English-language school boards wrap up evidence against Bill 40
MONTREAL -- Quebec's English-language school boards finished their evidence against Bill 40 on Monday.
The law, which was adopted by the National Assembly in February, 2020, abolishes the province's school boards. A coalition including the English-language boards and language-rights activists have challenged the law in court, arguing that the law, as it stands, would weaken English-language education.
“It transfers power to the minister and the ministry, it diminishes the autonomy and independence of school boards,” said Quebec Association of Englisch School Boards director Russell Copeman. “It disenfranchises large swaths of the Anglophone community from being elected to the boards of directors of these new service centres.
Government lawyers have repeated arguments put forth by the Francois Legault administration since the law was adopted, saying school board elections have low participation rates.
Bill 40 introduced educational service centres, where parents and staff contribute to the administrative process. The government has argued that the centres are a more efficient model.
But Copeman said for minority linguistic groups, the current school board system offers more independence.
“Bill 40 infringes on the constitutional rights of the English community to control its school system,” he said.
Last year, both the Superiour Court and Quebec Court of Appeal considered the issue important enough that they suspended Bill 40 in the English sector, a battle that many involved believe will end up at the Supreme Court.
While the case was supposed to wrap up in Superiour Court on Tuesday, the judge and lawyers decided to postpone until Wednesday, as another landmark ruling is expected to land in a case involving a challenge to Bill 21, which prevents teachers and some other public sector employees from wearing religious symbols.