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Steinbach City Council Approves Resolution On Bill 18

2013 03 john fehrCouncillor John Fehr presents Resolution On Bill 18

Steinbach city council voted 5-2 Tuesday evening to approve a Resolution calling on the province to review Bill 18, the proposed law against bullying. The motion was put forward by Councillor John Fehr.

"We oppose this Bill for the following two reasons. It is not specific as to what is perceived to be bullying and what the consequences are for those who choose to bully and it makes no provision for private schools and other schools to adhere to their faith principles."

Councillor Jac Siemens says, while he has concerns about Bill 18, he could not support the motion.

"It doesn't necessarily represent all the citizens in our community and, if we're going to take a stand as a council, we want to make sure we represent all facets of our community. But more importantly, this is not a situation that needs to be debated at city council. This is in the education field. If any councillor or any individual wants to oppose this, it is certainly their right to write a letter."

Councillor Cari Penner agrees and also voted against the motion because it does not represent the entire community.

Mayor Chris Goertzen says he can support the Resolution because it promotes a discussion that respects others' rights including religious freedom. He adds the letter he writes to the province will be inclusive of the opinions of all residents, not just the one group that has been very vocal on this matter.

"This motion says very specifically that we're going to express the concerns of the community and the concerns are actually quite diverse. We're going to make sure that we are inclusive in what we send to them and, at the same time, express the clear concerns that have been raised. We're really promoting a discussion that involves respect of others. We obviously would like the Minister to review the Bill to make sure it covers off religious freedoms and protection of religious freedoms as well as achieving the goal that is intended which is to eliminate bullying or reduce the amount of bullying that happens in all schools."

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