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  • Writer's pictureHunter Cresswell

English school boards pleased with stay on Bill 40

The judge argued Bill 40 did not respect the charter

By Stuart Benson

The Quebec English School Boards Association is celebrating the judgement in favour of a stay on Bill 40 by Quebec Superior Court Justice Sylvain Lussier on Aug. 10.

QESBA and its co-applicants filed for an interlocutory injunction, or a stay, in May to suspend the application of Bill 40 — an Act to amend mainly the Education Act with regard to school organization and governance. They argued that the new model does not respect section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to manage and control minority language educational institutions.

The Québec Superior Court said it found that the applicants had raised “very serious questions” pertaining to the Bill’s constitutionality. The court also said it found that the disappearance of English-language school boards constituted irreparable harm.

“We are very pleased with the decision today which has the effect of suspending the application of Bill 40 to English school boards pending a decision on the merits of the case,” wrote QESBA president Dan Lamoureux in a press release Aug. 10. “Given the very limited amount of time our boards have to organize school elections, scheduled for Nov. 1, we are hopeful that the government will not appeal this decision.”

QESBA was not the only group to come out in support of the court's decision.

On Aug. 12, APPELE-Québec, a broad-based alliance that promotes the continued existence of English school boards governed by school board commissioners, released a statement signed by chairman Geoffrey Kelley, and vice-chairs Joan Fraser and Kevin Shaar, asking the Quebec government not to appeal the decision.

“Quebec’s Superior Court has done the provincial government a favour by suspending its law abolishing English school boards,” the letter opens. “Our advice to Premier François Legault now is three-fold: Do not appeal the judgement, postpone the elections scheduled for Nov. 1, and extend the terms of school commissioners correspondingly.”

APPELE-Québec wrote that they have tried to work with the government, meeting with the ministers of education and democratic institutions, testifying before the National Assembly committee on Bill 40, and writing to the premier and the director general of elections, but so far their efforts have been fruitless.

“We remain willing to sit down and work out a modus vivendi until the final court ruling,” APPELE-Québec wrote about trying to achieve a workable agreement until a final settlement is reached. “That would be far more productive than an appeal, which would prolong uncertainty or an inappropriate rush to elections.”

A date for the first Quebec Superior Court hearing on the bill's constitutionality has not been set.


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