September 20, 2013
The current Quebec government has launched their intentions to pass a Charter on Quebec Values. Predictably, this manoeuvre has not only generated a disheartening public debate, it has also been the source of negative international press for the province. The result has been a mix of confusion, rancour and suspicion which has done little more than serve as a distraction for a minority government that otherwise has struggled to produce more than a meager record of legislative achievement.
CUPFA, alongside our sister unions in the province, takes the position that we cannot support the proposed Charter.
While the initial attention of the Charter on Quebec Values has been drawn toward its proposed “dress-code,” the proposal is not limited to a question of religious display. The Charter’s provisions further discriminate against freedom of choice, undermine our multicultural diversity and will have the effect of further ghettoising minorities. Moreover, as faculty members it also undermines our Collective Agreements, and is in opposition to the basic principles of academic freedom. As an example, among the numerous proscriptions in the Charter, a prerequisite course with a predetermined syllabus and content on modern Quebec history and cultural values will be imposed and required for all students attending Cegeps and colleges. In solidarity with all academics, faculty, and minority groups, the Association rejects the imposition of a Charter of Quebec Values for the following reasons, the proposed Charter:
• runs contrary to the Canadian Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in particular the fundamental right of freedom of choice and freedom of thought;
• runs contrary to the academic freedom of faculty and institutions of higher learning;
• runs contrary to the CUPFA Collective Agreement;
• runs contrary to other government policies at both the federal and provincial levels that seek to respect diversity and multiculturalism;
• runs contrary to the public interest by creating intolerance and the marginalisation of cultural minorities rather than building bridges of understanding and celebrating diversity;
• serves to escalate the costs of court challenges that will ensue if the new Charter is adopted; and
• serves to escalate tensions and disunity among citizens.
The Association encourages members to read the following document (in French) for further information and to join our colleagues who have added their voice to the petition “Quebec Inclusif” being circulated (petition link below).
The complete text of the document/petition can be found by copying and pasting the following link into your browser: http://quebecinclusif.org
Our Association celebrates the cultural diversity of the membership, those of the students we serve, and the fundamental freedom inherent with academic expression in an educational institution. We embrace the diversity of our community and support efforts to engage one another, to communicate with, and to learn from one another. Our desire as an Association is to reach outward and to encourage others to do so as well.
David Douglas, Ph.D.