EMSB votes to defy Quebec secular charter

Montreal's largest English-language school board says it will not comply with the Parti Québécois's proposed secular charter, but Quebec's Education Minister says it won't have much choice.

PQ's Bill 60 'runs contrary to what we try to teach,' says English Montreal School Board

The Parti Québécois's proposed secular charter would ban the wearing of overt religious symbols for most public-sector employees. (Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

Quebec Education Minister Marie Malavoy says school boards won't have much choice when it comes to applying the secular charter, once it is passed.

At a meeting Wednesday night, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB), the city's largest English-language school board, passed a resolution that refuses to carry out key provisions of the Parti Québécois's secular charter.

But Malavoy says once the proposed legislation is passed, the EMSB will have to comply.

"Maybe some school boards have some opinions, but I think when the law will be voted on, it will have to be applied."

"I think everybody will have to accept it," she said.

But officials with the school board say the controversial charter, and its ban on overt religious symbols, goes against core values of the education system. 

"[Bill 60] runs contrary to what we as educators try to teach our kids," said EMSB commissioner Syd Wise. 

"Our teachers teach tolerance of others, respect and recognition of individual rights, which includes freedom to adhere to one's religious convictions."

The school board says it has no intention of complying with those provisions, which run contrary to the school board's core values.

The EMSB is expected to present a brief to Quebec's national assembly in early 2014.