At campaign launch, Bloc Montreal pledges to repeal Bill 96

Balarama Holness started his campaign at Dawson College, pledging to undo François Legault's decision to ax the CEGEP's expansion project.

Bloc Montreal, the party of former Montreal mayoral candidate Balarama Holness, chose the grounds of Dawson College to launch its campaign for the provincial election on Monday.
The English-language CEGEP became a symbol in the battle over Bill 96 when Premier François Legault announced his government was shelving the school's long-planned expansion project in favor of funding French-language colleges in the province.
“We have a provincial government that has imposed on us Bill 96, a bill that disproportionately affects anglophones, allophones, immigrants, Indigenous populations and students,” Holness said of the choice of venue for his party's campaign launch. Bloc Montreal, he added, will fight to resurrect the Dawson expansion project.
“That's why we're here today, particularly at Dawson College, to stand up for the rights of not just students here at Dawson College, but for all anglophone CEGEPs and public schools that are disenchanted with the way that the provincial government is funding, or the lack of funding for our institutions.”
The party is advocating for the repeal of Bill 96, sweeping legislation that overhauls the Charter of the French Language, in its entirety, Holness said. The legislation includes a measure that was proposed by the Liberal Party of Quebec to require anglophone students at English CEGEPs, and not just francophone and allophone students, to take three courses in French to graduate form CEGEP. The Liberals backpedaled on the idea, which had already been approved by the National Assembly committee studying the bill, after administrators of several English CEGEPs said it would affect the success of students. The measure eventually became three additional French second-language courses or three core courses in French.
Holness said the Liberals' idea to require the three French courses for non-francophone CEGEP students “is one clear hint of the difference between Bloc Montreal and the Liberal Party of Quebec.”
The Liberals ended up voting against Bill 96.
Bloc Montreal has previously announced key parts of its platform, which include:
  • That 20 per cent of the Quebec Sales Tax that's generated in the Montreal region be given to the city of Montreal. The estimated revenue is $2 billion a year.
  • A $5 congestion fee charged on vehicles of non-Montreal residents who enter the island. Among other things, the estimated $500 million generated by the fee annually would serve to maintain and improve infrastructure in Montreal and help in the party's goal to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2040.
  • Rendering Montreal's public transit system free during morning and afternoon rush hours.
  • Fighting to have Bill 21, Bill 32, Bill 40 and Bill 96 repealed as “fundamentally undemocratic and anti-Montreal.”
  • Depoliticizing immigration policy by conducting an annual, objective and politically independent assessment of how many and what type of immigrants are needed in each region of Quebec.
  • Abolishing the health department's Regional Physician Resource Plans (PREMs) in family medicine, which establishes the number of family physicians assigned to each region of the province. Bloc Montreal contends the PREMs penalize Montreal.
  • Fighting for tighter regulation of AirBnBs and other short-term rentals and for a “rent register” to ease the housing crisis.
  • Advocating for electoral reform so that 65 of the 125 National Assembly seats would be chosen according to proportional representation using regional lists. Legault and his Coalition Avenir Québec broke their promise to launch electoral reform in the last mandate, Holness said.
  • Bloc Montreal, which is so far running 14 candidates, also unveiled its campaign slogan: “United for our city.”
    Holness said the CAQ government's policies in health care, language and education have “disproportionately affected” Montreal.
    The former Alouettes football player also said his team is planning to campaign door-to-door in the constituencies where he's fielding candidates, including one riding in Laval.
    “What is politics? It's nothing more than connecting with people, engaging with people,” Holness said.
    “Posters do not win elections. Connecting with people wins elections and we'll do our best to do that.”


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