Thirteen-year-old Irfan Khan is right where he should be this morning - sitting in a Grade 7 class at Riverdale High School in Pierrefonds learning his lessons in English.
Even better, his 15-year-old brother, Usman, will soon join him in the same school. The addition of the two brothers to Riverdale's rolls represents a triumph for compassion and common sense over mean-spirited, bureaucratic capriciousness.
It's also another victory for lawyer Brent Tyler in his fight to increase access to English-language schools, a fight he has been waging with a notable lack of support from the very bodies who have the most to gain from his triumphs - Quebec's English-language school boards.
Irfan and Usman are the sons of Mohammad Asghar Khan, a Pakistani immigrant who settled in Montreal with his family in 2002. A year later, however, Khan lost his job in a plastics factory and moved to Cornwall, Ont., to look for work. He enrolled his sons, who had spent just a year in a French "welcoming class" here, in English schools, and there the family stayed for three years.
When the Khans moved back to Montreal last year, they were all Canadian citizens and Khan, as was his right, tried to enrol his children in English schools.
But the Quebec Department of Education ordered the children into French schools, a ruling based on neither law nor common sense, but on some vague and unproven apprehension that the Khans had spent three years in Cornwall solely to circumvent Quebec's language law.
On Tuesday, the Tribunal administratif du Québec tossed out that capricious decision and ordered the boys be granted certificates of eligibility for English-language schooling.
The sad thing about all this is that Tyler and the Khans waged this battle almost alone. The Lester B. Pearson School Board did almost nothing to help and seemed content to let the original ruling stand without so much as a whimper of protest.
It's an attitude that's as incomprehensible as it is disgraceful. Expanded access to English-language schools is crucial to the health of Quebec's English-speaking population, not to mention the survival of the boards themselves.
But they seem content to sit on the sidelines and let someone else fight what should be their battles. Until they get some backbone, anglophones should be grateful they have Brent Tyler.