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Hearings begin for Quebec bill that aims to abolish school board elections

Moreau happy with Bill 86 hearings
WATCH ABOVE: Quebec's education minister Pierre Moreau said he's happy with how the hearings on school board reform are going.

QUEBEC CITY – The Commission scolaire de Montreal and its parents committee will be the first two groups to appear at public hearings on Bill 86 in Quebec City.

READ MORE: EMSB applauds decision to be included in Bill 86 hearings

Quebec’s Liberal government has proposed to do away with school board elections; more than 50 groups are expected to speak on the issue.

WATCH: Bill 86 hearings begin in Quebec City.

The minority Anglophone community has come out to oppose Bill 86 because it insists its ability to govern school systems would be compromised.

READ MORE: Possible school board reforms pose no threat to Anglophones: Birnbaum

The government argued it would centralise public school management and put teachers, parents and students at the helm of the decision-making process.

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“I remain convinced that this bill will not compromise that management control,” said David Birnbaum, former executive director of the Quebec English School Board Association (QESBA) and current Liberal MNA for D’Arcy McGee.

“That there will be room for us to do this right while making things better.”

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QESBA has been invited to speak at the hearings, but the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) and the Comission Scolaire de Montreal (CSDM), the largest French board in Quebec, had not initially been asked to participate.

READ MORE: More English voices need to be heard at Bill 86 hearings, says QCGN

At the time, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) said the government was stacking the cards to garner support for its project to change the way school boards are managed.

“The government wants control of who it listens to and therefore who will give support to them in their view,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge with the QCGN.

“So, it’s a way of deciding what the outcome of the bill will be.”

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The Anglophone community found an unlikely ally in the National Assembly, when Parti Québécois leader Pierre Karl Péladeau accused the Liberal government of not respecting its rights when it comes to Bill 86.

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READ MORE: English education advocates go on the offensive over Bill 86

The hearings were expected to begin last month, but were delayed after the Liberal cabinet shuffle and new Education Minister Pierre Moreau suffered unexpected health problems.

Public hearings will continue on Thursday.

As it stands, the bill is expected to become law on July 1.