Bill 104: The Supremes Got It Right
The Bill 104 case was not about language. It was about fraud. The plaintiff’s represented by Brent Tyler were not contesting the articles of the Charter of the French Langage that say they couldn’t send their children to publicly funded English-language schools in Québec. They went to court to protect a right to cheat.
The Court has already examined the articles of Bill 101 that say only a child who has himself, or who’s parents have, received the majority of their schooling in English somewhere in Canada can go to public English schools in Québec. They ruled them to be just fine.
This case was not about that at all. This case was about parents who had found a loophole in the law by which they could buy their children a spot in a public school by sending one child to an unsubsidised private school for one year and then claim that their six year old child had received « the majority of his schooling in an English school in Canada. »
This case has nothing whatsoever with these parents’ right to choose the language of education of their children. They have that right. They exercised it when they paid for the private school.
This case was about my obligation to pay for the English-language education of the children of people too stupid and disoriented to find the English-speaking part of North America or too cheap to send them to summer camp at the Y.
Christ, doesn’t Tim Horton’s have a program or something?
The justices ruled that Bill 104, the law passed to close the loophole, was unconstitutional (not that Québec has ever signed that constitution) and contrary to a Charter of Rights and Freedoms purposely designed to open up such loopholes in Québec’s language law. Aware of all this, and of the political mess their ruling would probably cause, the justices suspended the application of their judgement for one year while the Québec City government lawyers find another way to patch the loophole.
The justices decided that an unconstitutional law should stay on the books for one whole year. In other words, they said the intent of the law was the right one, but that it was badly formulated, and gave Québec a year to fix it. I’d say that’s quite a statement on the moral legitimacy of Brent Tyler and his gang’s cause.
Now, of course, it’s on. Pauline Marois is going to claim that the Charter of the French language is peril and that only independence can save the French language. The Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste will say something terribly old fashioned about the Québec Nation and Patrick Bourgeois will make veiled hints at violence.
The Liberals are going to act very upset, lest they get labeld as week on language. Spaceman Marc Garneau might even take a crack at the posturing.
And, of course, Anglo Righters are going to claim the court gave every parent the moral right to find a way to send their kids to public English schools and you can expect a steady stream of angry and factually incorrect letters in all major English language dailies.
They’re all wrong.
Only the Supremes got it right.