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QESBA Believes Merits of the School Transfer Issue Must be Heard

Montreal, July 8, 2019 - The Québec English School Boards Association (QESBA) is disappointed with the decision of the Superior Court of Québec regarding the provisional stay filed by the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) last week to suspend the transfer of two of its schools to the Commission scolaire de-la-Pointe-de-l’Île (CSPI).

A provisional stay requires that four criteria be met:

  • there must be a matter of urgency;
  • there must be a serious legal question to be considered (the issue must neither be frivolous nor vexatious);
  • there must be a serious prejudice or irreparable loss;
  • the balance of inconvenience between both sides (EMSB and CSPI) must be determined

The judge determined that the criteria of urgency had not been met as the boards had agreed to a proper transition period. The judge did find that the arguments raised by the EMSB on the legal issue based on section 23 of the Canadian Charter and whether the rights of the minority English-speaking community were violated were serious. The judge further agreed that there would be serious and irreparable harm to the EMSB by losing two of its schools but that the balance of inconveniences favoured the arguments advanced by the CSPI.

QESBA will support the decision of the EMSB whatever it may be going forward. However, the judgment clearly indicated that the English-speaking community’s Constitutional minority-language education rights are legitimate and serious arguments, therefore giving our community ample room for further legal recourse.

“It is unfortunate that the judge felt that the four elements for a provisional stay were not met. However, it is clear that our community has legal recourse to protect our institutions and our section 23 minority rights,” said QESBA President Dan Lamoureux.

“QESBA believes that the fundamental question of the validity of that section of the Québec Education Act which gives the Government the exceptional power to transfer schools remains to be determined. It would be in the broader interest of the English-speaking community of Québec if this were clarified by the Courts”, concluded the President.

QESBA is the voice of English public education in Québec and represents 100,000 students in 340 elementary, high schools, and adult and vocational centres across Québec.