In Quebec, a law known as Bill 21 prohibits some public servants, including teachers and other government employees in positions of authority, from wearing religious symbols while at work. Per the law, religious symbols could include everything from a turban or a hijab to a visible crucifix. It is a law that has garnered criticism from religious freedoms and charter rights advocates across Canada.
This law has already reared its ugly head a few times — you may recall crucifixes being removed from several public buildings shortly after the bill was passed. Now in a troubling development, a Quebec teacher has been removed from her classroom because her hijab violates the law of the land for public employees.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown committed $100,000 of municipal funding to the legal action against the law that is being launched by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, and called for other municipalities to do the same.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek agreed to match the $100,000 contribution with Calgary taxpayer funds, and added the following statement: "What Quebec is doing is absolutely unconscionable. We are issuing a challenge to other municipalities in this country, asking them to contribute towards the legal challenge to get rid of Bill 21".
While I agree entirely with Jyoti’s sentiment, there are some glaring issues here that must be pointed out.
Jyoti Gondek really needs to pick a lane. City of Calgary employees, firefighters, police officers and many more are losing their jobs because the city if often failing to acknowledge their deeply-held religious beliefs when it comes to granting religious vaccine exemptions. Jyoti is every bit as bad as Quebec in violating people’s rights and religious freedoms — in fact, she might be worse, because she is also engaging in medical coercion while she is at it. Remove the log in your own eye before plucking the speck from your neighbour's, Jyoti.
Another serious concern here is the undeniable religious favouritism that is clearly at play. While churches were being burned and vandalized en masse across Canada, many of these politicians couldn’t so much as utter a word of support for Christian communities. Not to mention the deafening silence coming from Jyoti when two pastors were arrested in her own city, an incident that prompted Senator Josh Hawley to suggest adding Alberta to a religious freedoms watch list.
Now one teacher is removed from her classroom because of her religious attire, and we are suddenly meant to believe that Jyoti, Brown, and company are all devout champions of religious freedom? Perhaps only certain religions' freedoms?
Lastly, our mayors need a serious privilege check. They were elected to manage municipal affairs, not wage ideological battles across Canada. If Jyoti wants to personally fund or crowdfund a legal challenge against Bill 21, God bless her… I would likely even donate. I agree that Bill 21 is fundamentally wrong, I agree that it has to go — but I don’t agree with taking municipal taxpayers' money and funding personal passion projects. Jyoti just raised property taxes on Calgarians, the city is suffering, homelessness and mental illness are running rampant. Jyoti needs to use our municipal tax dollars for municipal matters, as they are intended. The public purse is not the mayor's personal expense account.
To Fatemeh Anvari, the teacher who was wrongfully removed from her classroom because of the bigoted Bill 21, what happened to you was wrong and I hope your legal efforts succeed — but our mayor had no business committing our tax dollars to your cause.
When Jyoti isn’t busy using our tax dollars to fund legal battles in other provinces, she is likely hard at work generating hysteria over non-existent climate emergencies. Please go to NoClimateEmergency.com to sign our petition. While you are at it, use our one-click email option to let Jyoti know you support Canadian energy.