Pear­son board slams Char­ter of Va­lues

‘Fear-mon­ge­ring’ bill goes against be­liefs

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

The Les­ter B. Pear­son School Board has joi­ned a gro­wing num­ber of edu­ca­tio­nal ins­ti­tu­tions, CEGEPs and uni­ver­si­ties in slam­ming the PQ go­vern­ment’s so-cal­led Char­ter of Va­lues.

Cal­ling the pen­ding law “un­foun­ded” and “over­bea­rin­gly dis­cri­mi­na­to­ry,” the brief cal­led Bill 60 “com­ple­te­ly un­ne­ces­sa­ry.”

In a Dec. 19, 2013 let­ter sub­mit­ted to the Que­bec Na­tio­nal As­sem­bly Com­mit­tee on Ins­ti­tu­tions, the board made its fee­lings clear.

Sta­ting their op­po­si­tion to “all the pro­vi­sions of Bill 60,” LBPSB chair­man Suanne Stein Day said there was “no iden­ti­fiable pro­blem that this le­gis­la­tion is loo­king to ad­dress.

“Fur­ther­more, the pro­po­sed res­tric­tions on the wea­ring of os­ten­ta­tious re­li­gious sym­bols would ir­re­pa­ra­bly dis­turb the har­mo­ny and balance we have nur­tu­red with our tea­chers, staff and stu­dents.

“There is no pos­si­bi­li­ty of our Board adop­ting a po­li­cy, as would be re­qui­red by sec­tion 19 of the law if Bill 60 is adop­ted.”

The let­ter went fur­ther, cal­ling the pro­po­sal a “fear-mon­ge­ring, hate-pro­mo­ting bill (that) goes against eve­ry­thing the En­glish pu­blic school sys­tem and the Les­ter B. Pear­son School Board be­lieves in, stands for and teaches in our class­rooms.

“We be­lieve in open­ness, in­clu­sion and ac­cep­tance. We be­lieve that by tea­ching chil­dren about the dif­fe­rences and si­mi­la­ri­ties bet­ween people of dif­ferent re­li­gions, cultures and tra­di­tions we will en­rich our stu­dents’ lives, not exert un­due in­fluences on them.”

Past dis­cri­mi­na­tion?

The board al­so took ex­cep­tion with sec­tion 40 of the bill that in­cludes the term “pri­ma­cy of the French lan­guage.

“It is not a stretch to say that Bill 60 is the “Speak White” of 2013 as if to say there is only one way to be a Que­be­cer and the “Speak White” of to­day means you have no right to ma­ni­fest your cultu­ral and re­li­gious be­liefs in the pu­blic sphere,” she said, re­fer­ring to fa­mous poems that have high­ligh­ted the plight of French Ca­na­dians and, la­ter, new­ly ar­ri­ved im­mi­grants to Ca­na­da. Both main­tain that past wrongs do not condone cur­rent dis­cri­mi­na­tions.

The board al­so re­jec­ted the go­vern­ment’s claim that the bill would en­sure equa­li­ty for wo­men.

“In the pu­blic school sec­tor, where the num­ber of wo­men em­ployed far ex­ceeds the num­ber of men, the bill en­sures that those who want to fol­low their re­li­gious or cultu­ral tra­di­tions will be for­bid­den to work. Vio­lence against wo­men in­cludes control­ling what they can wear and what they can’t.”

The brief was al­so sent to Sou­langes MNA Lu­cie Char­le­bois, Vau­dreuil MNA Yvon Mar­coux, as well as MNAs Geof­frey Kel­ley, Yo­lande James and Phi­lippe Couillard, among others. The En­glish Mon­treal School Board and the Que­bec En­glish School Board As­so­cia­tion were al­so co­pied.

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