Taking a stand against Bill 60: Hampstead, CSL, universities throw down gauntlet
COTE SAINT-LUC -- The city of Cote Saint-Luc, the town of Hampstead and two french universities are all taking stands against Bill 60 and in favour of religious freedom.
Several religious leaders and hundreds of residents gathered in front of Cote Saint Luc city hall Monday to send a unified message to the Quebec government – that democracy means protecting the rights of minorities.
“I just think the law is so odious and I think that my residents were getting nervous. They were getting upset, some of them, even telling me they were considering leaving Quebec because they're made to feel unwelcome here,” said Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather.
The event started with several seasonal lighting rituals, including the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree, as cultures and religions mixed.
“What a beautiful occasion to have these mixed faiths gather to celebrate,” said Father Peter Laviolette, who took part in the ceremony with several rabbis.
Also invited to attend were the residents and mayors of Hampstead and Montreal West.
Many referred to Bill 60 as not the Charter of Values, but instead the ‘Charter of Shame.’
“This has really stirred up a great deal of prejudice and a great deal of bigotry - everybody's nervous. I wouldn't want my kids wearing a kippa outside of Montreal,” said Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz of Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem.
The rally did light the way towards a common goal, said one demonstrator.
“It's very good to finally see people gathering together.I've been having the feeling that many of us are very upset about the charter and not feeling good about it and Quebecers who are against this, but I've been feeling like we haven't been mobilizing, so I feel like this is the first step,” she said.
Hampstead throws down gauntlet
The town of Hampstead passed a resolution Monday saying the provincial government's Bill 60 was racist and immoral.
Mayor William Steinberg proposed the resolution, which was passed unanimously, that the Charter would not be enforced within city limits because it would be an unjust law that violates multiple human rights declarations, including those of Quebec, Canada and the United Nations.
The town's resolution agrees that the state should be religiously neutral, but says the Parti Quebecois has confused separation of church and state with religious persecution.
Universities denounce attack on freedom
L'Université de Montreal and l'Université de Sherbrooke are also speaking out against the Charter of Values.
At a board meeting on Monday UdeM members voted on a measure saying the Charter should not be applied on school grounds if it is ever passed.
According to a university spokesperson the consensus was that the Charter did not answer the school's needs.
In Sherbrooke rector Luce Samoisette has told Le Devoir that the Charter would lead to a litany of nonsensical double standards.
She provided the example of two people working in a research lab, and said according to the proposed legislation a student on a bursary could wear a veil, while a paid employee could not.