Quebec’s English-speaking community is reflecting on what they call a “clear victory” for English-language minority education rights.
This, after a Quebec Superior Court judge struck down parts of the province’s controversial education reform known as Bill 40.
It took almost three years for a decision, but Quebec’s English-speaking community is relieved it’s status quo.
“Since the beginning, QPAT has even advised the ministry to say this is not a good way to go,” said Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers president Steven LeSuer.
“It’s a huge win for the English-speaking community,” he added.
On Wednesday Justice Sylvain Lussier ruled that several sections of Bill 40 can’t be applied to English school boards, including those that set limits on who can run for election and sit on the boards.
“This will reaffirm the rights that parents have, that we as a community are able to control and manage our own school system,” said Liberal MNA Greg Kelley, who is also the official critic for relations with English-Speaking Quebecers. He added the English school boards have proven they can work in an asymmetrical system alongside Francophone service centres.
“We’ve gone through a pandemic with it, we’ve continued to see student success at higher rates than the Quebec average in English school boards, so it’s still working. Why not leave it that way?”
English Montreal School Board Chair Joe Ortona is thrilled with the decision.
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“The government took the very wrong approach of thinking that education is strictly of provincial jurisdiction and that they can basically do what they want,” said Ortona.
In his 125-page decision, Lussier also found that the Quebec government failed to meaningfully consult the English-speaking community about the law.
“They should have invited us to sit down at the table,” said Ortona. “What we should have seen if they wanted to make any changes regarding education was to start by identifying actual problems,” he added.
Ortona along with Kelley and LeSueur hope the decision sticks and school boards can get back to what’s really important.
“Student success, making sure we have teachers in the classrooms and making sure that our schools have all the resources that are necessary,” said Kelley.
Quebec’s justice minister Simon Jolin-Barrette says they have taken note of the decision and will analyze the possibility of appealing, but would not comment any further.
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