AFT Challenges CFIC to a Debate about Quebec Bill 21


We, Atheist Freethinkers (AFT) sent the following message today to the Centre for Inquiry–Canada (CFIC), challenging them to a public debate about Quebec Bill 21.

2021-10-21, UPDATE, Reply received from CFIC: “Unfortunately, we will have to decline your invitation. At this point, we are not engaging in public debates.”

To CFI–Canada,

I am writing to you today to propose a collaborative event.

Our organization Atheist Freethinkers (AFT) supports Quebec Bill 21. Evidently, your organization Centre for Inquiry–Canada (CFIC) opposes that legislation. We propose that our two organizations organize a public debate on Bill 21 in which a CFIC spokesperson would argue against the Bill and an AFT spokesperson would argue in favour of it.

Here are the conditions which we propose for this public debate:

  1. It will be an in-person event, to be held when the Covid-19 health crisis is sufficiently well resolved that such an event is possible.
  2. It will be held either in Montreal or in Toronto, the precise location to be decided collaboratively.
  3. Attendees will have to pay to attend the event, but the entry fee should be kept low in order to allow maximum participation.
  4. The two organizations will share equally any expenses directly related to the event (site rental, publicity, security, etc.) but excluding any travel expenses.
  5. The two organizations will share equally any net revenue from the event.
  6. Each organization will choose one or two persons to argue their side of the debate.
  7. The debate will be moderated by a mutually agreed neutral person.

We propose that the debate event proceed as follows:

  • The event will begin with a brief introduction by the moderator. We suggest that the moderator, as part of his or her remarks, read an excerpt from Bill 21, specifically Chapter II (section 6) and Chapter III (sections 7, 8, 9) which stipulate the bans on wearing religious symbols and/or face-coverings in some contexts.
  • Followed by a 30 minute presentation by each of the two organizations (the order being chosen randomly).
  • Followed by 15 minutes of rebuttal by each organization, in the same order.
  • And finally, followed by open discussion and debate.

We are of course open to possible revisions to the above plan.

Given the overwhelming importance of this issue and the extent of the controversy surrounding it, we consider it essential that such a public debate on Quebec Bill 21 be held.

Is your organization CFIC interested in co-organizing this event?

David Rand
President, Atheist Freethinkers

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