Toronto council backs fight against Quebec’s Bill 21, calling it ‘contrary to the values of Torontonians and Canadians’
The Ontario government and the Toronto City Council have taken a crucial step toward holding Ottawa and Quebec to account in a bitter and divisive provincial bill targeting the Catholic Church.
The legislation, Bill 21 – which will take effect July 1, 2019, and will allow for the church to be more tightly controlled by the government – has already sparked calls from the province’s main teachers’ union for a teachers’ strike.
“We are worried,” said Alex Vignarcoutes, a spokesperson for the Ontario Education Association (OEA), explaining that “it goes against the values of Torontonians and Canadians.”
“With the power to tell them what to do, to tell them to leave, to tell them to wear blue vests, to tell them to leave the services of the police in our communities, that is a power that is inconsistent with our city’s values,” she said.
“The OEA is very concerned that the OPP will come into our community to serve us – in this case, enforce and protect our Catholic school board by the public safety.”
This is significant, because the police are the last line against crime in Toronto – and many fear their job is being taken over by the government.
“The bill has put that institution’s future in jeopardy,” said Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 14, Toronto Centre-Rosedale). “It just seems really odd that in a bill that was introduced less than two years ago, there’s been no consultation with the police.”
Wong-Tam, who has been an outspoken critic of Bill 21, has called for a citizens’ assembly to review the bill, along with a protest that she expects will come to the city’s downtown core on Wednesday July 14.
“It’s really concerning, because it seems to be quite out of step with our values,” she said. “And