QESBA files legal action – Although the announcement was made amid the ongoing pandemic, the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) had little option but to move forward with their legal challenge against the CAQ’s Bill 40. The ‘Act to amend mainly the Education Act with regard to school organization and governance’, basically puts an end to school boards in the province and replaces then with ‘Service Centres’.
Bill 40 created controversy when it was first introduced in the National Assembly last October 2019 by Education Minister Jean-François Roberge. It was passed through on February 8th 2020 when the government invoked closure, basically leaving no time for the opposition parties to debate the Bill. The QESBA held back on their legal challenge – but with school elections scheduled for November, they have officially filed the action.
A May 28th statement on the QESBA website reads:
‘The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) has filed legal action on Bill 40: An Act to amend mainly the Education Act with regard to school organization and governance following our announcement in February. QESBA along with co-applicants Adam Gordon (Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board Parent Committee Chairman) and the Lester B. Pearson School Board, filed for an interlocutory injunction and judicial review in Quebec Superior Court on May 15, 2020.
“We recognize that the filing of this legal action is not ideal under the current circumstances. This should not come as a surprise as we publicly announced our intention to file this action accompanied by all of our education and community partners last February. It has, however, become a pressing matter due to the looming November school elections and the deadlines surrounding the legal requirements and logistics of these elections,” said QESBA President Dan Lamoureux.
“Furthermore, we are collectively facing an on-going pandemic which is making the planning for and potentially the holding of these elections complicated for School Boards.”
“QESBA along with our education partners requested in writing to the Minister of Education and the Minister of Justice a postponement of these elections in light of the current situation in Québec and we were told that they would move ahead and hold the November elections regardless. We, therefore, felt that we had no choice but to move forward at this time based on our minority community’s rights to manage and control our institutions as prescribed in Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” concluded the President’.
Bill 40 violates the constitutional rights of Quebec’s English-speaking minority to manage their schools. The QESBA and several other Anglophone organizations are prepared to fight for that right. Check back with the Montreal Times for future updates.