busing French and English kids to their respective school on the same
buses. This being the kind of thing that gets a politician into trouble in
New Brunswick he was quickly shouted down.
However, one of Cardy's opponents raised an interesting point. Attorney
General Serge Rousselle cited a decision in 2000 regarding whether French
students in Summerside PEI could be bused to the nearest French school
roughly an hour away or whether a school had to be built closer. The court
ruled that busing students that far was unacceptable as "school size,
facilities, transportation and assembly of students... all have an effect on language and culture...". Now, what this has to do
with having French and English kids share a bus I don't know but it does provoke an interesting question about
another schooling question that is currently angering a lot of people.
The province of New Brunswick is currently considering closing the Dorchester and Riverside schools. Both are under-
utilized due to the slow death of rural New Brunswick and the government is looking to cut costs. In the case of the
Riverside school this means that elementary students from Alma will endure marathon 90 minute bus ride both ways
(high school students already do). Now, if the previously-mentioned court ruling is applicable it would seem that forcing
students, especially at the elementary level, to be bused such a distance is not allowed. Even if the Riverside school
remains open rural New Brunswick needs a long-term education plan that takes into account the fact that its population
is not growing and infrastructure becoming more expensive to maintain.
On the issue of duality I think the province is headed in an ugly direction. English-speakers largely see duality as unfair, wasteful and separate from the issue of official bilingualism. French-speakers see duality as a necessary protection of
their culture and inseparable from official bilingualism. Such disagreements are fine as long as both sides can engage
with their opponents and understand their points of view. This doesn't appear to be possible in New Brunswick at this
time as raising the issue is more likely to result in the following scenario:
Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside tweeted "Bilingualism I understand, duality makes no sense. This should be on the table Mr
Premier as we look to save money. You asked." The response from Dieppe Mayor Yvon Lapierre was that the comments
were ignorant and regrettable. He further called for a boycott of a meetings of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
(of which Brad Woodside, is also president) unless he recanted. Woodside also endured an editorial by Alec Bruce of the
Times & Transcript which more resembled the inarticulate ramblings of a Republican Party hack than any sort of
Where does this complete failure of dialogue put New Brunswick in the future? Your guess is as good as mine but I'd
wager on the eventual result being unpleasant.