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A Judge Ruled English Schools Must Apply Bill 21 But They're Going To Keep Fighting It

The English Montreal School Board says it's concerned with hiring options during a teacher shortage.

Associate Editor
A Judge Ruled English Schools Must Apply Bill 21 But They're Going To Keep Fighting It

A judge has ruled that Quebec's ban on religious symbols will apply to English schools as the case moves through the court system. Meanwhile, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) says it will continue to fight Bill 21.

Bill 21, also known as the "secularism law," bars all religious symbols from the public sector. This means public service workers, like teachers and police officers, can't wear hijabs, kippahs, crosses, turbans or any other religious symbols while at work.

Last April, Quebec's Superior Court exempted English schools from Bill 21 because it found parts of the bill violated the English-language minority's constitutional right to manage and control its own schools.

The Quebec government appealed that decision, delaying the exemption. But because that appeal process could take longer than a year, the EMSB asked the courts for an exemption from Bill 21 until the matter is decided.

On Tuesday, the Quebec Court of Appeal denied the request.

The EMSB released a statement saying it is "disappointed" with the ruling, which makes it impossible for English school boards to hire principals, vice principals and teachers who wear religious symbols.

"We remain committed to continue our challenge to Bill 21 and to defend our exclusive right to manage and control our institutions in accordance with our culture," EMSB Chair Joe Ortona said in the statement.

Ortona also noted that under the current province-wide teacher shortage, "A favorable judgment would also have given the EMSB much needed hiring options."

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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