September 23, 2021

Québec City, September 23, 2021 – The Québec English School Boards Association (QESBA) presented its brief and position on Bill 96: An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec to the Parliamentary Committee on Culture and Education.

The Association presented a measured brief on the sweeping language legislation that has become largely divisive across Québec. QESBA spoke mostly about education-specific issues such as the new three-year cap on temporary stays, language of communication and, of course, the blanket use of the notwithstanding clause among others.

“QESBA and the nine English language school boards it represents have been pioneers in the development and instruction of French immersion programs to ensure that the students we teach are prepared to contribute to and participate in Québec’s society,” said QESBA President Dan Lamoureux.

“We also maintain that there is no reason to amend the temporary stays for foreign nationals that would cap the eligibility certificates to three years. Currently foreign nationals can reapply for an extension after three years. Bill 96 removes the option for extension. With this new provision we may not have seen U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris spend five years and graduate from Westmount High School when her mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast-cancer scientist originally from Chennai, India, brought Harris and her sister, Maya, to Montreal in the 1970s when she took a job teaching at McGill University and doing research at the Jewish General Hospital. This talented researcher might not have accepted this position if told her children could not benefit from a bilingual education in Québec,” continued the President.

“The other very important element is, once again, the blanket use of the notwithstanding clause on Bill 96, which makes it impossible to challenge the bill in court. The spirit of the notwithstanding clause was to be used exceptionally and attached to a timeline. Quebec used it in the past when school boards changed from confessional to linguistic – that is using the notwithstanding clause appropriately,” concluded the President.

The full brief can be found at www.qesba.qc.ca.

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.