On Jan. 12 the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council voted to pass the Motion Regarding SSMU Opposition to Quebec Bill 62 and the Motion Regarding Interim Provision for Board of Directors Reporting. Furthermore, faculty committees and SSMU executives gave reports outlining key updates and plans for new projects.
Council voted to pass the Motion Regarding SSMU Opposition to Quebec Bill 62, which calls for SSMU to publicly denounce the introduction and passage of the law. Bill 62, introduced in June 2015 by Minister of Justice Stéphanie Vallée, would ban face-covering religious symbols–such as niqabs–for public servants while they’re at work. The motion was moved by Vice-President (VP) External David Aird and President Ben Ger.
“Bill 62 is essentially a watered-down version of what we’ve seen previously under the Parti Québécois government with the Quebec Charter of Value, which called for [the removal] of all religious symbols from government officials,” Aird said. “We see it as a human rights issue [….] The Bill is essentially creating a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Councillors present at the meeting expressed support for the motion. Environment Representative Tuviere Okome provided her input on the necessity of the motion.
“Quebec has always had a strange view on the religion of Islam and this is what this Bill is, it’s perpetuating […] Islamphobia in Canada,” Okome said.
The motion passed with 95 per cent in favour and 5 per cent abstaining.
Council also voted to pass the Motion Regarding Interim Provision for Board of Directors Reporting, which will introduce a new mandate for the interim SSMU Board of Directors (BoD) reports. The BoD will be required to provide regular and immediate updates to the Legislative Council by submitting a detailed report for each legislative meeting about the matters it has dealt with since the last report.
The Ad-Hoc Democratic Governance Review Committee, which was created in November 2016 to review the BoD and the General Assembly, will still provide a complete report on the BoD by the end of the academic year. Arts Representative Igor Sadikov summarized why the Interim Provision was necessary, despite the role of the Ad-Hoc Democratic Governance Review Committee.
“This is something we thought would be beneficial immediately, [rather than] having to wait for the committee to complete the rest of the report,” Sadikov said. “This interim division would [allow] for [the BoD] to submit a report to council for each council meeting.”
The motion was passed with 95 per cent in favour and 5 per cent abstaining.
VP Operations Sacha Magder gave updates about the SSMU building, including recent successes with Gerts Bar.
“For the first time ever, we have Carnival, Science Games, and E-Week hosting events at Gerts, which is something I’ve been working on since last summer,” Magder said. “I’m so happy to see these events held at our student bar again.”
VP University Affairs Erin Sobat reported on progress that is being made with the McGill Policy against Sexual Violence, which was approved was approved by the McGill Senate in November 2016.
“[We’ve created] an advisory committee to oversee the implementation of everything in the Policy, [such as] setting up the new office, changing the referral procedures, and looking at educational and training initiatives that are mandated,” Sobat said. “But there is also something we asked for back in May [2016,…] called a Panel for Campus Study, that will specifically look at other policies and procedures that are outside of the scope of the new Policy, particularly disciplinary procedures […] and regulation of conflict of interest, which addresses things like student-professor relationships.”