Is this Quebec school board election our last?

Posted 11.20.14

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Liberals in Quebec are questioning free-standing school boards, and proposing to close many down and centralize school management. The Couillard Liberals' centralization mantra is very old news -- most of the health system restructuring in the last decades was designed to combat the problems of a top-heavy bureaucracy, too far from the people it is mandated to serve.

This is less obvious a problem with the school boards because they have not proven to be as democratic and certainly not as transparent and consultative as we might wish.

This merger mantra is mistaken. Centralization is not always cost-effective. Forget "economies of scale," at least as applied to bureaucracies -- ask, for example, just about anyone who now lives in a merged city (a centralized administration for multiple cities). So, if "savings" are the government's only justification for these forced mergers, that government is merely pretending to be planning.

Furthermore, some services and ideals are more important than only their cost. Local control is one, bilingualism another. Our democracy must afford local control and bilingualism. English-language school boards, besides being a constitutional right, are another service more important than its final cost. That is not to say there are no savings to be had, or that whole layers of bureaucracy should not be peeled away. There are big savings that can be had.

One alternative to keeping essential services and keeping them nearby is to kiss the whole idea of democracy goodbye. That's the alternative most residents are supporting -- by not voting.

The government has clearly said it will measure the level of public support -- percentage of voters who bother to vote. If we open this door, we're to blame for the wrecking squads that come through. So this by-election in zone three (central Pontiac) is -- really -- our last chance to stop Coulliard's austerity axe. It takes about fifteen minutes to vote. Turn off the TV for fifteen minutes!

Zone 3 has two excellent candidates. Take your pick, but do pick.


Copyright © 2014 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/11.14