|STRONG TURNOUT FOR SPECIAL MEETING ABOUT DRAFT BILL 86|
MONTREAL, JANUARY 8, 2016 – English Montreal School Board Chairman Angela Mancini welcomed over 200 governing board parents and staff to a special information meeting on January 6 about draft Bill 86: An Act to modify the organization and governance of school boards
The EMSB Council has denounced Bill 86 which, if adopted, will restructure the province’s school boards by limiting the public’s right to vote for school board commissioners.
Guest speakers at the meeting were former Liberal Member of Parliament Marlene Jennings, Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge and constitutional lawyer Michael Bergman.
Ms. Jennings recently chaired an Election System Study Panel commissioned by four community organizations to study ways to reform school board elections while maintaining anglophone constitutional rights. Mr. Bergman who specializes in the constitutional rights of minority groups represents the Quebec English School Boards Association. Ms. Martin-Laforge, works as the Executive Director of the QCGN which is a non-profit organization linking 47 English-language community groups across Quebec.
“I was really pleased by the turnout,” said Ms. Mancini, “but I was not surprised. Our school board is very much supported by its community and their presence in such great number at the information session reaffirmed the support I know exists.”
Over the course of an in-depth two hour session the veil of draft Bill 86 was lifted and the fundamental truth was revealed. Mr. Bergman noted that parents would not be in-charge of their school board and that the Minister of Education would have the power to veto council decisions, over school board territories and whether or not to close or merge schools. “Bill 86 gives the Minister of Education the power to control and manage all of the resources of the school board,” Mr. Bergman warned. “He would also have authority over the Director General.”
The three guest speakers were unanimous that this law negatively affects minority English rights. Bill 86, which proposes to eliminate elections by universal suffrage, would create a situation wherein tax-payers would likely not be allowed to vote. This greatly diminishes the rights of the anglophone minority community in Quebec to manage and control their school system under Section 23 of the Canadian Constitution.
“I am very upset with the Couillard Liberals for their deliberate attempt to eliminate elected school board councils,” said Ms. Mancini. ‟Bill 86 is nothing but a power grab by the Minister. How can one level of government justify eliminating another? One tax payer telling another tax payer they can vote or not is an insult to democracy. It’s preposterous!”
The present school board councils were elected by parents and other tax-payers in November 2014.
Michael J. Cohen