Côte Saint-Luc City Council has taken a leadership role in the pursuit of having the Quebec government respect the Supreme Court of Canada ruling which declared Bill 104 unconstitutional. I sincerely hope that other municipalities follow our lead. Bill 104 was adopted in 2002 and has a negative effect on the English public and private school systems. The English Montreal School Board, for instance, has seen its youth sector enrolment drop from 27,000 to 22,000 students over the last eight years.
Here is our resolution, adopted on April 12, 2010:
WHEREAS in 1984, the Supreme Court of Canada (‘‘the Court’’) declared that certain portions of the Charter of the French Language (‘‘the Language Charter’’) were unconstitutional and that Canadians whose parents received the ‘major part’ of their education in English in Canada had a right to attend publicly-funded English language schools in Quebec pursuant to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Canadian Charter”);
WHEREAS the Language Charter was later amended to comply with the Court’s decision;
WHEREAS in 2002 Paragraph 2 of Section 73 of the Language Charter was then amended by the Quebec National Assembly (“Legislature”) to state that education received by students at unsubsidized private schools in Quebec should be disregarded when determining whether a child is eligible to receive instruction in the publicly funded English language school system;
WHEREAS in 2002 Paragraph 3 Section 73 of the Language Charter was then amended by the Quebec National Assembly (“Legislature”) to establish the same rule with respect to instruction received pursuant to a special authorization granted under sections 81, 85 or 85.1 of the Language Charter in a case involving a serious learning disability, temporary residence in Quebec, or a serious family or humanitarian situation.
WHEREAS Section 73 of the Language Charter is inconsistent with the principle of preserving family unity provided for in the Canadian Charter said section rendering it impossible for children from the same family to receive instruction in the same school system.
WHEREAS the Canadian Charter protects the rights of parents to educate their children in English making no distinction concerning :
the type of instruction received by the child,
whether the educational institution is public or private, or
the origin of the authorization pursuant to which instruction is provided in a given language,
WHEREAS in 2005, in the case of Solski (Tutor of) v. Quebec (Attorney General)the Court established that in determining the requirement of the “major part” of the instruction as stated in section 73 of the Language Charter calls for a global qualitative assessment of a child’s educational pathway which is based on factors that include:
time spent in different programs of study,
at what stage of the child’s education the choice of language of instruction was made,
what programs are or were available, and
whether learning disabilities or other difficulties exist.
WHEREAS the amendments to paragraphs 2 and 3 of Section 73 the Language Charter were inconsistent with the finding in Solski; and
WHEREAS on October 22, 2009, the Court declared those revised provisions of Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Section 73 of the Language Charter constitutionally invalid but suspended the effects of its decision for a one year period to give the Legislature time to redraft the amendment to the Language Charter so that it does not contravene the Canadian Charter; and
WHEREAS the decision to be made by the Legislature will affect children and families in the City of Cote Saint-Luc (“City”) and the City Council (“Council”) wishes to ask the Legislature to consider the needs of those of its residents impacted by the amendments to Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Section 73 of the Language Charter judged unconstitutional by the Court; ;
IT WAS PROPOSED BY COUNCILLOR RUTH KOVAC
SECONDED BY COUNCILLOR ALLAN J. LEVINE
‘‘THAT the Council (‘‘Council’’) hereby requests that the Legislature carefully consider the historic rights and contributions of the English speaking communities of Quebec as it re-drafts its legislation.
That Council requests that the Legislature not amend the Language Charter to limit access to unsubsidized private schools in Quebec;
THAT Council requests that the Legislature ensures that its revisions to the Language Charter in response to the Court’s judgment respect the Canadian Charter and requests that the Legislature not invoke the notwithstanding clause when amending the Language Charter;
THAT Council further requests that the Legislature restore the situation which existed before the amendments to paragraphs 2 and 3 of Section 73 of the Language Charter were amended in 2002.’’