Quebec’s Court of Appeal decided on Thursday that Bill 40 — the education reform law — will not apply to English school boards in the province.
“It’s a victory for minority rights,” said former MNA and head of APPELE Québec Geoff Kelley.
The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld a stay issued in early August to English school boards challenging the province’s education reform legislation.
Under Bill 40, Quebec school boards are replaced with service centres. The law was passed in February and the Legault government invoked closure.
It also eliminates elections in the French-language system for members of those service centres. English school boards were however given the right to continue to hold democratic elections and were given until November to shift to service centres.
The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) and other groups, however, 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.
On Thursday, the Court of Appeal judged that the public interest is better served by protecting linguistic minority rights over implementing the law in the English educational sector — at least until the full case can be argued in court.
The panel of justices wrote that Bill 40 appears to transfer control from the English school boards to the province, and that the legislation appears to limit many members of the English-speaking community from seeking elected positions on the boards of the new 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 appeals court ruled.