Montreal

Quebec federation of school boards says it will obey secularism law this fall

The federation's president said it will be important to work with the provincial Education Ministry to help resolve any problems that may arise with the application of this law.

The province's largest board has said it would hold consultations before banning religious symbols

Kindergarten teacher Haniyfa Scott gives a lesson during class in Montreal, Thursday, April 4, 2019. The Quebec government's recently-tabled Bill 21 bans the wearing of religious symbols for new government placed employees with schools, the courts and law enforcement. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Quebec's federation of school boards (FCSQ) says it intends on obeying the province's new secularism law when classes resume in September.

The move comes after the province's largest school board, the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), said it would not enforce the law in the fall of 2019 as it wants to hold consultations with parents and unions beforehand.

The federation's president, Alain Fortier, said the FCSQ is aligned with the CSDM on this issue, while their approach may differ.

"It will not be simple to enforce it come September. Notably in areas where religious symbols are more common," he told La Presse Canadienne.

He said it will be important to work with the provincial Education Ministry to help resolve any problems that may arise with the application of this law.

The law applies to civil servants in positions of authority, which in schools applies to teachers and principals. The bill was passed by Quebec's National Assembly last week.

The head of the school board federation said if the law is to be enforced, the government and school boards must work together as partners.

"If now this is the law, we will work toward this," Fortier said.

The Quebec English School Boards Association, which oversees the province's nine English-language school boards, argued last month that Bill 21 cannot be applied to English schools due to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling protecting the rights of minority-language parents.

Based on a report by La Presse Canadienne

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