'A big show': Quebec's premier dismisses EMSB's plan to contest Bill 21
Published Thursday, September 26, 2019 10:22AM EDT Last Updated Thursday, September 26, 2019 6:24PM EDT
Premier Francois Legault has dismissed the English Montreal School Board's plans to contest Bill 21 as nothing more than posturing.
“For me it's more like a show," Legault said Thursday. "I think we're very confident that we'll win that. But in order to satisfy some people they're having a big show.”
Asked by reporters if he takes the legal challenge seriously, Legault replied “No”, adding, “I think they are losing credibility in doing things like that.”
The premier defended the new law, describing it as moderate legislation that is widely accepted by the majority of Quebecers.
“They must see that there's a very large consensus in Quebec and it's a very reasonable bill."
Around two-thirds of English Montreal School Board (EMSB) commissioners voted Wednesday night to contest in court Quebec's Bill 21 and its ban on religious symbols for those in positions of power.
Seven commissioners voted in favour of taking the province to court while three voted against the motion.
The basis of the challenge centres on Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees minority language education rights to English-speaking minorities.
The wording on the motion was vague calling for the law firm to "institute" on behalf of the board the "appropriate" legal recourse.
Commissioners at the council meeting in favour of the motion argued the law is hampering the EMSB in guaranteeing minority-language education because it places an unfair burden when hiring teachers.
Those opposed to legal action said, while they opposed banning religious symbols among public educators, they didn't want to assume the legal bills alone and want to reach out to the other eight school boards.
Board chairperson Angela Mancini said she was for the cause, but uncomfortable with footing the legal bill and voted against the motion.
"If we are the only board that's putting in money, and none of the other boards of QSB are putting money, it's nice to say that they're for the cause of fighting the minister's new law, but there doesn't seem to be any follow through except for what we're putting in as money," she said. "How much money can we put in?"
In the meantime, the board will apply the law, while contesting it. The Commission Scholaire de Montreal and Lester B. Pearson School Board have also decided to apply the law overcoming earlier reservations.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have also challenged Bill-21 in court.
- With reporting from CTV News Montreal Quebec City Bureau Chief Maya Johnson