Supreme Court eases English-language education rules in Quebec
Last Updated Thu, 31 Mar 2005 19:45:32 EST
OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has opened the door to increased English-language education in Quebec.
RELATED: Supreme Court eases English-language education rules in Quebec
Francophone Quebecers protested when Bill 101 was first enacted. (file photo)
INDEPTH: Bill 101: Language Laws in Quebec
In a unanimous judgment, the court stopped short of striking down provincial legislation that restricts access to English schools. But it laid down new legal criteria that will make it easier for immigrants and native-born Canadians to gain access to English schools.
RELATED: CBC Archives Bill 101
In a separate decision, the court rejected claims from a group of francophones that they should be able to choose English schooling for their children.
The judges said members of the linguistic majority have no constitutional right to education in the minority language.
The group had been fighting for the right to have their children educated in English, which is currently prohibited by Bill 101.
But the court ruling means the Quebec government must revamp its rules for English schooling to comply with the federal Charter of Rights.
Bill 101 only allows instruction in English to children whose parents received the bulk of their education in English, in Canada.
Mance Bourassa, one of those parents who led the fight, lives in Quebec's French-speaking heartland, the town of Charette, near Shawinagan.
Before the ruling, she said, "If English-speaking parents can choose to educate their children in English," she should have "the same right."
The language of instruction clause is considered the cornerstone of Bill 101, which has also been the source of some of the most bitter debates in Quebec politics for decades.
Many had expected Quebec Premier Jean Charest to invoke the notwithstanding clause to maintain the status quo. But because the court ruling did not strike down the legislation, he won't have that option.
Quebec's Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Benoît Pelletier will respond to the court decision on Thursday afternoon.