No propaganda in schools

Parlons de souveraineté à l’école

Editorial - Teachers have joined with provincial politicians - from Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair to Liberal Premier Jean Charest - in condemning a proposal to indoctrinate Quebec students on the benefits of sovereignty.
As grateful as we are that people in positions of power and influence recognize a propaganda effort when they see one, it's still alarming that a quasi-public organization would even put forward such an idea.
It was the Council for Quebec Sovereignty, established in December 2002 with a $200,000 grant from the PQ, that issued the "pedagogical" guide this week.
The book, which runs to 142 pages, was intended for use in all Quebec's classrooms, from kindergarten to university. Called Let's Talk About Sovereignty in School, it was funded, in a bizarre twist, in part by the Canada Council of the Arts, with support from Ottawa's Book Publishing Industry Development Program.
It begins with this ringing call to action: "In Quebec, 165,000 people work within the education network. With 165,000 people, we can forge Quebec's future!"
Does the tone remind you of anything? Comrades! Let us all work harmoniously together toward the glorious day of total victory!
This rubbish would be bad enough if the council were a lonely little outfit that existed solely in cyberspace and was known only to its own small handful of true believers. But that is far from being the case.
The council came into being at the initiative of then-Premier Bernard Landry. It is headed by former labour leader Gerald Larose. The president of the PQ, Monique Richard, is a council member and, according to a report in another newspaper, had a hand in the document. She is also the former head of the teachers' union. Former PQ vice-president Marie Malavoy is a council member, as are current Bloc Quebecois MPs Vivian Barbot and Pierre Paquette. This is a sovereignist project, plain and simple.
The crudeness of the effort is as alarming as the existence of it. Elementary-school students would, for example, be asked to tackle the following arithmetic problem: In an independent Quebec, how many $15 books could be bought for a school library with the $9,430,000 that is given as Quebec's share of the governor-general's expenses? That the current governor-general is a francophone Quebecer goes unmentioned.
Another subject in the activity book concerns "peace," that holiest of bovines. After providing some information about federal defence spending, the book establishes (to its satisfaction, at least) that an independent Quebec would have $4 billion to promote peace.
Another page shows a child's drawing of a Canadian flag being torn in half, at a Fete Nationale celebration.
This "guide" is, in sum, a flagrant bid to brainwash Quebec's youth. At some point in their education, students certainly need to be introduced to "la question nationale," but not by this sort of odious distortion of the learning process.
We hope this blatant attempt to pervert the school system will help more Quebecers to realize the depths of dishonesty of some in the sovereignist camp. We also hope the council will apologize to Quebecers, and promise to avoid such tactics in future.

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