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Jessica Nadeau July 24, 2012
The court of appeal rejects Juripop’s request
The court has refused an appeal from Juripop, a legal organization representing student associations, regarding the judgment that refused the suspension of certain of articles contained in bill 78. We will have to wait for a hearing on the substantive issues involved to determine if the law is valid or not.
“It’s only a partial surrender,” says the president of the Federation of Quebec college students (FECQ), Eliane Laberge.
“We know that our chances with this request for an injunction were not great,” says Felix-Antoine Michaud of Juripop, “But since the petition on the substantive issues won’t be heard before December at the earliest, we have nothing to lose.”
According to him, it is very rare that an injunction is granted before the debate of the substantive issues has been heard. “It was a long shot,” said Michaud in an interview.
It involves two separate motions. The first, which was argued in June, tried to invalidate a certain number of articles before the case was heard on the main issues that were in the second motion, which contested the constitutionality of the law in its entirety.
Juripop’s argued that the suspension of articles 16 to 21 of the special law was urgently needed. These articles refer to the right to protest and to the financing of student organizations.
Last June 27th, Francois Rolland of the Superior Court refused to grant an interlocutory injunction on the articles in the law, which brought things back to the debate on the substantive issues which will be heard later.
Juripop hoped to get an appeal for that judgment. To do so they had to make a case in front of the same court to get authorization. The court heard arguments for both sides Wednesday and delivered a judgment yesterday.
“The actions brought by the claimants contesting the constitutional validity of certain sections of the “Act to enable students to receive instruction from the post secondary institutions they attend” bring up thorny and important questions which will be the subject of a thorough legal debate once the superior court hears the merits of the case,” Judge Francois Doyon has written in his judgment.
“However, do the importance of these questions and the effects of the law justify permitting the claimants to solicit the appeal. I don’t think so.”
A Tough Break
For Juripop, as for the student groups, it comes as a blow but the effect is limited.
“It’s certainly true that we would have liked to have won, but that changes nothing,” says Michaud. ”This first judge’s decision doesn’t give validity to the special law and the appeal doesn’t confirm it either. We’ve only been told that the criteria for appealing the decision in favor of the injunction is actually pretty high.”
They are, however, encouraged by the comments of the judge who twice mentioned importance of holding the case concerning the substantive issues as soon as possible.
That’s what Juripop and its clients, the student associations and unions, hoped for as well.
The Sword Of Damocles
“We have this sword of Damocles above our heads that we really hoped would have been removed by this appeal court judge,” says Yanick Gregoire, executive vice president of the Federation of University Students (FEUQ).
They refer to the discretionary power of the government, which may, if it wants to apply the law, cut funding for student associations that are found guilty under the law of blocking access to classrooms when classes resume in August, for example.
Eliane Laberge of FECQ is similarly concerned: “Student associations risk being penalized. This is obviously a factor that should be taken into consideration by the students during the students’ general assemblies, which will be held in the first week of classes. This will be the source of some interesting debates.”
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
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