English school board elections delayed by pandemic, premier says

Quebec Premier François Legault made the announcement during Wednesday's news briefing, but could not say when the elections will instead be held.

QESBA's Russell Copeman says there are still questions left unanswered and delaying election is a good thing

The majority of candidates running for positions in the new English school service centres have been acclaimed. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

School board elections have been delayed in Quebec's English network due to the pandemic.

Quebec Premier François Legault made the announcement during Wednesday's news briefing, but could not say when the elections will instead be held.

Elections were scheduled for Nov. 1, but the majority of candidates have already been acclaimed.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education says all candidates who were acclaimed will still be able to take their seat on November 6. If a seat is contested, the incumbent will remain in their position until an election is held.

However, there are a few spots that will be left up to the voters, and several others that failed to attract a candidate.

Russell Copeman, the executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA), said he is pleased with the announcement, but there are still technicalities to sort out.

"We are anxious to get more detail from the government of Quebec as soon as that becomes available."

He said QESBA has been pushing for the delay of elections because of the pandemic, but also because of its opposition to the creation of service centres and the many questions still left unanswered.

Those who have already been acclaimed should be allowed to take their seats, Copeman said.

"We don't need to prolong a period of uncertainty," he said.

Copeman said it is still not clear as to how the province will manage the six positions that did not attract a candidate. Those vacancies include the chair of the Central Quebec School Board. 

That's only one area where questions remain, said Copeman, as postponement could last for months given the current health crisis. 

Earlier this month, the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld a suspension of Bill 40, the CAQ government's controversial education reform. 

Bill 40, passed in February, changed most school boards into service centres and did away with elections for French-language boards. Elected positions were maintained for the new English-language service centres.

With files from Matt D'Amours


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