By Kevin Woodhouse
The Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) released a statement last week concerning the PQ government’s proposed Bill 60, which was recently referred to as the Charter of Values, as “unnecessary”.
In the statement, QPAT acknowledged that the change of religious to linguistics school boards 15 years ago, essentially made schools secular and that “The equality of women and men is already well established in both the Quebec and Canadian Charters of Rights. In this context, any further changes or protection are unnecessary and will be harmful to schools.”
QPAT president Richard Goldfinch noted that in terms of religious accommodation, English public schools addressed those issues “decades ago and those clauses have stood the test of time and no further clarification is needed. We certainly have not had significant issues that require a law.”
When asked why the minority Péquiste government, would propose a bill that might never see the light of day, Goldfinch told The Suburban that the charter was likely a tool “to get votes but we hope the PQ is above vote getting but it really is hard to come up with another reason for the bill.”
Goldfinch added in the press release that “the last thing we need is legislation telling our members what they’re allowed to wear. Certainly, QPAT will defend the rights of its members to their jobs.”
“Helping our members is part of our mandate and we will defend any members who would be affected by the bill’s implementation,” Goldfinch said. “We would defend them in court if need be.”
One of the most glaring problems with the proposed bill is that it goes against what educators in Quebec schools have been teaching for years in religious and ethics courses: tolerance.
“Teachers have used the concept of tolerance as their main component and the proposed legislation runs counter to one of the most important things we teach in schools: tolerance of others and their beliefs, so long as these beliefs pose no danger or harm to anyone. Quebeckers have come from different backgrounds for hundreds of years. The law should not be used to enforce a narrow view of who a Quebecker is and what she or he looks like,” said the QPAT president.
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