Home Local News ‘We’re never going to do a referendum,’ says Christopher Skeete

‘We’re never going to do a referendum,’ says Christopher Skeete

Sainte-Rose CAQ MNA wants to allay fears his party’s a disguised PQ

‘We’re never going to do a referendum,’ says Christopher Skeete
Seen here on Nov. 26 at the Agape English-Speaking Senior Wellness Centre, Sainte-Rose CAQ MNA Christopher Skeete, right, is greeted by Agape executive-director Kevin McLeod with Chomedey Independent MNA Guy Ouellette behind them.
Martin C. Barry

Responding to comments voiced by some seniors during a recent visit to the Agape English-Speaking Senior Wellness Centre, Coalition Avenir Québec Sainte-Rose MNA Christopher Skeete said he feels the “uneasiness” of some English-speakers who see the CAQ as a party like the Parti Québécois– although he disagrees with the comparison.

“I would disagree, because I am certainly not in the PQ,” said Skeete, who is head the new CAQ government’s Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers. He was paying his first visit to the Wellness Centre on Notre Dame Blvd. in Chomedey on Nov. 26 since being elected in the Oct. 1 provincial election.

Aware of ‘uneasiness’

“I feel your uneasiness,” added Skeete, while maintaining that the CAQ is so unlike the PQ that it has committed itself to never holding a referendum on Quebec separation. “All I can say is they put an English-speaking Quebecer like myself, who grew up in the English school system, who is brown, and they put him in a leadership role to speak to the English community.

“We have an article one in our party that says that we’re never going to do a referendum, and that our solution is a hundred percent in Canada. I don’t know how else to convince you, except to just watch us go. Just watch us go and let us prove you wrong.”

Executive-director’s view

Agape executive-director Kevin McLeod, who accompanied Skeete to the Wellness Centre following a tour of Agape’s main facilities a block away on Notre Dame Blvd., waded into the debate regarding the CAQ’s position on sovereignty referendums.

“On our way over here, as we were crossing the street,that was part of the conversation: how true is this government to the needs of the English-speaking,” he said. “And as Mr. Skeete stated several times today,he’s here today, within a month of being in office he’s already come to see us,he’s on the record saying that the CAQ government doesn’t want to go there. And article one, as you’ve said, is they’re not going for a referendum, which makes me feel a lot better. But I think it’s one of our main concerns, the referendum.”

‘Just watch us,’ says Skeete

Skeete continued, “Nothing I say will convince you that there’s not going to be some kind of a referendum in the dark when you guys aren’t watching. All I can say is just watch us go. And I promise you will not be disappointed in that regard.”

Following the meeting, McLeod said the most exciting news he heard from Skeete was that the CAQ government had decided to continue the Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers (see Laval News Dec. 5), which was started by the previous government.

The right thing, McLeod says

“That was a big home run for me that he mentioned that,” said McLeod, noting that the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) serving English-speaking Quebecers will thus continue to benefit from provincial funding. “Also that he said no referendum as part of article one is also something that was important.

“But just to see what the CHSSN is doing with that money – because a lot of the funding was given to the CHSSSN to distribute. The smartest thing they could have done was allocate that money to the CHSSN. Because now the 22-something networks across Quebec are going to be able to use that money to better serve English-speakers. It’s there to do translations of documents, outreach to English-speakers. It’s great.”