“A great day for English school boards”

“A great day for English school boards”

Bill 40 violates minority language rights, Quebec Superior Court rules


By Matthew McCully

Local Journalism Initiative


The long-awaited ruling on the legal challenge to Bill 40: An Act to amend mainly the Education Act with regard to school organization and governance, launched in August 2020, was delivered on Wednesday in Montreal, calling many provisions in the bill unconstitutional.

Eastern Townships School Board Chair Michael Murray called the ruling by Superior Court Justice Sylvain Lussier, “a very comprehensive rejection,” and said it was a great day not only for English boards and the English community, but also for minority language groups across Canada, reaffirming section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Adopted into law after invoking closure in February 2020, Bill 40 abolished French school boards, replacing them with service centres and eliminated elections, putting in place a new system to appoint decision-makers, ultimately giving more power to the education ministry.

English boards were allowed to maintain their structure but would still have been subject to governance changes included in Bill 40.

The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) filed a legal challenge shortly after the Bill was adopted (the ETSB also joined) and was granted a stay in its application until a full legal challenge could be heard.

Over three years after first reaching the court room, Justice Lussier’s 129-page decision concluded that adequate consultation had not taken place on Bill 40, and several provisions breach section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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