François Legault’s first Inaugural Address as premier was both encouraging and disappointing.
It called for “courage” to do to things differently, a repeat of the Coalition Avenir Québec’s electoral program, which gave the party a strong majority. We applaud his intention to make education a priority, increase budgets for teachers’ salaries and introduce pre-kindergarten classes throughout Quebec.
How this will proceed, including overcoming widespread opposition to his plan to scrap school boards, remains to be seen. Where will he get the 5,000 additional pre-K teachers? What effect will this plan have on the present vast and affordable pre-school network?
On seniors, we await concrete plans on creating alternatives to the existing network of long-term care facilities.
Our greatest disappointment was the repeated pledge, bolstered by opinion surveys indicating broad support for a ban on the wearing of religious symbols by state employees including teachers, in positions of authority. This backward and unnecessary move runs counter to fundamental rights and freedoms.
Certainly, it will be challenged in court. Even though a majority supports it, reflecting irrational fears and prejudices, we call on the Quebec government to demonstrate moral leadership and say no.
Democracy – the tyranny of the majority – must be tempered by fundamental values.