As many of you know, this year has seen the Quebec government pass a number of laws restricting immigration and freedom of religion. Notably, the CAQ passed Bill 21, an Act Respecting the Laicity of the State, on June 16th. This law, the third iteration of its kind, forbids public sector workers in fields that are deemed to grant them a “position of authority” from wearing religious symbols while at work. Those who were already in such positions at the time the bill was passed are allowed to remain in their current positions, but are no longer protected if they decide to accept a promotion or transfer to a different position.
These restrictions have a number of implications: Bill 21 shows that the government cares more about radical secularism than the freedom of workers from harassment by restricting their ability to transfer positions; that it cares more about imposing its view of what a Quebecker should look like than the current labour shortage of teachers; and that it does not realise, or perhaps does not care, that banning (visible) religious symbols does not affect everyone equally, but rather disproportionately affects racialized individuals such as Muslim women and people of the Jewish and Sikh faith. Certainly, the presence of many far-right groups that come out to oppose anti-Bill 21 demonstrations this year seems to indicate that the CAQ knows very well that this law does not, as they claim, give everyone equal treatment.
In solidarity with the members of our own community that have been affected by the government’s policies and the community organizations that are slowing the implementation of the law by fighting it in the streets and in the courts, many student associations from around Quebec have decided to adopt mandates against Bill 21 (see below). They seek to indicate to the Quebec government that the youth, the future of this province, do not believe this vision of Quebec is the way forward. In particular, CEGEP and university students have for several months planned the early steps of a mass mobilization against the anti-migrant reforms of the CAQ, and most recently a series of mass actions to take place today, Saturday, and Monday.
In this instance, a strike is meant to demonstrate that we will not accept business as usual, going on to work in industries that keep the province running, so long as our friends and neighbours are left behind. It means that we will not allow a government that thrives on fear-mongering and hatred to have its way while being completely unchecked. While Bill 21 is indeed currently before the courts, those affected by this bill are feeling its consequences now. It is time to lift one another up, to show that we are not afraid, and to show that we will support those that need it.
While certain faculties have decided to hold full strikes, physically discouraging students from entering their morning classes on the 17th, we respect the ability of each faculty to determine how they want to show support for those affected. If your faculty is not on strike, please consider walking out of your morning classes and joining your peers on McTavish Street today, January 17th, at 12 p.m., to hear moving speeches about the fight against Bill 21 and to march through the streets of Montreal until we reach the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation, and Integration.
Join us in demanding:
- That the CAQ repeal Bill 21 in its entirety;
- That university administrations across Quebec take a more hardline stance against Bill 21 and support their affected members. For McGill, this means
- a mass e-mail to staff that recognizes the effect Bill 21 has on its members, unlike the e-mail released to the student body on June 18th;
- a commitment to panels and other programming to educate students about the effects of Bill 21; and
- a commitment to offering and communicating additional culturally-sensitive wellness resources to those at McGill affected by the bill.
Other events include a Public Assembly on Immigration tomorrow, January 18th, at 1 p.m. in Leacock 232, and another day of class disruptions (no march planned) on Monday, January 20th.
- SSMU: Motion Regarding Condemnation of Bill 21 2019-10-10
- L’ADEESE-UQAM: “Projet de loi 21 : L’ADEESE dénonce un outil de contrôle social et de stigmatisation des femmes musulmanes”
- Concordia Student Union: “Statement on Bills 9 and 21”
- L’AELIÉS: “Projet de loi 21 – Position et réaction de l’AELIÉS”
- FEUS : “Bill 21”
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