POLITICS

New Brunswick chooses question for court on school bus language concerns

06/26/2015 01:40 EDT | Updated 06/26/2016 05:59 EDT
FREDERICTON - The New Brunswick government has decided on the question it will ask the Court of Appeal in an effort to determine the province's obligation for the busing of anglophone and francophone students.

"Is there, in New Brunswick, a constitutional obligation to provide distinct school transportation in relation to one or the other official language?" Attorney General Serge Rousselle said Friday.

He said the question was approved by the provincial cabinet on Thursday.

Rousselle wouldn't say when the request for a reference case would be made to the court, only answering "in the near future."

There are separate French and English school systems in the province, and there has been much public debate recently over whether students from each system must travel on separate buses - a practice Rousselle noted has been carried out for years and under various governments.

In March, the Education Department confirmed there were 92 francophone and anglophone students travelling on buses they're not supposed to.

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

New Brunswick is Canada's only officially bilingual province.

Rousselle said it's important to have the court rule on the issue of the buses.

"I think we are all winners when we ask the Court of Appeal to clarify and define our constitutional obligations here," he said.

Rousselle said he didn't know when the court might hear the case.

He said the policy of separate buses would be maintained for the next school year if there was no decision by September.