MONTREAL, OCTOBER 23, 2009---– The chairs of Quebec’s two largest English language public school boards will be requesting meetings with Premier Jean Charest and Minister of Education, Leisure and Sports Michelle Courchesne in the wake of the Supreme Court decision on Bill 104. Angela Mancini of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) and Marcus Tabachnick of the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) made the announcement October 22 at a joint press conference held at John F. Kennedy High School in St. Michel.
While invalidating Bill 104, which excludes studies in a non-subsidized private English school as an eligibility requirement for English public school, the effects of the judgment were postponed for a year in order for the Quebec government to draft new legislation that would be constitutionally compliant. “Our board has certainly been negatively affected by Bill 104,” Ms. Mancini said.”We have lost more than 5,000 students in our youth sector over the last decade and the implementation of this law seven years ago is a significant contributor to that drop. I think what we want to explain to the Premier and the Minister is that we do graduate bi-literate and bilingual students. Our hope is that the spirit of the judgment will be respected.”
Both Ms. Mancini and Mr. Tabachnick agreed they were expecting the Court to rule Bill 104 as unconstitutional. However, they are dismayed by the suspension of the ruling’s application.
Bill 104 has led to the loss of about 500 students per year in each Board. “It is to our advantage to ensure that our students have the tools to live, work, and stay here. We have to make the government realize English schools do an exceptionally good job at teaching our students French,” Mr. Tabachnick said. “The government has the obligation to take all necessary steps to ensure the long term viability of the English public school system. That is why the Premier and the Minister of Education must meet with the two Boards most directly affected by this law.”