MONTREAL, Oct. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's Conservative government should
reinstate the Court Challenges Program in next week's Throne Speech, the
Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) declared in a statement
released this morning. The Program supports legal research and court
interventions by minority-language and equality groups seeking to ensure their
rights and freedoms under the Quebec and Canadian Charters. Funding for the
Program was summarily cancelled by the Harper government last year. Canada's
Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, ruled that the decision was
made without the legally required consultation of the key groups concerned.
"The Court Challenges Program is a vital tool in our continuing efforts
to secure the long-term stability of English schools, and thus the
English-speaking community of Quebec," noted Marcus Tabachnick, QESBA
President. "We have been joined by francophone community organizations,
jurists from across the country and just about every provincial and
territorial government in Canada in calling for the reversal of this bad
decision. It's time to fix it."
Thanks largely to Court Challenges support over the past quarter century,
Canada's English and French-speaking minority communities have secured the
essential right to control and manage their own school boards. Such control
and management is vital to the stability and growth of those communities.
Furthermore, Quebec's linguistic minority faces the ongoing problem of
severely restricted access to English public schools in the province. In fact,
a major case regarding access, the Bill 104 case, is expected to find its way
to the Supreme Court within the next year or so. An eventual intervention in
that kind of minority-language rights case would likely be eligible for Court
"The Quebec and Canadian Charters outline fundamental rights and freedoms
belonging to all citizens," Tabachnick said. "If minorities are to be afforded
the full protections of those Charters, they must have equitable access to the
Courts. As we stand now, the Conservative government has stifled that access.
Only the restoration of the Court Challenges Program will fix the problem. We
will be watching on October 16th."
For further information:
For further information: Kim Hamilton, Communications and Special
Projects Coordinator, (514) 849-5900, ext.: 225