Two of Montreal's most prominent French-speaking universities have announced their position against the PQ's Charter of Values. Directly targeting workers in the public sector, including professors and teachers, the Charter of Values would prohibit people from wearing overt religious symbols or clothing. Despite being secular institutions, these universities view the Charter, otherwise known as Bill 60, as an impediment to personal freedom that would hurt the everyday lives of students and educators alike.

Luce Samoisette, rector of l’Université de Sherbrooke, has already told  Le Devoir that the Charter’s proposed ban on the wearing of religious symbols by public workers while on the job “cannot function” and is "inapplicable" to the academic institution. 

it is the role of the University to confront all these ideas [inhibiting free expression]. - Luce Samoisette

The University of Montreal holds a similar position. After hosting a University assembly on Monday, with one hundred people in attendance, a general consensus was agreed upon that Bill 60 "does not meet [the university's] needs," as stated by spokesperson Mathieu Filion.

UQAM is the latest to jump on the anti-Charter bandwagon. Rector Robert Proulx described Bill 60 as "inapplicable and...create[s] inequities." Proulx was sure to point out that he, nor UQAM, has any issues with the aspects of the bill regarding secular institutions and gender dynamics, but declares the restriction of wearing religious symbols would go against UQAM's principles on academic freedom.

But what about Montreal's anglophone universities? Back in September Suzanne Fortier, McGill's newest principal, similarly stated how Bill 60 goes against McGill's academic principles. On November 21st, McGill's senate unanimously rejected the Charter, with no one speaking in defense of the bill. Concordia University has yet to announce an official statement, waiting to see the National Assembly's decision, but the announcement of the university's Part-time Faculty's position against Bill 60 gives you an idea of what the student body thinks.

So nearly all of the major university-level educational institutions have rejected or voiced an opinion against the Charter of Values. Universities are meant to be a hub of higher learning, where secular ideas grow, open debate can exist, and exist as a beacon of forward thinking. If these universities, all of which are secular institutions, are rejecting the Charter of Values, shouldn't the government take that as an indicator of Bill 60 being a bad idea?

What do you think Montreal? Are you a student who agrees with your university's decision? Do you think academia would benefit from the Charter of Values? Let us know in the comments below.

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