PQ government tampering with temporary English-school access rights - QESBA President gives federal Minister Nicholson a failing grade on defense of military personnel stationed in Québec

MONTREAL, Feb. 25, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) President David D'Aoust called out federal Defense Minister Rob Nicholson today for his continued failure to intervene on behalf of military families temporarily stationed in Québec. The right of access for these families to English schooling in Quebec during their military employment - protected in Bill 101 ever since former Premier René Levesque insisted upon it - is now under attack by the current Parti Québécois government. "Despite our repeated and explicit interventions, Minister Nicholson and his department have yet to utter a single public word in defense of the families of the military in Quebec. In our firm view, there is no basis in law, none, to restrict the special right of military personnel, guaranteed in Bill 101, to attend English schooling in Quebec while employed by the military on a temporary basis. Official documents from Mr. Nicholson's own department confirm that every military deployment is, by its very nature, temporary. These dedicated individuals are ultimately in the employ of the Department of National Defense. They deserve more than silence from their Minister."

Over the past months, QESBA has been publicly challenging the Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport in Québec for its apparent plan to question military applicants for English-school access on their language spoken at home, their permanent residence and the circumstances of their military employment. None of those questions is remotely pertinent; given the dangerous, unpredictable and uncertain nature of military employment, there are no language, residency or nature-of-employment restrictions to the temporary exemption these individuals are afforded on schooling for their children. Last Fall, the PQ government withdrew its Bill 14 plan to erase this military exemption. They were forced to do so under public pressure. Ever since, QESBA has sounded the alarm as the PQ attempts to do bureaucratically what it failed to do legislatively.

There are some 750 students of military families registered on a temporary basis in English public schools at the moment. Others are seeking to register right now, and have been left in the dark about whether and how the exemption will now be applied. "This is unacceptable," noted Stephen Burke, Chair of the Central Québec School Board, where the bulk of those students study. "Our schools are offering these youngsters quality education in English and French. They have every right to continue to learn and grow with us - a right that their employer - the federal Department of National Defense - should be helping us protect."

QESBA is the voice of English public education in Quebec.

SOURCE: Quebec English School Boards Association

For further information:

Kim Hamilton, Director of Communications and Special Projects
(514) 849-5900, ext. 225/© (514) 919-3894

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