English school board calls judge’s stay on parts of Quebec language law a ‘win’ – Montreal

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The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is celebrating what it calls a “significant win” after a Quebec Superior Court decision granting a partial stay on Bill 96 and the Charter of the French Language.
In a press release Thursday, EMSB chair Joe Ortona said the court stayed parts of the law requiring that written communications between key English-speaking institutions be in French.“This is a significant win, of which the EMSB should be proud,” Ortona said.“While we offer rich programming in French in our schools and are committed to ensuring our students have strong French language capabilities so that they can live and work in Québec, it is important to emphasize that we are an English-language school board and a key institution of the English-speaking community.”The EMSB, the province’s largest English school board in the province, said the decision will also benefit other English language boards, as well as the Quebec English School Boards Association. Story continues below advertisement

The EMSB filed a motion last November to protect its right to communicate in English.

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At the time, Ortona said it was absurd that employees of an English-language institution have to write to each other in French.While the amendments to the Charter of the French language were adopted in 2022, with the legislation known as Bill 96, they were only enforced in 2023, “without any consultation with the English-language community,” the board states.

The EMSB’s legal battle over Bill 96, however, is far from over.In June 2022, the board filed a 47-page lawsuit arguing that the law to bolster and protect the French language violates the Canadian Constitution and interferes with the governance of English schools. Lawsuits against Bill 96 have also been brought by bilingual municipalities, a group of lawyers and an Indigenous organization.

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The constitutional challenge is still making its way through the court system and is expected to be “a lengthy process,” Ortona said, with Thursday’s decision offering some respite.“EMSB applied for a stay to avoid suffering irreparable harm while EMSB waits for a final decision on the constitutional challenge,” he said.With respect to the Bill 96 provisions that were not stayed by the Superior Court, they were maintained until there is a judgement on the constitutionality of the new law. Story continues below advertisement

— with files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise and The Canadian Press  

‘An attack on the English language’: Demonstration held in protest of Quebec’s Bill 96

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