’s schools is reaching proportions beyond the requirements of our democratic pluralistic society. The second is a deep seated concern that heavily centralized mechanisms for the development of school curricula may be generating programs that are unable to satisfy the future needs of our children.

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Quebec parents about to lose their say in education

This article was published in the News and Chronicle, Montreal, Thursday, April 22, 1982 under the headline “Laurin should not call the tune on education” and again in The Gazette, Montreal, September 16, 1982 under the headline: “Quebec parents about to lose their say in education.”

Education Minister, Camille Laurin’s recent white paper entitled The Quebec School, may not make great summer reading, but his proposals should be fully understood by all Quebecers.

The Minister proposes to eliminate two strongly established elements of our education system with one stroke of his pen.

First he intends to change the present denominational alignment of Quebec’s school boards in favour of an essentially unified school system. Secondly, he aims to eliminate the democratic and truly “public” character of the school boards themselves.

By claiming to make the school the focal point of Quebec’s new educational order, Laurin’s plan will eliminate the historic recognition of two complementary yet culturally independent education systems in the province.

For all intents and purposes, the Minister proposes to create a common education system through which the provincial government will control all major functions such as the development of the school curriculum, the certification of teachers and the distribution of the budget.

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Quebec’s school system may be victim of “new democracy”

This article focuses on the P.Q. Government’s plans to restructure the provinces education system. It was published in the Calgary Herald, March 25, 1982.

The Quebec government will soon introduce legislation that would abolish locally-elected, confessional school boards and redesign Quebec’s education system around unified regional councils that would bring schools more directly under the control of the province’s Ministry of Education. The move has alarmed some Quebeckers, and in this article, William Brooks, a Montreal school commissioner, looks at the issue in the context of what he sees as; the growing centralist tendencies of the Quebec government. He believes “all Canadians should be aware of what we are facing in Quebec.”

Quebec’s scheme to realign and centralize the province’s education structures must be viewed in the context of the larger dilemma that is engulfing Quebec democracy.

The problem stems from a profound public absentmindedness about the historic role of government in our society. We once assumed that “… that government is best which governs least.”

Our constitutional democracy was based on a healthy mistrust of government and aimed to limit the conditions under which the coercion of individual citizens was possible.” Good government” simply meant a viable frame work for peace order and personal freedom.

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The Need for Deregulation in Quebec

The following is a summary of an address delivered by William Brooks to the first public symposium of the St. Lawrence Institute held at the McGill University Faculty Club on Wednesday, January 28, 1981.

The history of democracy is the history of the limitation of absolute power. In the heydays of modern democracy peopled believed “that government is best which governs least.”

Liberal democracy was based on a belief in the inherent worth of individuals, a trust in people and a distrust of intrusive government. Democracy aimed to limit the coercive power of government through the “rule of law.” Adam Smith’s favorite metaphor for a good government in a liberal democratic state was that of a “night watchman.”

Political democracy grew hand in hand with free-market capitalism which in turn was developed alongside the economic principle of “laissez faire.” Leave markets alone. Political democracy combined with economic and individual freedoms became the bedrock of the classical liberal faith. By the mid-nineteenth century nations that had replaced authoritarian government and mercantilist economics with liberal principles were on their way to unprecedented productivity and prosperity.

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Referendum Reflection

By Yarema Kelebay and William Brooks

This short article was written after some 60% of Quebeckers voted no to the Parti Quebecois government’s request for a mandate to negotiate “sovereignty-association” with Canada. It was published in the News and Chronicle, Montreal, May 29, 1980.

We know from the results of last week’s referendum that supporters of Quebec independence are clearly in the minority. Ninety –three out of one hundred and ten ridings responded “non” even to the soft request for a mandate to negotiate sovereignty-association. The popular vote swung roughly sixty-forty against Premier Levesque’s “oui” option.

Nevertheless, it was clear from the Premier’s remarks to his followers immediately after the vote that he did not regard the results as definitive and final. Federalism, he said, has been given “one more chance” but remains on trial.

Among the partisan cheers in the Paul Sauve arena he clearly implied that the PQ objective of a sovereign Quebec remained legitimate in spite of its rejection by a majority of the province’s citizens.

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Examining the PQ

By Yarema Kelebay and William Brooks

On Thursday, May 15, 1980, days before the first Quebec referendum on “sovereignty-association” (separation from Canada) this article was published in the News and Chronicle, Montreal.

Before going to the polls on Tuesday let’s reflect awhile on the nature of the Quebec independence movement.

In March of 1975, Senator Patrick Moynihan former American Ambassador to the United Nations wrote an article for Commentary entitled “The United States in Opposition.” He pointed out that the modern world has witnessed three major ideological revolutions.

The American Revolution gave us the “minimal state” based on republican democracy and private enterprise. The Russian Revolution gave us the “total state” based on communism and a state controlled economy. The British Revolution gave us the “welfare state” based on the redistribution of wealth through parliamentary legislation.

The British Revolution, he said, began in 1947 when socialist Britain granted independence to socialist India. This act began the process of decolonization and the liquidation of the old European empires. Between 1947 and 1975 eighty-seven new nations joined the UN. More than half of these new nations were former British colonies.

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“The English fact in Quebec” examined

By Yarema Kelebay & William Brooks

The following article review was published in the News and Chronicle, Montreal, Thursday, April 24, 1980.

An English edition of “le Fait Anglais au Quebec” by Sheila McLeod Arnopoulos and Dominic Clift was published by McGill-Queens University Press. On the eve of the Parti Quebecois independence referendum the book set out to define the Quebec Anglophone community in terms of its past, present and future perspectives.

According to reports Arnopoulos and Clift were to share the 1979 Governor Generals award for non-fiction in French. In the following review Kelebay and Brooks offer readers a second opinion on the book’s merits.

Under a timely title: “The English Fact in Quebec” Arnopoulos and Clift offer a rather tired thesis to Canadian readers.

Relying on highly tendentious sources, such as Canada’s senior Marxist historian, Stanley Ryerson and Montreal’s clever young iconoclast, Tom Naylor, they direct a steady stream of criticism at what they call “English economic behaviour.” For this read Canadian capitalism. Given sources of this tenor their version of history and economics is somewhat predictable.

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History experts make case against the new “Histoire Nationale”

By Yarema Kelebay and William Brooks

Following the publication of a green paper on education, the Quebec Ministry of Education decided to revise much of the province’s public school curriculum. One of the most controversial programs then under revision was the compulsory Canadian history course given at the Secondary IV level. The following case against that program was first published in the West Island News and Chronicle on Tuesday, November 15, 1979. It was later published as a cover story in Teaching History by the (British) Historical Society, London, UK, October 1980.

The Case: `Where is freedom when you cannot protect your children against Marxist and separatist teachings by some professor and your children are told you are a foul bourgeois and an exploiter?” – Roger Lemelin, President and Publisher of La Press, Montreal.

Recently the Quebec Ministry of Education has produced a combination of documents which amount to a detailed outline for a new history course. Since the new “Histoire Nationale” will be compulsory for all Quebec students wishing to obtain a high school leaving certificate, it would be valuable for all citizens and parents to know what it proposes to teach.

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