BLOG >
PTU President's Personal Position on the Act Respecting the Laicity of the State
by Matt Wilson, President  |  2019-03-29
This law is not representative of the Quebec I believe in. As a teacher, I always sought to ensure that my classroom was an open and inclusive space, where students of all backgrounds, creeds and identities could safely come and learn to grow into well-rounded citizens. Similarly, our profession is greatly enriched by having teachers of diverse backgrounds, creeds and identities coming together to educate these students. I am saddened that our government has introduced legislation that goes against celebrating this diversity. Furthermore, the invocation of section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the notwithstanding clause) and the fact that this law puts aside our own Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms was done to prevent any direct legal challenges to this new law and to limit a response from teachers that the government knew would come. Beyond just feeling saddened, this law angers me. Regardless of our own personal opinions, the fact remains that this law seeks to circumvent the acquired rights of teachers.

Despite this legislation, I think it is critically important to be united on this issue. I feel that when one part of the teaching body is hurting, the entire teaching community suffers. As employees of a minority language school board, we need to stand firm with minority groups when their fundamental rights are being questioned. For all the teachers who feel targeted by this law, please know that I firmly believe in your right to express your faith through what you wear, and I believe that the government is overstepping its moral authority in imposing this legislation. I will do everything I can to fight this legislation, using both the legal and extralegal means at our disposal. If you are a teacher who does not wear religious symbols, please choose to stand alongside your colleagues who do. Please look out for teachers who are feeling targeted and please participate in any of the local demonstrations of support that will be scheduled. More than anything, I ask that we all stand together for the values of diversity and inclusion that we teach our students in our classrooms.