POLITICS

New Brunswick to seek court opinion on need for bilingual school buses

04/23/2015 12:43 EDT | Updated 07/20/2015 03:59 EDT
FREDERICTON - The New Brunswick government will ask the province's Court of Appeal to hear a reference case on the government's constitutional obligations to provide separate school buses for anglophone and francophone students.

Serge Rousselle, who is minister of education and the attorney general, said his staff believes that separate bus systems are required in the province.

He wants the court to provide clarity to an issue that has been at the centre of discussion recently in the province.

"We want to have a clear definition of our obligation and responsibilities," Rousselle said Thursday outside the legislature. "So we will be asking the Court of Appeal to help us define our responsibilities that we have as a government when it comes to the issue, and provide clarification."

Last month, the Education Department confirmed that there are 92 francophone and anglophone students travelling on buses they're not supposed to.

At the time, New Democrat Leader Dominic Cardy called on the government to clarify its responsibilities and suggested a judicial review.

Cardy said he's glad that the minister now agrees.

"In the end, what matters is we're going to get some clarity on this and a court reference is definitely the way to reach that clarity," Cardy said Thursday.

New Brunswick is Canada's only officially bilingual province.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says English and French in New Brunswick are to have equality of status, equal rights and privileges in their use in all institutions of the legislature and the government of New Brunswick.