Opposition to Bill 96 not welcome in Ensemble Montreal, as Joe Ortona ejected from the party and its slate for Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Following last week’s announcement of the English-Montreal School Board’s opposition (to Bill 96), “to the reform of the French language and denying the Quebec nation,” Ensemble Montréal decided to immediately exclude candidate Joe Ortona from its caucus, Montreal Mayoralty candidate Denis Coderre said in a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon.
The party leader said the EMSB’s position is “unacceptable. The protection of the French language is one of our fundamental values: we have demonstrated this publicly on several occasions, notably with our request for the creation of a Conseil de la langue française. I recognize Quebec as a nation, as does our political party. The document of the English-Montreal School Board, chaired by Mr. Ortona, is totally against the values of our party.” Coderre’s statement also notes that Ortona “never informed the Ensemble Montréal team and its leader of his intentions with regard to this latest position.”
In announcing his candidacy earlier this summer, much was mentioned by the Ensemble Montréal team about Ortona’s leadership and success defending the English community against the Quebec government’s school board reform measures. For the last few weeks, Ortona's candidacy raised eyebrows in the west end of Montreal's most populous borough, many residents taking offence to the former mayor’s choosing an east-ender to run in the district, and one that is already heavily implicated in public affairs, raising the possibility of multiple conflicts of interest that could slow progress and require numerous recusals on files and debates, something legislators in Quebec City have taken note of and are considering for reform.
It was only days ago that some parents at an NDG elementary school reported that Ortona was seen posing for photographs on the first day back with the local Ensemble Montréal candidates, mere meters from the head office of the board over which he presides.Ortona’s name and photo are withdrawn from the Ensemble Montréal website. The party's new candidate in Loyola is former Loyola candidate Gabriel Retta, but as of press time his name and photo were not up either.