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Expanded electoral list for Franco-Manitoban school division

Jean-Vianney Auclair, Assistant Deputy Minister
Bureau de l’éducation française Division
Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning

2014-07-07

The Division scolaire franco-manitobaine (DSFM) has been examining innovative ways to open up its school trustee election process. Since the DSFM was created in the early 1990s, various adjustments have been made to its governance model in order to support its management structure and to better meet the aspirations of the Francophone community. For this reason, The Public Schools Act, as it relates to the DSFM, provided a mechanism from the very beginning that would permit a certain flexibility and make it possible to adjust the management structure by regulatory amendment instead of by an amendment to the Act, thus enabling a more streamlined process.

After various consultations with the Francophone community, the DSFM approached the government about expanding its list of potential electors. Until now, only parents with children enrolled in the DSFM were entitled to vote. The DSFM wanted to extend the right to vote to other classes of individuals, including DSFM graduates, parents of graduates, and parents of children enrolled in preschool programming.

On March 28, 2014, the government approved By-Law 159-13 of the DSFM and amended Regulation 202/93 so as to alter the electoral divisions of the DSFM and accommodate an expanded pool of potential electors. The DSFM list of eligible electors has now been expanded to include:

  • DSFM graduates who are at least 18 years of age and their parents or legal guardians;
  • DSFM students who are at least 18 years of age and their parents or legal guardians; and
  • the parents or guardians of children attending pre-kindergarten in the DSFM.

These amendments more than double the number of potential eligible voters and will therefore open the door to new participants in the electoral process and increase involvement among members of the DSFM’s school community. It is hoped that a larger number of electors will take part in this democratic exercise and thereby contribute to the discussions and debates surrounding the general orientation and direction of the Francophone education system in Manitoba.

The expansion of the electoral list was particularly well received by the Conseil jeunesse provincial (CJP), an organization representing French-speaking youth in Manitoba. In a letter addressed to the Premier and published in the weekly edition of La Liberté, CJP’s president, Justin Johnson, recently stated that the government’s decision to support the initiative represents “an important and positive gain for youth.” Mr. Johnson also mentioned CJP’s commitment to encourage youth to play an active role and use their voting rights in the upcoming election.

The next election of DSFM trustees will be held on October 15, 2014; there are 11 positions to be filled.