Brent Tyler steps in
June 18th, 2014
Montreal civil rights lawyer Brent Tyler has announced he is running for chair of the English Montreal School Board.
The lawyer known for challenging parts of Quebec’s language legislation and using the courts to fight for access to English schools says that while he is not an educator, he has a lot to offer the public board.
“I’m not a teacher and have never been a school administrator,” he said in an interview with The Suburban, which broke the news about Tyler’s intentions weeks ago. “The skill sets I bring are as a communicator and an advocate.”
Tyler says he will offer a consistent and clear message about the need for increased access to English schools, finding “a way to lobby the Quebec government effectively and successfully to amend the French language charter to allow English-speaking immigrants to attend English schools.” That message has not been delivered consistently over the years he says. “There has never been a consistent request for a legislative amendment. As chairman I would make it at every opportunity.”
He said the first recommendation of the 1992 Chambers Report calling for that measure would only cost the French boards one percent of their enrollment numbers, while boosting the English sector by 10 percent.
After years litigating access issues, Tyler says he is well-positioned to present the case. “I have come to appreciate that the courts can only go so far, and cannot implement the solution that we need, which is that legislative amendment.”
The issue will become more apparent as the school closure debate again rears its head. “It’s inevitable,” he says. “We are headed for another round of closures. It’s a debate that by its nature is very divisive, but we will ensure that the process is fair and consultations are really consultations, and not a sham.”
On Tuesday in front of EMSB headquarters in NDG, Tyler introduced three candidates endorsing him and receiving his support on Nov. 2. Incumbent Councillor Joseph Lalla is running in Ward 2, which encompasses NDG and Montreal West; incumbent Liz Leaman will run in Ward 1, now comprised of parts of TMR, Côte des Neiges and Outremont; and Fergus Keyes is seeking the Ward 3 seat, covering Westmount, Sud-Ouest and part of Ville Marie.
A former chair of the Centaur Theatre board of directors, Keyes will be invaluable on a board that has demonstrated varying levels of dysfunction, says Tyler. “Fergus is an expert on board governance, and having an expert ‘on board’ will mean less time spent on so much minutiae and leaving management of the institutions to the staff hired for that purpose. A distinction must be made between oversight and management.”n
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