The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) finds unacceptable that the Government of Québec, on the recommendation of Education Minister Jean-François Roberge, has decided to force the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) to cede Riverdale High School in Pierrefonds to the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSMB), by-passing the usual process of school closures in the Education Act.
The LBPSB has been in discussions with the CSMB to provide places to the French board for their growing student population and those discussions were progressing in a positive manner. They were not stalled. The Minister of Education intervened late fall, requiring a proposal from both boards to develop short and long-term solutions to alleviate this crisis situation which both boards respected and delivered. The LBPSB has been renting much needed space to the CSMB to be able to respect the community and both the Board’s Major School Change Policy and the process outlined in the Quebec Education Act, an arrangement that could have continued in order to avoid the forced transfer of this building.
“This is a gross infringement on local autonomy and on the powers of duly elected school board commissioners to manage and control our school system and on our Constitutional Rights as a minority language community. It is unacceptable to us,” said QESBA President Dan Lamoureux.
According to at least one news report, Minister Roberge alluded to the fact that on to that this would not be the last forced building transfer in the English sector. “If this is a preview of what is to come from this Government, we should all be concerned about our rights, via local elected school commissioners, to safeguard the continued vitality of our school system. The two boards were moving to a viable solution. It is incumbent on the Minister to respect both local autonomy and the process outlined in the Education Act regarding community consultations. We therefore call upon the Minister to reconsider this heavy-handed and unnecessary decision,” concluded the President.