English Montreal School Board files legal challenge against Bill 96

The Montreal English School Board (EMSB) has officially launched a legal challenge to the new Quebec government law to strengthen and protect the French language.

The largest English language school board in the province filed a 47-page lawsuit last Friday after voting in favor. act against the law is called Bill 96.

The lawsuit states that the language law violates the Canadian Constitution in “at least three ways” and directly interferes with the administration of English schools.

The newly passed legislation, which received royal assent last week, has been widely criticized by Spanish-speaking groups, immigrants and indigenous peoples as saying it goes too far.

READ MORE: Quebec Legislature Passes Proposition 96 Language Reforms By Ordering

Prop 96 will soon impose tougher language requirements, including in the education and business sectors. It limits enrollment at English-speaking junior colleges and requires students attending those CEGEPs to take three additional French classes. It also extends some provisions of the province’s existing language charter.

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The law also invokes the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect it from court challenges. The prime minister of the province has maintained the legislation to a moderate degree and it is necessary to protect the French language.

However, in its lawsuit, the EMSB argued that the Quebec government was ignoring some of the measures outlined in Proposition 96. The school board pointed out that language law cannot be fully protected from challenges. legal action under this clause if it affects existing language rights.

The EMSB claims the government is in “unacceptable” violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by imposing the use of French in English-language school boards. It says the new law goes against section 23, which protects the right of English-speaking minorities in Quebec to be educated in English.

Read more:

Amidst anxiety from Bill 96, a private school in Montreal announces Grade 12 program

The EMSB argued that it and other school boards would be required to use French or both French and English in certain circumstances, such as internal communications and external dealings with institutions. other anglophone functions.

The lawsuit argues that only the English language school board has the authority to make those decisions as part of the “management and control powers” outlined in the charter.

“The Minority Language School Board has exclusive authority to make such decisions, including the power to create and maintain an environment in which staff, students, families, and members communities can interact and thrive in the language of the minority,” the lawsuit states.

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Read more:

Quebec’s Proposition 96 officially becomes law, named by Minister of Francophonie

The legal challenge also said the Office of québécois de la langue française (OQLF), the province’s language watchdog, would oversee the use of French in English-language school boards.

The EMSB said the school board would have to submit an analysis of their “language situation” and if they did not, OQLF could investigate. School boards may also be required to implement a compliance program if they do not meet Francophonie charter standards, according to the lawsuit.

When it comes to Proposition 96, the EMSB has previously said that it supports the protection of the French language but that “French language protections in Quebec cannot violate Quebec’s constitutional rights.”

Read more:

Quebec’s use of the notwithstanding clause in language law opens up constitutional debate

The Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, which covers a large swathe of Montreal’s north, voted unanimously last week to support the EMSB in the legal battle.

An EMSB spokesman said it did not expect the arguments to go to court for at least a year.

with files from Global News ‘Elizabeth Zogalis and The Canadian Press

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