The Gleaner

Appeals court rules English boards are exempt from parts of Bill 101

A Quebec Superior Court judgement that suspended parts of the Charter of the French Language still stands, after a Quebec appeals court judge rejected challenges to the ruling by the Quebec government on May 31. As a result, school boards may continue to communicate in English with other anglophone organizations until the courts officially rule on a legal challenge to Bill 96.

According to a report in the Montreal Gazette, Judge Geneviève Marcotte dismissed an application to appeal by Quebec’s attorney general and the Office québécoais de la langue française in a nine-page ruling. This means English boards remain exempt from six articles of Bill 101 relating to communication, contracts, and the provision of services, for the time being.

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is behind the challenge to Bill 96 and the request for a stay. The New Frontiers School Board (NFSB) holds intervenor status in this case, along with the Quebec English School Boards Association and the province’s six other English school boards. “The judge said there’s no urgency in the situation that can’t wait,” explains John Ryan, the chair of the council of commissioners for the NFSB. He suggests the ruling is another positive sign the courts are recognizing the English community’s right to govern and manage its education system.

The judge also ruled that the EMSB may challenge a part of the Superior Court ruling that equates English school boards to school service centres. “There is no comparison at all,” says Ryan, who points out school boards are run by a council that is democratically elected, while service centres are governed by a board with much less influence and a government-appointed director general.

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