Decision--June 11th, 2008
IN THE COURT OF QUEEN'S BENCH OF NEW BRUNSWICK
JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF SAINT JOHN
B E T W E E N: PAULA SMALL and PATRICK JAMES RYAN
- and -
PROVINCE OF NEW BRUNSWICK,
as represented by the Minister of Education
BEFORE: Mr. Justice H. H. McLellan
AT: Saint John, NB
DATE OF HEARING: June 4, 2008
DATE OF DECISION: June 11, 2008
COUNSEL: E. Thomas Christie, Q.C.
for the Applicants
C. Clyde Spinney, Q.C. and
Heather Doyle Landry
for the Respondents
Concluding paragraphs from Mr. Justice H. H. McLellan's Decision
24. In this case I must apply the principles from the precedents including the factors identified in Baker. In my opinion the disputed decision of the Minister in March 2008 was made in contravention of his own representation in July 2007 that the decision-making procedure would have time to “allow for a full debate”.
25. Because of that representation by the Minister I am satisfied that the applicants as parents of children registered to begin Early French Immersion in Grade 1 in September 2008 had a reasonable and legitimate expectation that program would not be cut without them having a real opportunity to be heard by the Minister.
26. In my view the news releases on February 27 and 29, 2008 and the Minister’s invitation for comments did not satisfy the requirements of consultation created by his own “full debate” representation.
27. Thus the decision of the Minister was unfair and unreasonable. The application for judicial review is allowed. The Minister’s decision to phase-out Early French Immersion is removed into the Court and quashed.
28. Following the precedent of the MacDonald case, I remit the matter back to the Minister. The Minister may if he wishes again consider the matter. Any further decision by the Minister should not be influenced by any expectations, consequences or possible waste caused by the March decision that has been quashed. Also any further decision should be made in accordance with the principles of fairness after an appropriate opportunity for interested citizens and organized groups to be heard to satisfy the Minister’s representation that there would be time to “allow for a full debate”.
29. Counsel will be heard with respect to costs.
H. H. McLellan
A Judge of the Court of Queen's Bench
of New Brunswick
After deliberation, and considering the significance of the case before the courts, Mr. Justice H. H. McLellan awarded the applicants $5000 after indicating the typical award is in the $500-$1000 range.
It was a good and a sad day. The good is that we had our day in court and that an impartial examination of the facts surrounding the elimination of EFI in the anglophone school system resulted in quashing of Minister Lamrock's decision. The sad part is that we had to take the government to court to be heard. Clearly, the Liberal government needs to engage the population of NB when making a decision of this magnitude.