(Fair Disclosure: Brent Tyler is a good friend, whose campaign I am happy to support )Brent Tyler has been the last Anglo manning the barricades, defending our community against the relentless English language oppression of successive Quebec governments, (both separatist and federalist) which all believed and continue to believe that the French language in Quebec can only be advanced and protected by the humiliation and repression of all things English.
That repression has taken its toll on the English Montreal School Board which along with other English school boards have seen a disastrous drop in enrollment, due not only to demographics, but the constraints over eligibility since the introduction of Bill 101.
Most of us know of Brent Tyler for his relentless defense of all things English in the courts, many of his cases going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and many of those cases resulting in victories, although unfortunately, some Phyrric in nature.
For some in the English community Brent's long battle to defend English rights is a losing strategy and many among us would rather see our community grovel, content in throwing ourselves on the mercy of an unsympathetic government, begging for crumbs, like Moses impelling Pharaoh to let his people go.
But like Moses, at a certain point discussion becomes moot and action required.
Tyler's court battles have borne fruit and more importantly his tireless battles over Bill 101 reminds me of the sports metaphor which paraphrased translates as, 'keeping the government honest' or wary and hesitant of over-reaching in the face of the inevitable Tyler lawsuit.
Permit me a hockey metaphor where coaches teach and expect their players to 'finish their check', that is, to follow through with a crunching bodycheck even after the opposing players has released the puck. The message sent is that there is no 'free pass' and that the opposing player would be best to keep his head up and refrain from taking liberties, perhaps considering acting less aggressively in consideration of the coming hit.
Brent has been doing just that for decades, and I can only imagine the scene around several cabinet tables where oppressive language measures are considered and where the specter of Tyler hauling them into court, a real consideration.
As for the current Chairperson, Angela Mansini, she has been on the job too long, a tenure that has seen the board threatened with trusteeship by the government because of the utter dysfunction.
I have spent dozens of hours watching past EMSB board meetings which are available online and it is evident to this observer that things need to change.
Ms. Mancini runs the board autocratically, unwilling or unable to suffer perceived fools, she railroads her decisions through a combination of arrogance and bulldozing.
Ms. Mancini works in concert with the vice-chair, Sylvia Lo Bianco, the chairman's lap dog, a chihuahua who yips and barks at her master's beck and call, when not licking her boots.
It isn't pretty and plainly an embarrassment to the entire Anglo community.
Not all the problems can be laid at the chairperson and the vice-chair, the 23 elected members are too many, with many wasting time grandstanding and posturing. The cliques and alliances have hampered progress, but ultimately responsibility for the quagmire belongs to Ms. Mancini, who has been unable or unwilling to build bridges or create a consensus.
It was another demonstration of the political infighting that has dogged the school board since its inception in 1998.
This particular meeting ended abruptly, with many commissioners walking out.
The tension that night presumably didn't go unnoticed by the lawyer named by the Quebec government in February to help break the political logjam at the EMSB.
Tommaso Nanci's original mandate was from February to the end of April, but has since been extended more than once, most recently beyond a Dec. 8 end date.
These latest clashes raise questions about how much progress has been made at the EMSB's Council of Commissioners since he was appointed....
.... The council consists of 23 elected commissioners and two parent commissioners.......
.....The political infighting has come at a cost to taxpayers. As of July, the government had spent $100,200 for Nanci's services.
The board has also paid about $35,000 to its external ethics commissioner, a position school boards are required to have, since she was named in May 2007.....
.....Bernie Praw, a former teacher and principal who has been a commissioner since 1998, said he is disheartened by the board's dysfunction. Link
In the board’s early days, secrecy helped avoid unflattering media attention by cloaking unseemly “screaming matches and backstabbing” (Gazette, Nov. 16, 2003), but when secrecy returned after the 2007 elections (violating the council’s own internal rules), it backfired, producing a steady drumbeat of embarrassing headlines such as: “School board just doesn’t get it” (Gazette, Mar. 28, 2009), “School board’s secrecy cuts it off from the public” (Gazette: Feb. 16, 2008), “Culture of EMSB has to change; Bloc voting, secrecy and partisanship abound” (Feb 23, 2008) and “EMSB split on transparency issue” (Mar 24, 2008).Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 11:00 am, Bent Tyler will be holding an event on the steps of the EMSB school board office at 6000 Fielding (angle Cote St. Luc Road) to announce his candidacy.
A mature group of candidates, once elected and duly sworn in, should simply operate without controversy. Commissioners should willingly step into the glare of public scrutiny and conduct business in a transparent fashion, as do other elected officials.
Commissioners unable to do so should follow The Gazette’s prescription of resigning en masse to let more reasonable and able citizens stand for election. Link
I hope our community shows support and if you can turn out it would lend a certain gravitas to the event.
If anyone would like to help with the campaign, I'm sure Brent can use all the help he can get and so you can contact him through the FACEBOOK PAGE set up for the campaign.
Returning the EMSB back to its past days of glory is well nigh impossible, but it is important to preserve and protect our proud Anglo heritage and part of that obligation is supporting and nurturing our English school system.
I can't think of a better person to fight for that goal than Brent Tyler.