QUEBEC CITY -- A controversial provincial education reform bill was passed in the early hours of Saturday under a gag order.

The final vote took place at 3:21 a.m. Of the MNAs who were still present 60 voted in favour of Bill 40 while 35 voted against, with no abstentions.

While the main thrust of Bill 40 is putting to an end school board and commissioner elections, the law included 300 articles and 160 amendments.   

One last-minute amendment eliminated a transition period for elected commissioners in the French-language system, immediately kicking them out of their posts. 

The bill permits the English-language system to elect members of its newly recrated services centres, in keeping with the minority language and schooling rights outlined in the Constitution. 

On Friday, opposition parties called the decision to implement a gag order “contemptuous,” “arrogant” and “cynical,” saying the decision to not hear any more testimony was undermining democracy.

Members of the opposition parties noted it was the fourth time the Coalition Avenir Quebec government invoked a gag procedure in the past eight months. The procedure was also used on controversial secularism and immigration laws, as well as Hydro-Quebec’s tariff deregulation.