Highest court declares Bill 104 unconstitutional - QESBA welcomes ruling,
seeks clear and constructive response from Premier

OTTAWA, Oct. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) reacted with satisfaction today to a ruling by the Supreme Court of that Bill 104, which further restricts access to English public schooling in Quebec, is illegal under Canada's Constitution. The judgment validates the position taken by QESBA when it intervened before the Court in this case last December.

The Court said that Bill 104 was "excessive" in its absolute elimination of the right of access to English public schooling of students who sought to be rendered eligible based on their attendance for at least one year in a non-subsidized Quebec private school. The Court did, however, give the government of Quebec one year to find a solution.

"QESBA is gratified with this morning's decision," noted QESBA President Debbie Horrocks. "Now, we will be calling on the Premier to meet with us to consult on a solution that will respect the judgment, respect the needs of our English public school community, all the while respecting the importance of protecting the French language in Quebec. Meeting those three objectives in is not only entirely possible; in fact, the Supreme Court insisted upon it in today's judgment.

QESBA intervened in this case because the future strength of our English school boards depends on maintaining student enrolment. The English school network is the cornerstone of our communities across Quebec. Bill 104 eliminates access to English schools of at least 500 students per year - primarily in the greater Montreal region. Those students are essential to our system, and the consequential impact on the French school system would be very modest.

"Students in Quebec's English public schools are given every opportunity to master French and to contribute fully to Quebec society" Horrocks continued. "QESBA member boards contribute to the promotion of the French language; they don't in any way threaten it! Our schools are part of the solution, and we expect the Premier, by his response to this judgment, to show us that his government fully agrees."

The court seems to be sending a message that it's time for the Quebec government to find a definitive and positive balance between the rights to English public schooling in Quebec and the core objectives of the Charter of the French Language. "We take from this decision that the Quebec government needs to sit down with us and other key partners to, once and for all, find and confirm that balance.

SOURCE Quebec English School Boards Association

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

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