Quebec to hold public meetings during school days?

Photo: CTV

The Quebec premier is under fire after he suggested he would change the rules around his government holding public meetings when schools are in session and working on weekends.

Jean-Yves Duclos said he would be fine with a change if the government can “find an equivalent that respects the economy and the fundamental rights of the employees,” including teachers.

But Françoise David, president of the Quebec Federation of Teachers, and Pierre Lambert, president of the province’s largest teachers’ union, are telling Duclos to “back off.”

“You can’t in any way facilitate and understand compromises with a government whose prime objective is to cut teachers’ salaries and hurt working conditions,” David said.

The Quebec government is requiring teachers to show up at official government meetings at all times of the year — including during class hours and on weekends and holidays.

David said teachers would be charged with trying to prepare for meetings where classes aren’t happening, while also dealing with problems they’d need to find solutions for during school hours.

In the interview with CJAD Thursday night, Duclos expressed concern about lagging youth participation in politics in Quebec.

“Young people, if they are not voting, they don’t really understand the structures,” he said.

“If teachers don’t vote, they don’t understand how institutions work, how laws work, and they don’t really understand the fundamental values the parties represent.”

Duclos said there were a number of lawmakers from various parties who are inactive in the legislature.

“On the other hand, we have some very active members who are talking about the relationships of Quebec society,” he said.

The former economics minister, who is Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard’s right-hand man, said changes are needed to avoid a situation where laws are being passed without meaningful input from stakeholders.

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