Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed: The Fight Against Bill 21 Must Not Give In

The Chelsea teacher’s case highlighted how little is being done at the federal level to oppose Quebec’s religious symbols law.

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You have to love the honesty and innocence of children. Take, for example, third-grader Elin Wilson from Chelsea, Quebec, who drew a drawing that has gone viral. He drew it for his teacher Fatemah Anvari, who was transferred to a non-teaching position due to Bill 21. Next to the picture was a letter telling Anvari how “amazing” her hijab is and that she was the “best teacher of all time. “


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Children do not know how to discriminate; it is something that is learned.

The past week has been difficult for many Canadians, especially Québec Muslims and members of other religious minorities. We have been reminded, once again, of the ugly and divisive nature of Bill 21. It is a law that does not belong here (or anywhere).

But something changed this week, even for me. Of course, I have always been aware that Bill 21 is discriminatory. The situation in Chelsea showed how bad he is. It also highlighted how little is being done at the federal level to oppose it.

For me, what changed this week was that I felt a shift of anger within me toward our federal government.

The relative silence of federal leaders on this issue is both disturbing and disappointing. I know how valuable Quebec votes are at election time. Quebec has a significant number of seats in the House of Commons. But I also know that human rights are human rights.


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Prime Minister François Legault has urged federal leaders to “stay out of it forever. Not for the moment, but forever. “

They should not comply. As long as Quebec remains part of Canada, our federal government must do everything possible to uphold the rights set forth in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Ultimately, this benefits not only members of minorities, but also those of the majority society.

It is unforgivable and outrageous that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, even if he says he opposes the law, is only saying that he would not rule out federal intervention in a legal challenge to Bill 21. That amounts to saying that he is thinking about doing something. . Presumably, he doesn’t want to provoke a backlash from those who would accuse him of interfering in Quebec politics.


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NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who wears a turban and therefore would not be allowed to teach in Quebec, was reluctant to accept Bill 21 during the recent federal election campaign. But he said earlier this week that his party would support federal intervention in a judicial challenge to Bill 21.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is deafeningly silent, though he’s been reported to say Bill 21 is a Quebec problem. One would think that anyone wishing to govern a major political party would consider it worthy to defend the rights of minorities in any of our provinces.

Here in Quebec, the situation is equally disappointing. Quebec’s liberal leader Dominique Anglade has been frustratingly quiet. This week, she was quoted in Le Devoir as if to say that he would not advocate that the West Quebec School Board placed Anvari in a teaching position, suggesting that the laws should be respected. I hope that the official opposition will come out against Bill 21. Certainly, they cannot be accused of interfering in a provincial affair.


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Somewhere in all of this, an innocent teacher was relocated within her school but away from her beloved students. However, this has helped reignite the fight against this divisive bill; an important one that should not yield until / unless this law is repealed.

If the federal government does not join the fight against Bill 21, it is complicit in the harm inflicted on religious minorities in Quebec.

Anyone who stands in solidarity with third graders in Chelsea should write to their MNA and MP, express their concerns and demand that action be taken.

Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of CanadianMomEh.com, a lifestyle blog.





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