QESBA seeking intervention in Federal Court - Harper government fails Quebec's English schools in dropping funding of Court Challenges Program



    MONTREAL, Feb. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - The Quebec English School Boards
Association (QESBA) has filed a motion and an affidavit with the Federal Court
of Canada seeking to intervene in support of a case against the federal
government for its decision to eliminate funding to the Court Challenges
Program of Canada (CCP). This essential program was dropped by the Harper
government with no demonstrable consultation of any kind with the linguistic
minority or equality groups whose members most benefitted from it. The CCP was
designed to afford all Canadians equal access to the courts to defend and test
the extent of their rights and privileges under the Canadian Constitution as
well as the Quebec Charter of Rights.
    "QESBA has spoken to Parliamentary Commissions, we've written to the
Prime Minister, we've made the arguments, we've issued news releases, and his
government has not seen fit to correct a fundamental mistake it inflicted on
Quebec's English-speaking community, and on Canada's minority francophone
communities living outside of Quebec," said QESBA President Debbie Horrocks.
"Our remaining recourse is to seek our day in Court. Those of us who control
and manage English schools in Quebec -- and the students and parents who are
served by them -- need to know that we have continued access to a program that
will allow us to test our rights before the courts, if and when we have to.
That is what the Court Challenges Program is all about. Our view is shared by
minority and equality groups across the country, by the other major parties in
the House of Commons and by the government of Quebec."
    A judge will hear QESBA's request at a private hearing by teleconference
on Monday, February 18th. The other parties to the case, the Fédération des
communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, which is the applicant; the
Commissioner of Official Languages, accepted by the Court as an Intervener;
and the federal government, as defendant, are all invited to be present at the
hearing.
    Me Michael Bergman, legal counsel to QESBA on this matter, will argue
that the school board association's intervention would add the unique and
pertinent perspective of Quebec's English-speaking minority community to the
Court's consideration of this fundamental question of federal responsibility
to support the vitality and development of Canada's linguistic minorities.
"There is a crucial question in Quebec about the severe limits on access to
English schooling in the province," Bergman explained. "Furthermore, the
English-speaking community has a particular and on-going interest in the
extent of protections afforded our linguistic minority for the control and
management of a system of English public schools as set out by Article 23 of
the Constitution Act, 1982. The Court Challenges Program, cancelled without so
much as due process by the federal government, is a key tool for this
community. It is important that the Federal Court be fully apprised of this
message. Only through our intervention in this case can we be assured of
that."




For further information:

For further information: Kimberley Hamilton, Communications and Special
Projects Coordinator, (514) 849-5900, ext. 225, (C) 514-919-3894


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