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Peter Black

Local Journalism Initiative reporter

peterblack@qctonline.com

The president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is facing a challenge for his job in an election to be held on Nov. 5.

Geoffrey Chambers, who is completing his first two-year term as president of the Quebec anglophone lobby group, will be up against Marlene Jennings, the current QCGN treasurer and former Liberal MP for the Montreal riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government appointed Jennings as trustee for the English Montreal School Board, which has been embroiled in controversy over contracts and disputes among commissioners. Her one-year term expires on Nov. 6.

The QCGN itself has been in turmoil in recent years, with many regional anglophone groups, including Quebec City’s Voice of English-speaking Québec (VEQ), splitting with the Montreal-based organization last October. In May, nine of those groups formed a new association, the Regional Development Network (RDN), headquartered in Quebec City. VEQ executive director Brigitte Wellens was elected president of RDN.

QCGN still represents several pan-provincial organizations of importance to the province’s anglophone community, including the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network and Quebec Community Newspapers Association, of which the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph is a member. In Quebec City, the Morrin Centre is a voting member of QCGN.

The race between Chambers and Jennings may hinge on the relationship each has with the CAQ government. Chambers has been outspoken in his criticism of the CAQ, in particular in regard to Bill 21 and its impact on religious minorities, and Bill 40, which would strip Quebec anglophones of historical rights to run their own school boards.

Jennings, a lawyer and the first Black woman from Quebec to be elected to the House of Commons, mused openly about running for the CAQ several years ago. She was recruited by the Legault government as a member of a panel investigating policing in Quebec.

Chambers has been a longtime advocate for the rights of anglophone Quebecers, as a founding member of the now-defunct Alliance Quebec lobby group. He has been a vice-president with the Quebec Liberal Party. According to the QCGN website, Chambers has “more recently … worked on projects which touched on the educational institutions his children were attending and health and social service policy.”

Nine candidates are running for eight positions on the QCGN board. Member organizations designate a voting delegate, with voting taking place by Zoom at a virtual annual general meeting.

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Photo from Twitter

Geoffrey Chambers is seeking a second term as QCGN president.



Photo from Twitter

Marlene Jennings, the current QCGN treasurer, is running for the presidency.

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