Tuesday, June 10, 2008

French immersion changes proceed as province, parents await court ruling

Published Tuesday June 10th, 2008
Jesse Robichaud -- Canadaeast News Service

MONCTON - The opposition that has erupted in response to the Liberal government's decision to cut early French immersion has not derailed the process of implementing the reforms in time for the start of classes this fall.

Parents Paula Small and Patrick Ryan filed affidavits with the Court of Queen's bench in Saint John last month in support of their application for an injunction that would halt Lamrock's reforms pending a judicial review.

Department of Education deputy minister John Kershaw filed documents seeking an application to end the legal action, claiming financial hardship would occur if the reforms were overturned after $2 million has been spent on restructuring the immersion system.

Lawyers for both sides have stated their cases before McLennan.

Legal counsel to the parents group, Thomas Christie, claimed in court that Lamrock's amendments will contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom's minority language education guarantee. He also focused on what he alleged were incorrect procedures.

Christie charged that Lamrock left only two weeks between issuing a release asking for public input into the decision, which was based on 18 recommendations from the Croll-Lee report. He said that was not enough time to collect meaningful input on the policy change.

The province's lawyer, Clyde Spinney, said Lamrock had no obligation to consult with the public over a matter of broad public policy.

Lamrock sounded the death knell for early immersion in March when he announced reforms of the French second language system based on a controversial report by Jim Croll and Patricia Lee.

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