SSMU Statement Regarding Bills 9 and 21

SSMU Statement Regarding Bills 9 and 21

To All McGill Students,

The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) condemns the inherently xenophobic nature of Bills 9 and 21 in the strongest terms. We commit to actively opposing these bills in our capacity to do so and pledge to support community-based initiatives and resources dedicated to stopping and/or mitigating the bills’ academic, professional and emotional impact on the student body and on society as a whole.

On Sunday, June 16, Québec’s National Assembly passed the Coalition Avenir Québec’s (CAQ) Bill 9, overhauling the provincial immigration process and giving the CAQ the power to define its own criteria for accepting or rejecting applications for permanent residency and citizenship. Specifically, the bill aims to prioritize applicants based on their suitability for the labour market and on their ability to speak French – rather than prioritising those in precarious situations and those eager to reunite with their families. This specification cannot reasonably be isolated from Francois Legault’s campaign promise to expel immigrants who failed to learn French within 3 years of arriving in Québec. The bill must thus be read through the lens of a divisive language issue and an espousal of homogeneity over the celebration of diversity. It reduces one’s worth to their ability to assimilate, and ties this to their contribution to the job market, outlining all too well the interaction between the oppressive forces of late-stage capitalism and racism.

The next day, the CAQ hastily passed Bill 21 which, among other things, forbids public servants from wearing religious symbols during the performance of their duties. Though the CAQ introduced a “grandfather clause” exempting those currently occupying these positions, this protection does not extend to students currently engaged in studies, stages, or internships that lead to one of these positions, nor does it continue to protect the worker if they accept a promotion. Moreover, the government added a last-minute provision mandating the creation of a police-like government body to surveil the implementation of the bill, likely in response to municipalities and school boards asserting their local sovereignty by refusing to impose the racist and sexist law on their employees.

On April 5, 2019, following the introduction of Bill 21, the SSMU released a similar statement. In this statement, we firmly denounced the proposed bill, outlined the members of the McGill community most affected, and called into question the “values system” upon which the bill was supposedly founded. To be clear,  Bills 9 and 21 promote xenophobia, racism, and sexism, and act to fuel bigotry and white supremacy under the guise of secularism and economic growth. While the bills ostensibly target only public sector workers and immigrants, their effects reverberate through our society as a whole. Contrary to the logic of the CAQ, in no version of reality do Bills 9 and 21 lead to a safer and more inclusive world.  

We recognize that this statement is not sufficient. On our own, the Students’ Society of McGill University cannot remedy the harm done by the passage of these bills. As a student union, we have an obligation to our community – in particular, the marginalized members of our community targeted by these bills – and feel that this obligation is best carried out through both advocacy and support.

With regards to advocacy, we hereby call for the following:

  • That the federal Cabinet exercise their power of disallowance to prevent Bills 9 and 21 from being enacted into law.
  • That the McGill administration release a new statement in response to Bill 21 that: includes a condemnation of Bill 9; explicitly acknowledges the xenophobic, racist, and sexist nature of Bills 9 and 21 and their role in fueling bigotry and white supremacy and apologizes for this ommission in its original statement; and assumes responsibility for the impact of Bill 21 on the current and future employment options of many of its students by altering its “policies and practices” accordingly.

On June 17, it was announced that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims would be challenging Bill 21 in the Québec Superior Court. A number of protests across Québec have already been staged. Articles are being written; communities are being organized. The people of Québec are fighting back, and we unequivocally support these efforts.

A list of on- and off-campus resources for those directly or indirectly affected by the passage of Bills 9 and 21 can be found below. In addition, we offer up our time and service to members of the community who may require administrative assistance in organizing their own support group or initiative. If this interests you, please email


This list is far from exhaustive. In addition,  most SSMU-run clubs and services are unfortunately on recess over the summer, and will resume their activities at the beginning of the fall semester. The following resources are still in operation:

3495 University Street (2nd Floor), Montréal, QC H3A 2A8 / (514)-398-4104


3460 Stanley, Montréal, QC H3A 1R8

2520 Laval Road, Ville St. Laurent, QC H4L 3A1 / (514) 331-1770

430 St. Roch, Montréal, QC H3N 1K2
(514) 270-6600



(514) 398-6792

Sanchi Bhalla I Vice President (Internal Affairs)
Adam Gwiazda-Amsel I Vice President (External Affairs)
Madeline Wilson I Vice President (University Affairs)
Bryan Buraga I President
Sam Haward I Vice President (Finance)
Billy Kawasaki I Vice President (Student Life)

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