Constitutional case over bilingual school busing in New Brunswick gets underway

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick school bus debate prepares to go before Court of Appeals'
New Brunswick school bus debate prepares to go before Court of Appeals
WATCH ABOVE: Preliminary steps have been taken in the New Brunswick Court of Appeal to answer the question of whether the province needs separate bus service for French and English speaking students. Jeremy Keefe reports – Feb 16, 2016

The case to determine whether New Brunswick is required to continue splitting school bus services for English and French students got underway in Fredericton on Tuesday.

The procedural hearing addressed a need for concerned parties to step forward as interveners, individuals and groups who can attest one way or the other to the subject matter.

READ MORE: Horizon Health hospitals auditing bilingual patient services

“They could shed light on the issues and I would like the Attorney General to apply his mind to which organizations might fall within that category,” Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau said.

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The government is asking the Court of Appeal whether there is a constitutional obligation to provide separate school buses for English and French schools.

Kris Austin, leader of New Brunswick’s People’s Alliance party. said the status quo is unacceptable.

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“This type of segregation that’s going on in New Brunswick, it has to stop,” he said. “I think if we can get all arguments out and hear both sides and have a decision rendered, that is what we need today desperately.”

He said all students should receive the same treatment and praised the Court of Appeal for reviewing the case.

Drapeau said costs should not prevent interveners from participating and suggested the province might need to foot the bill for successful applicants.

Attorney General Serge Rousselle will provide a written response by May 13, which will steer the following hearing that’s scheduled for May 24.

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