QPIRG Concordia Statement about Bernard Drainville “cancellation”
November 28, 2013, Montréal — Today, Bernard Drainville, Minister responsible for the Charter of Quebec Values (now known as Bill 60), cancelled his scheduled participation in a public discussion, citing “security concerns”.
Drainville’s concerns are transparently false and a distraction. There were absolutely no threats to his personal security or safety. Rather, Drainville was facing the possibility of meeting an audience who would directly confront his ideas, in a format that Drainville could not control. Drainville expressed concerns about “perturbations”; was he seriously concerned about heckles, or tough questions, the kind of stuff he experiences at the National Assembly every day?
The truth is that today’s scheduled event was one of the first times that Drainville would be confronted about the xenophobia and racism that Bill 60 and the Charter debate has provoked, from an intelligent, grassroots audience, in both French and English.
In the words of Karina Chagnon, Board member at QPIRG Concordia: “The Minister’s cancellation speaks volumes about his inability to defend the Charter outside of controlled settings. It also speaks well of the ability of the Concordia community, which is comprised of many people who are directly affected by the discrimination inherent within Bill 60, to quickly mobilize our opposition.”
Christina Xydous, the Volunteer and Administration Coordinator at QPIRG Concordia, adds: “It’s ironic that Minister Drainville wants a debate where people don’t get upset. He won’t participate if he isn’t guaranteed a calm debate. Meanwhile, the people directly targeted by Bill 60 would also like a calm and reasoned debate, particularly women who wear hijab, but they’re instead being scapegoated, harassed and assaulted in their day-to-day lives, and they don’t have the privilege of opting-out whenever they choose.”
Jaggi Singh, the Programming and Working Groups Coordinator at QPIRG Concordia, also highlighted the hypocritical presence of Kathleen Weil, a Liberal MNA and former Minister in the Jean Charest cabinet: “Madame Weil voted for the special law in 2012, which deprived protesters in Quebec of basic rights and freedoms. While we are opposing Monsieur Drainville’s Charter, we also re-affirm our opposition to two-faced politicians like Madame Weil, who has very little credibility in defending rights if she has already voted to deprive them from a segment of the population she disagreed with.”
QPIRG Concordia, a social justice centre with an anti-oppression mandate, will continue to mobilize to oppose the Charter, and is part of a community grassroots initiative called “Ensemble contre la Charte xénophobe”. The basis of unity of that effort is linked here: http://www.qpirgconcordia.org/?p=4687. We encourage both campus and community members to get in touch about ongoing popular education and mobilization efforts against sexism, xenophobia and racism, and Bill 60.
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