04/14/2015 03:23 EDT | Updated 06/22/2015 09:59 EDT

François Blais, Quebec Education Minister, to scrap school board elections

The Quebec English School Boards Association says it's willing to go to court to protect the current school board system, after the education minister confirmed he plans on abolishing school board elections.


Education Minister François Blais said the last round of school board elections were a test, and the poor voter turnout confirms it's time for a change.

"The majority of positions were replaced without competition," he said. 

"We have to ask ourselves, will we leave the equivalent of $2 billion, or about 20-22 per cent of the education budget, in the hands of people ... when their democratic power is so weak."

Blais wouldn't specify how the new system of representation would work.

English School Boards surprised by news

He stepped in as education minister less than two months ago, taking over from Yves Bolduc, who quit politics following a series of controversies. 

The announcement blindsided the Quebec English School Boards Association, which is scheduled to meet with the minister this Friday.

"QESBA was surprised by the declarations made by the Ministre de l'Éducation ... calling for a major overhaul of school boards even before holding a first meeting with QESBA, a major partner in education," a press release stated. 

The decision to scrap the electoral system hits English school boards especially hard, because of their status as a minority in the province.

Association president David D'Aoust said they would take their case to the courts if necessary.

"We have the right to manage and control our educational institutions and we will not accept some strange hybrid regional entity that impinges on that right," he said.

"This is not a threat, it is simple statement of fact."

Blais acknowledged that English-speaking Quebecers do have specific rights, and he said they will be discussing how to preserve the community's power and influence over its own school system.