Jean-François Lisée joins Equality Party: Good omen for anglos?

Jean-François Lisée Equality Party

Jean-François Lisée waves to an excited but skeptical crowd at an Equality Party event on Monday morning in Westmount.

By now you’ve heard the news announced this morning that Jean-François Lisée, the Quebec minister responsible for anglophones, has pulled a reverse Richard Holden and quit his party and cushy job to join the resurrected Equality Party as its only current MNA.

While surprising to some, and certainly a gutsy move to go from being in the government to being a one-man party, the move comes as much less of a surprise to people who have followed Lisée and his actions over the past few months.

From his appearances at anglophone events to his secret meetings with important figures in the anglophone community, Lisée became fast friends with key people in the community. And though they were very skeptical of what he had to say as the official turd polisher of the Parti Québécois, the mood changed significantly in the past few weeks. Some anglo leaders started to speak of Lisée as the one good guy at the PQ.

As anglos became more comfortable with Lisée, the other side became less so. Lisée’s thinly-veiled attacks on fellow minister Diane de Courcy (responsible for language policy) certainly didn’t earn him too many friends, nor did his suggestion that the STM be bilingual. His public comments earned the minister a lemon prize from language group Impératif français.

According to people with knowledge of PQ cabinet discussions, Lisée was even more disagreeable behind closed doors, questioning language policies, pleading for the party to kill Bill 14 and even questioning some of the fundamentals of Bill 101.

His views don’t represent a complete reversal of position. Lisée was famously responsible for a speech Lucien Bouchard gave at the Centaur Theatre saying anglos are an important part of Quebec. The speech, and statements contained in it, were not universally accepted among his colleagues.

It remains to be seen just how militant Lisée will be on the other side. Will he call for the repeal of the Quebec language charter and all special protections for the French language? So far, all he’s said is that he wants both languages to be equally protected in Quebec (he said something similar at the CBC’s recent Living English event, though to the guffaws of the crowd). He also said the fight for French isn’t over, and that he will work hard to ensure language equality in other provinces as well. (I guess that means he’s a federalist now too?)

The other question is whether Premier Pauline Marois will replace Lisée. Clearly he’s no longer a minister. Will she name someone else as minister responsible for anglophones, or will she decide not to, for fear that someone else might be turned to the dark side?

The standings

With Lisée’s defection, the National Assembly is left with 53 PQ members, 50 Liberals (including speaker Jacques Chagnon), 19 CAQ members, the two Québec solidaire MNAs and Lisée’s Equality Parti/Parti Égalité. It doesn’t shift the balance of power, but it does make things tougher for the PQ.

6 thoughts on “Jean-François Lisée joins Equality Party: Good omen for anglos?

  1. Lorne

    Did you hear the news, Stephen Harper has quit as PM to join a new party in the House Of Commons to be called the Alberta Block? They will fight for Alberta independance. Peter Mackay is expected to be appointed interim PM to replace him pending a leadership convention this summer.

  2. matthew britton

    If this is true, i categorically misjudged Lisee. Glad to see people can learn equality late in life. racial slavery didnt end overnight. but together, we can end “Linguistic slavery” in quebec, and be free. maybe when all is said and done, quebec sovereignists will learn to speak real french….

    1. rosanne kairns

      HI Hugo,

      I was at the meeting on sunday, I’m stunned about the New’s, alway’s though he wasn’t as bad as the rest, I trust you’s guy’s trust him, cause the CAQ I believe this was set up year’s ago, when it came up to vote again this guy break’s apart from the P.Q. and get’s friendly with the ENGLISH.. start’s a party CAQ , SPLIT’S the English vote, hope this is not part 2 of their plan.?



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