Quebec’s English school boards have won an important battle in their fight against Bill 40, the Quebec government’s ‘Act to amend the Education Act with regard to school organization and governance’. The act would have put an end to school boards in the province and replace them with ‘Service Centres’, taking away ‘a minority community’s rights to manage and control their institutions’.
On May 15th 2020, the QESBA along with co-applicants Adam Gordon (Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board Parent Committee Chairman) and the Lester B. Pearson School Board, filed an ‘interlocutory injunction and judicial review’ in Quebec Superior Court. On August 10th, a Quebec Superior Court Justice, ruled that ‘the plan raised serious questions pertaining to the constitutionality of Bill 40’. He also ruled that the disappearance of English-language school boards ‘constituted irreparable harm’. The CAQ government appealed the decision, hoping to move forward with their plans, but on Thursday September 17th, the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the school boards by deciding that’ Bill 40 should remain suspended as it applies to them’.
In a release issued by the QESBA, President Dan Lamoureux states, ‘We are very pleased with the decision today by the Quebec Court of Appeal that maintains the stay on the suspension of the application of Bill 40 to English school boards pending a decision on the merits of the case in Superior Court. Given the urgent nature of this file and its importance in the protection and enforcement of the constitutional rights of the English-speaking community to control and manage our school system, we will fully co-operate with all parties to speed this case along in as timely a manner as possible’.
Three judges at the Quebec Court of Appeal have stated ‘that given that the changes in school governance resulting from Bill 40 appear, at first glance at least, to withdraw powers of management and control from the English school boards and limit the eligibility of the members of the official language minority of Quebec for elected positions in the new school service centres, in this case the public interest leans in favour of protecting the rights of the official linguistic minority rather than implementing Bill 40 in the English educational sector, at least until there is a judgment on the merits’. The school boards also contended that Bill 40 ‘subverts a key public institution and governance structure that is run both by and for the Quebec English-speaking community’ and that the ‘legislations restricts the powers of all service centres’. With the suspension, they will now be able to hold elections to the existing school boards and not the service centres.