Brampton Councillor Says City Needs To Give More Support to Local Media

Published July 3, 2019 at 1:44 am

A Brampton councillor has spoken out on the issue of the city’s recent vote to support the legal action against Quebec’s Bill 21, saying there was more that the city should be doing.

A Brampton councillor has spoken out on the issue of the city’s recent vote to support the legal action against Quebec’s Bill 21, saying there was more that the city should be doing.

Bill 21, also known as ‘An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State,” designed to secularize the civil service in Quebec by banning the wearing of all religious symbols for most public sector workers. The bill prohibits teachers, police officers, judges and others from wearing items like hijabs, turbans, kippas, and crucifixes in the course of their duties.

Critics have lambasted the legislation passed by Quebec’s right leaning CAQ government as being discriminatory and in violation of basic Charter of Rights principles to freedom of religious expression. The bill was passed by invoking the notwithstanding clause from the Charter, which allowed the Quebec government to override certain Charter rights for up to five years.

A legal challenge to Bill 21 was launched by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), which Brampton councillors later officially supported in a motion during a recent council meeting.

“If we don’t stand up for religious freedom in Brampton which is the most culturally and religiously diverse city in Canada than who will? The values of diversity and inclusion are important to our city. I was pleased to second the motion at today’s Peel Police Services Board encouraging those Quebec residents interested in a career in policing to apply to Peel Regional Police. We are ground zero for multiculturalism. I will continue to speak out for Canada’s multicultural mosaic and religious freedoms,” Mayor Patrick Brown said.

However, Wards 9 and 10 Regional Coun. Gurpreet Dhillon, while he also voted in favour of Brampton joining the legal challenge, said the motion didn’t go far enough, stating that solidarity must be shown through accountability.

“If we want a city that truly reflects its diversity we must first look internally. In its history, Brampton has never conducted a full review or audit of its own inclusion and equity policies,” Dhillon said. “As a person who would be affected by Bill 21 if I lived in Quebec, and as a person who has faced racism, PR campaigns are not enough; we must have solid policy going forward to ensure our residents live in a fair and equal city.”

“How can we use taxpayer dollars for an ad campaign in Quebec when we scarcely buy ads from our own local ethnic media?”, Dhillon added, referring to Brampton approving an ad campaign to lure Quebecers who are interested in working for Brampton’s fire department and Peel Regional Police.

The councillor later added an amendment to the motion to include Brampton’s local ethnic media in the ad campaign, but a request to conduct a full review or audit of the city’s hiring and equity practices was turned down. Dhillon said he would bring back for future discussion at the July 10th city council meeting.

One can perhaps understand some of the accusations of ‘virtue signalling’ when it comes to Brampton council’s decision to take a stand against religious discrimination in Quebec. It’s not as though the council shouldn’t favour such action, but racism still exists in Canada’s ninth largest city despite it being one of the more culturally diverse communities. 

Ironically, one of Dhillon’s own former colleagues landed himself in hot water a few years ago for making some rather racially insensitive comments that brought on accusations of racism on the part of this former councillor. The former councillor subsequently ran for mayor in 2018 and, surprisingly, placed fourth by winning over 5,000 votes.

As for Dhillon’s other point about the city not buying ads from Brampton’s local ethnic media, he may have a point. A June 2018 Committee of Council report showed that, out of an allotted $2,063,393 the City of Brampton had for advertising in local media, half of that (totalling over $1 million) went to the Brampton Guardian while the remaining monies were distributed to other media ranging from a few thousand for ethnic media, to one hundred thousand dollars to ‘MZ Media’.

This may have happened before Patrick Brown took office, but now that he’s in office perhaps the Brampton mayor and the other councillors should reexamined the city’s own policies to reflect that ‘cultural diversity’ recently touted as one of Brampton’s major aspects in speaking out against Bill 21. 

Do you think the city should more evenly spend advertising dollars to Brampton’s various local and ethnic media outlets?

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