Montreal, QC., May 11, 2010 – At an unprecedented press conference today, public and private schools jointly called upon the Quebec government to respect the October Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which stated that Bill 104 is unconstitutional.
The chairs of the English Montreal School Board (Angela Mancini), Lester B. Pearson School Board (Marcus Tabachnick), Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (Steve Bletas), Riverside School Board (Moira Bell), QESBA President Debbie Horrocks, Quebec Association of Independent Schools (QAIS) president Elizabeth Falco and former Federal Commissioner of Official Languages, Dr. Victor Goldbloom spoke at the press conference held at Nesbitt Elementary School in Rosemount. They all conveyed the same message: the Quebec government must find ways to ensure the future of the English community schooling system. Several high profile community leaders were also on hand to support this initiative.
On October 22nd, 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Bill 104 as unconstitutional and gave the Quebec government one year to redraft the law. Bill 104 was adopted by the Quebec government in 2002 to close a loophole in its French language charter that enabled students who weren’t eligible to attend to English Schools to have that right. Since Bill 104 was adopted, Quebec’s two largest English school boards (the LBPSB and EMSB) have been losing an estimated 500 new registrations every year.
“Bill 104 has had a devastating effect on our board,” said Angela Mancini. “In 2002, our youth sector enrolment was at the 27,000 mark. We are now at 22,000 and falling. Bill 104 has been a chief contributor to this decline. The Supreme Court came out with a ruling that has the potential to supply some oxygen to our system. We are calling upon the Quebec government to do the right thing.”
Both the EMSB and the LBPSB took a leadership role on this issue the moment the Supreme Court ruling was announced. Their Central Parent Committees have developed online petitions, which have thus far garnered over 12,000 signatures. A number of municipalities and other school boards have adopted resolutions in support of the EMSB’s and LBPSB’s position on the matter. In an effort to connect with the government in order to ask that the English school system be protected, both boards have met with a number of Members of the National Assembly.
“The Quebec government cannot take the English community for granted,” said Marcus Tabachnick. “This issue has galvanized the English community and the coalition we are establishing is only going to grow. We have tried to relay the point to the government and the francophone community that we are no threat to the French language. Our English public schools do so much to ensure that our students graduate, and graduate with the tools they will need to live, work, succeed and bring up their future families in Quebec. We will not stand any further attack on the future of our community.”
For more information or to speak with someone directly, please contact:
Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
(514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Lester B. Pearson School Board
(514) 422-3000 ext. 2666