Quebec Premier François Legault is vowing to appeal a court ruling granting a stay to English school boards challenging his government’s education reform legislation.
“We will contest this judgment,” he told reporters Thursday.
“We think that Bill 40 is well-founded and that we are allowed to change the school boards for service centres, especially that for anglophones we will continue to have elections for some members of the board.”
The contentious law, which was passed in February after the Legault government invoked closure, abolishes Quebec school boards in favour of service centres.
Under Bill 40, general elections were eliminated for schools within the French-language system. However, English-language service centres still retain the right to hold democratic elections and were given until November to shift to service centres.
On Monday, Quebec Superior Court ruled in favour of groups seeking to stay the application of the law in English school boards until a full legal challenge could be heard.
The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) and other groups filed an injunction in May, challenging the governance plan on the basis it doesn’t respect Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The section guarantees minority language educational rights to English-speaking minorities in Quebec.
In his ruling, Judge Sylvain Lussier agreed that the legislation impinges on constitutional anglophone minority rights.
“Abolished by law, English-language school boards, spokespersons for the minority, will suffer irreparable damage if the law comes into force,” Lussier wrote.
QESBA welcomed the ruling earlier this week, saying in a statement that it was “very pleased” with the outcome and hoped the government won’t appeal.
A court date for the first hearing on the constitutionality of the legislation has not yet been set.
— With files from Global News’ Alessia Simona Maratta and the Canadian Press