Here is a press release I sent out from the English Montreal School Board which I urge everyone to read and then go online to sign the petition.
The Central Parents Committee of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is urging parents, students, staff and the community at large to support their online petition related to Bill 104, which the Supreme Court of Canada declared unconstitutional last fall. This petition calls upon the Quebec government to respect the ruling.
Bill 104 came into force in 2002 and closed a section in Bill 101, the charter of the French language in Quebec, that made a child eligible to attend English public school after as little as a year in a non-subsidized private English school. This applied to siblings and, eventually, offspring as well. The EMSB had more than 27,000 students in its youth sector at the time. That number has since dropped to 22,000, due mainly to Bill 104.
The petition can be accessed at www.emsb.qc.ca
“It is our fear that the Quebec government will draft new legislation in the very near future that may very well mirror Bill 104, once again infringing upon our freedom of choice,” states EMSB parent commissioner Angie Bertone, who moved the resolution initiating the petition. “Enough is enough! The time has come to stand up for our rights: the right and freedom to choose. Let us protect our freedom of choice and that of generations to come!”
EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini notes that the October 22, 2009 Supreme Court of Canada ruling gave the Quebec National Assembly one year to rewrite the legislation so that it does not contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canada. Until such time, their decision is considered suspended and not applicable. The Charter of the French Language (Bill 101), adopted by the National Assembly in 1977, clearly states its objective of assuring the quality and influence of the French language in Quebec “in a spirit of fairness and open-mindedness, respectful of the institutions of the English-speaking community of Quebec.” The CPC reasons that the EMSB, as well as other English School Boards across Quebec, have consistently supported this objective of the French Language Charter by going far beyond the minimum requirements for French language instruction set out in Ministry of Education regulations.
Ms. Mancini emphasized that the petition represents a joint effort with the Lester B. Pearson School Board, which also has an online petition. “Our two Central Parents Committees are meeting on the issue,” she said. “I remain in constant touch with their chairman, Marcus Tabachnick. As the two largest English public school boards in the province I believe it is important that we collaborate on a matter as important as this.”
Ms. Mancini points out that the EMSB and other English school boards across Quebec have over the years demonstrated their strong commitment to graduate fully bilingual and biliterate students in an effort to better qualify them for the Quebec work force.
The resolution, adds that the charter of the French Language has severely limited access to the public schools of the English-speaking community. Furthermore, the resolution wishes to ensure that any proposed amendment to the charter will in no way restrict access to the network of schools of the English-speaking community or threaten its sustainability. The CPC is also calling for the government to open a dialogue with the English speaking community regarding French language education and its role in the social context of Quebec before proposing any changes to the charter of the French language.