Francis Vachon The Canadian Press Bernard Drainville presented amendments to his Bill 23 on Tuesday, which establish a special regime for the leaders of English-speaking school boards.
Faced with the risk of a legal challenge, the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, excludes English-speaking school boards from part of his reform.
He presented amendments to his bill 23. These amendments establish a special regime for the directors of English-speaking school boards. If the bill is adopted, they will not be appointed by the minister, unlike their counterparts in French-speaking school service centers.
The Drainville reform provides, among other things, that the Minister of Education can appoint directors general for five-year terms and cancel their decisions to “take the one which, [in the opinion of the Minister], should have been taken in the first place “. These provisions would not apply in the English-speaking network, in accordance with the amendments.
These parts of the bill have different implications in English school boards, since the presidents and directors general are chosen by elected commissioners. As for school service centers, the appointment of general directors is the responsibility of the boards of directors.
- The reform Drainville concentrates powers in education in the hands of the minister
- Quebec has filed its appeal on the English school boards
“We were following [the study of the bill] very closely and we had already announced it: if it was ever adopted, we were ready to challenge it [before the courts],” recalled Thursday to the DutyJoe Ortona, president of the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA). His organization judges that Bill 23 does not respect section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to education in the language of the minority.
A fruitful dialogue
In a statement to Devoir, Minister Drainville’s press secretary, Florence Plourde, wrote that the elected official had exchanges “with representatives of English-speaking school service centers, more particularly the ACSAQ”. He tabled his amendments following these meetings, she added.
“I really wanted a fruitful, positive dialogue, and that’s what we had,” Mr. Drainville also declared in the corridors of parliament. We agreed, the English school boards are happy. They see it as a positive gesture and so do we. »
The articles of the bill suspended by Minister Drainville's amendments will “not come into force in the English-speaking network as long as the government does not adopt a decree” on this subject, emphasized Mr. Ortona.
“The minister has committed not to adopt this type of decree before having communicated with QESBA. So, there is no anticipated effective date. And we hope that they will not come into force, because our position is clear: they are not in conformity with the Charter,” he stressed.
Liberal MP Marwah Rizqy, for her part, declared that Minister Drainville's relaxations constituted “good news”. In his opinion, the reprieve proposed by the minister will become permanent if the English school boards succeed in their challenge to the reform of school governance. “If the government loses [in a final decision], the decree does not take effect. So that means that neither Bill 23 nor Bill 40 would apply to English-speaking school boards,” she told Devoir.
Regarding On the French-speaking side, Mr. Drainville also proposed modifying his bill to provide that the minister take “into account the local needs expressed by the board of directors of the school service center” when appointing directors general. “I don’t want to go any further than that,” he said in an exchange with Ms. Rizqy, who proposed that the board of directors be “consulted” before appointments. In the minister's opinion, a consultation involves “rules, a mechanism, a process, in short, a certain rigidity, and therefore, I do not want to put my finger in this gear”. He assured that “in fact”, there would be “a dialogue” with the board of directors before the appointment of a general director.