Quebec legislature adopts education bill in contentious early-morning vote

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The Coalition Avenir Quebec has successfully forced through its education reform following an early-morning vote on a bill that abolishes school boards and immediately kicks many elected commissioners out of their jobs.

With 60 votes in favour, 35 against and no abstentions, Bill 40 was adopted around 3:30 a.m. and became the fourth piece of legislation the Coalition Avenir Quebec has rammed through the legislature using closure, a procedural mechanism that limits debate.

The legislation transforms school boards across the province into so-called service centres, and abolishes elections for board commissioners in the French-language system, who will be replaced with appointed members.

A last-minute amendment to the bill eliminated a transition period for elected commissioners in the French-language system, immediately kicking them out of their posts.

The bill permits the English-language system to elect members of its newly created services centres, in keeping with the minority language and schooling rights outlined in the Constitution.

Teachers' unions and school board associations across the province have widely criticized the bill and have suggested they will challenge it in court.