Student lobby group divided on extending language laws to CEGEPs

Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec can’t find consensus on issue of restricting access to English-language colleges

Quebec’s largest CEGEP student lobby group won’t be taking a stance on calls by the Parti Québécois for the province to extend language restrictions to the colleges.

The 23 student associations of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec debated the issue at the organization’s general assembly, last weekend. But after a “heated debate,” the group was unable to reach a consensus.

FÉCQ president Léo Bureau-Blouin, who was reelected to a second term at the assembly, told the Montreal Gazette that debate over the PQ proposal split the group down the middle, and that, “we haven’t closed the door on the idea … But for now, we’d like to proceed with measures [to promote French] that are more consensual.”

According to a FÉCQ press release, the group would like to see improvements to second-language instruction in CEGEPs, along with programs to help non-francophones in Montreal get jobs in French. The group says that these proposals would help preserve the French language without creating “deep divisions,” like the PQ proposal.

Quebec currently restricts access to English-language primary and secondary schools, forcing francophones and new immigrants, along with their descendants, into the French-language system. The PQ has called for these restrictions to be extended to CEGEPs. Students in Quebec, who graduate high school after grade 11, must attend CEGEP before they can attend university; the colleges also provide vocational programs.