CSU and ASFA Adopt Position Against Bill 21

Both Student Associations Sign on to Letter Addressing Provincial Government

  • Protesters denounce Bill 21 at anti-racism demonstration. File photo Elisa Barbier

Text Here The Concordia Student Union and Arts and Science Federation of Associations took positions against the provincial government’s proposed secularism bill at their respective council meetings on Wednesday and Thursday.

Both the CSU and ASFA have also signed on to a letter addressed to Coalition Avenir Quebec, aiming to garner support from public institutions and pressure the government not to pass Bill 21.

The letter was written by McGill students and faculty.

The letter says “according to the bill ‘laicity […] is based on four principles: the separation of state and religions, the religious neutrality of the state, the equality of all citizens and freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.’

However, the Bill itself goes against these principles as it is inherently incompatible to advocate for equality of all citizens and freedom of religion while simultaneously infringing on the rights of religious minorities to practice their faith.”

It also highlights recent tragedies ­­such as the Quebec City mosque shooting, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, and the New Zealand shooting massacre.

It states that these massacres were fueled by, “hateful, discriminatory, and divisive rhetoric that governments such as the Donald Trump administration and the CAQ consistently spew.”

“This position is needed because the union needs to be in solidarity with its affected students, mainly religious and racial minorities,” said CSU councillor Sam Kaizer. “This bill affects them beyond work, and promotes more discrimination in their daily lives.”

He said that unions have the power to influence society and government and believes the CSU should use its power to protect its members in this way.

If it passes, Bill 21 will prohibit workers in the public sector with authority, notably police, judges, and teachers, from wearing religious symbols at work. The proposed law has been met with opposition from school boards and student groups.

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“The letter is an affirmation that Bill 21 marginalizes our students and their communities,” said Kaizer. “It may appeal to the majority of Quebecers, but it encourages division in a time where we must be united against economic inequality, climate change, and white nationalism.”

ASFA’s motion, presented by ASFA councillor Mylene Baghdisar, also aims to pressure Concordia to take a stance on the issue.

“I’m going to have my final stage in 2020 and the stress and anxiety is unbearable because they want to pass the law June 15, what am I going to do?” said student Ikram El Mashoubi to a roomful of ASFA councillors.

“The first thing that popped into my mind wasn’t working in Quebec, to be honest, it was am I going to be able to find a placement? Am I going to be able to do my final stage? Am I going to be able to get a degree that I sacrificed time and money and a lot in the past 3 years? That’s an immense stress.”

“I was born in Montreal, and to be excluded like this is a pain I would not wish upon my worst enemy,” she added.

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