Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Saint John (New Brunswick) – June 4, 2008

Parents across the province today are welcoming the judicial review hearing against the elimination of Early French Immersion (EFI) being held at the Court of Queens Bench in Saint John.

A group of parents retained lawyer Thomas Christie to argue on their behalf that the Minister of Education rushed through the changes to the French Second Language (FSL) education program without engaging in a reasonable period of public consultation. They believe that the Minister also showed no consideration for the impact on families who had already registered their children for Grade 1 EFI starting September 2008.

Lawyers representing both the Department of Education and parents seeking a delay to the FSL program changes will present their legal briefs to the Court. Both sides have submitted affidavits to support their cases, including three from parents whose kindergarteners were due to start EFI this fall.

One of those included the Woodstock-based Marcoux family. They are a francophone family who, with the elimination of EFI, will no longer able to access French language education for their children.

The group of parents believe that even if the judge rules against them, the case has represented an important opportunity for keeping debate on the FSL program changes alive.

“Going to court has been a last resort for parents who are dismayed at the elimination of Early French Immersion and the other changes made by the government to the French Second Language programming in our province,” said Tim Jackson, one of the parent-organizers behind the Judicial Review. “Even if the judge does not find that the government has broken the law, we still believe it has a moral obligation to consult broadly with stakeholders for a change of this magnitude to the education system. Such a disregard for consultation and due process is a consequence of both the current government’s attitude to consultation and flaws in the New Brunswick Education Act.”

The parents also believe the issue goes beyond simply reinstating EFI this fall.

“We hope that the judicial review process will uphold the rights of New Brunswick children and parents to have choice in education not only for September 2008 but beyond 2008 as well,” said Paula Small, one of the parents who submitted an affidavit to the hearing. “Many parents have come forward to voice their support to us in this process. We must continue to work with the government to ensure choice is returned permanently in New Brunswick's education policy."

The group has established a Fund for donations to offset legal costs of the case. Information on how to donate and on the broader issues can be found at http://www.educationnb.org/.


For more information, please contact Tim Jackson: tjackson@nb.sympatico.ca(506) 674-1597 or (506) 476-0951

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