In almost every province over the last two decades, the school board has been a vilified institution. Suffice it to say school boards have known their share of scandal and are perceived by many to be outdated, inefficient, and having lost their powers of taxation, largely ineffective. But, in Quebec, the fates have conspired to confer a renewed relevance on the institution, at least in the English-speaking community.
First, the pandemic has been a proving ground, and the board has performed better in meeting its challenges than has the minister of education. And with the Bill 21 judgment exempting the minority anglophone educational community from that law’s discriminatory provisions, our school boards are now charged with the constitutional responsibility of maintaining the civil liberties of other minorities under their authority, from teachers to administrators to support staff.
The next shoe to drop will be the judgment on Bill 40. I commit myself in print to saying I would be most surprised if the courts found that our school boards are not constitutionally entrenched, beyond the remove of any government. There will be appeals on appeals, but long after Minister Roberge is just an unpleasant memory, and Chris Eustace and I have written our last on the subject, we will still be electing school commissioners.