We certainly do.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I am the product of the education system, like my mother and my children. We live in Quebec, and I work there in both official languages. I belong to the community.
Education is a provincial jurisdiction, and it is important to note that Quebec's Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport has been an instrumental partner in this new and exciting venture. The roots and the core support for the community learning centre initiative remain nonetheless the fruits of federal languages support.
Third, our English public network, by force of distance, low population density, and limited resources, has become a laboratory for innovation and invention. Twenty-first century learning techniques for distance education, e-learning, shared programs and services, and exchanges with our French school board neighbours are just a few examples of our English public schools adapting to changing needs and challenges.
Our high school graduation rates are far above the Quebec average. Compassionate and forward-looking programs of inclusion for students with special needs are hallmarks of our school system. They are also made possible, we must remind you, through the funding and oversight of the Government of Canada.
Fourth, English public schools are contributing to and not working against the common future of all Quebeckers in our own province. While there remains a tendency within Canada's majority language communities—often exploited by the media and aggravated by certain political figures—to frame every question of language as a tug of war with a winner or loser, our English schools and the communities we serve are increasingly involved in contributing to the economic and cultural life of Quebec. Furthermore, they are actually contributing to the strength and security of the French language in Quebec. There need not be winners and losers on this matter.
As far as our concerns, support for and interest in the vitality and development of minority language communities has not always topped the list of priorities identified by Canadians or embraced by governments. Too often, and falsely, there is a perception that linguistic duality is a burden rather than a fundamental characteristic of Canada. English-speaking Quebec, in all its diversity, is among Canada's most bilingual communities, and becoming more so each day. That is an asset for the country, but assets must be nurtured.
Any weakening of the levels of federal support in future Canada-Quebec education accords, any lessening of the community's strong consultative role in decisions on the allocation of funds under those accords, any structural shift that would weaken, and any structural shift that would remove federal oversight over transferred funds for minority language education in Quebec would be of real and present concern to us.
Quebec enjoys a legislative regime of English and French school boards, elected by universal suffrage. While there are some questions about the status and timing of those elections, we remain confident in the future of this vital level of local government that is so important to our community. But the political winds often shift in Quebec, and a vigilant and solid federal government regime of official language support is a beacon that must not fade.