We got a small break in Bill 60 news over the holidays, but the Parti Québécois proposed Charter of Values is back in our newsfeed in a big way. Not surprising, given that hearings on the bill will begin Tuesday, January 14th at the National Assembly. To keep you up to date on all things Bill 60, here is a roundup of news stories concerning the Charter of Values.
Prominent public figure and political activist Yves Michaud made a very scandalous statement in favour of Bill 60, going as far as saying how any workers against the Charter should just get out of the province.
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.
"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."
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Quebec Premier François Legault directed some pointed words at the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) at a press conference on Tuesday after the organization insisted that the government withdraw its language reform legislation — the controversial Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec.
"I think they are disconnected," said the premier, "it's as if they've become a radical group."
The EMSB's suggestion that the government should withdraw from Bill 96 was met with anger from both the provincial government and the Bloc Québécois.
In a document, the EMSB asserted that Bill 96 would lead to a "further decline of enrollment at English schools" and that it "discourages bilingualism by restricting Francophones and allophones from accessing English CEGEPs," among other things.
Jon G. Bradley, a former professor who added his voice to the document, insisted that "Quebec is not a nation. It never has been."
"Even the federal government recognizes that Quebec is a nation," Legault said at his press conference.
This controversy has made its way into the Montreal mayoral race as well. Ensemble Montréal leader Denis Coderre removed EMSB chairman Joe Ortona as one of his candidates in the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough.
Legault praised Coderre's move.
"I was happy to see Denis Coderre remove his candidate that came from the EMSB," he said.
The Quebec Superior Court has ruled that the religious symbols ban under Bill 21 won't apply to English schools in Quebec, according to multiplereports. This means that teachers in English schools who wish to wear religious symbols won't be required to remove them.
The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) shared the news on Tuesday, saying it's "elated with the Quebec Superior Court’s decision to strike down key provisions of Bill 21."
However, the CBC reports that the court upheld most of Bill 21, which forbids public-facing government employees from wearing religious symbols while performing their duties.
According to the EMSB, the Superior Court allowed English schools to be exempt under a provision in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which "guarantees minority language educational rights to English-speaking minorities in Quebec, including the exclusive right of management and control of minority language schools."
"A religious symbol worn by a teacher in no way affects their ability to provide quality education in a secular state, within a secular education system and in the classrooms of public schools administered by the EMSB," said EMSB Chair Joe Ortona.
It turns out that English students are more likely to graduate high school than French students.
I know what you're thinking.
How could anyone be pissed off by this news?
Well it's not because more anglophones are graduating, it's actually the reasons listed as to why anglophone students are more successful that might rub some people the wrong way.
The main reason is simply this: anglophones have a tighter nit community and the parents are more involved with the schools.
A professor from Université de Montréal thinks anglophones are just wealthier than Francophones, however that doesn't really explain anything, since more Francophones attend private school than anglophones do.
Here's a quick comparison of graduation rates:
High school graduation percentage in public and private schools: