EMSB backtracks on controversial statement on Quebec's language reform law

·2 min read
Earlier this month, EMSB commissioners adopted a resolution calling on Quebec to withdraw Bill 96. It also called on the federal government to refer the bill to the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on whether it's legal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Earlier this month, EMSB commissioners adopted a resolution calling on Quebec to withdraw Bill 96. It also called on the federal government to refer the bill to the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on whether it's legal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has backtracked on a controversial statement last week concerning Quebec's language-reform law Bill 96, which questioned whether Quebec should be recognized as a nation.

Earlier this month, EMSB commissioners adopted a resolution calling on Quebec to withdraw Bill 96. It also called on the federal government to refer the bill to the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on whether it's legal.

The resolution drew criticism from Bill 96's proponents, notably the Bloc Québécois and Premier François Legault, who called the school board "a radical group."

On Saturday, the EMSB amended the resolution in a meeting.

"The council wishes to acknowledge that it now recognizes that some of these criticisms were unfounded or mistaken," an statement from the school board reads. "In particular, the EMSB does not question the fact that Quebec forms a nation."

EMSB chairperson Joe Ortona, who was dropped as a candidate in the upcoming municipal election as a result of the backlash, said the clause was taken out of context and blown out of proportion.

"The resolution was six pages long. There were many statements and quotations in that resolution and one of them made reference to the question of Quebec being a nation, and that got a lot of media attention," he said.

While that clause has now been removed, criticisms regarding language issues still remain. The resolution raises concerns about the possibly detrimental impact of Bill 96 on the English-speaking community in Quebec.

"The purpose of the resolution was to bring to light the concerns that we have regarding Bill 96, and to state that it is not necessary in order to promote and protect the French language," Ortana said.

"Quebec is a nation, but what we want as an English-speaking community is we want to be part of that nation."

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