[lg policy] Canada: Quebec readies new language education law

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 1 15:42:36 UTC 2010

Quebec readies new language education law

Thursday, December 31, 2009 | 4:22 PM ET

Quebec's Liberal government will be ready to introduce guidelines for
English-language education eligibility in coming months, in response
to recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada. Quebec Justice
Minister Kathleen Weil said her ministry is crafting legislation to
replace Bill 104 after the country's top court declared it
unconstitutional. "We're not going to wait a year to announce it,
that's for sure," Weil said this week, referring to the Supreme
Court's new-year deadline for new legislation. "There is a consensus
in Quebec that you can't buy a right." Bill 104 closed a loophole in
Quebec's French Language Charter, which lays out the province's
language policy in all sectors of public life.

The loophole allowed parents without English education eligibility to
gain access to the public English-language school system by sending
their children to a private English school first. Quebec's tough
language laws require children in the public system to attend French
schools unless their parents meet certain criteria and can provide a
"certificate of eligibility." Bill 104, introduced in 2002,
strengthened Quebec's language law until a group of parents challenged
it in court.

Educators concerned about response

The Supreme Court decision, rendered in October, was considered a
victory for English-language rights in Quebec. But English school
board officials are nervous about the Liberal government's legal
response. "Bill 104 was ruled unconstitutional. It's patently unfair,"
said Lester B. Pearson School Board chairman Marcus Tabachnick. "Be
done with it. Over. It doesn't have to be fixed. It has to be sent
away." Tabachnick added he's disappointed that elected anglophone
officials, including Weil, haven't stood up for Quebec's
English-speaking population. "We deserve to be treated properly, but
nobody seems to care about the future of this community," he said.

In 2007, Quebec's Court of Appeal struck down Bill 104, stating it was
a violation of Section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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