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Lisa-Marie Gervais August 23, 2012
The hunt for the red squares continues with public service employees. Six markers employed by the Ministry of Education were suspended from its Montreal offices on Fullum Street after wearing the symbol associated with the student movement against rising tuition, learned Le Devoir.
Wednesday, two markers were notified by the Human Resources Division that they could not return to work if they wore the red square. On Thursday, four other markers who wore the square in solidarity experienced the same fate.
One of them, Michèle Tremblay, says she is stunned by what happened to her. According to her, it is the employees of another department of the Ministry of Education (MELS) who have denounced her and her colleagues.
Early this May, a memo was circulated internally in the Ministry of Education’s offices, stating that officials have a “duty of loyalty and fidelity to [the Ministry of Education].” This memo was written because several of the employees were wearing red squares.
Michèle Tremblay, who also worked on contract for the Ministry of Education last May, wore the red square almost every day, but she was not bothered. “Our offices were in André-Grasset Cégep and we were among other markers. This perhaps shocked people less.”
This time, Mrs. Tremblay, who is a contract employee, had been called to the Ministry’s Fullum Offices to work all week. A memo was sent again in August repeating the May one and calling employees to behave ethically.
“As an employee of the Ministry you have an obligation to display restraint, that is to say, to act with neutrality in the exercise of your duties and reserve in the public expression of your opinions. This obligation applies in your personal and public lives,” was written. “Also, you have the obligation of loyalty and allegiance to the constituted authority that requires you to defend the interests of the ministry.”
Mrs. Tremblay commented that this time rather than talking about “symbols associated with the student movement,” the guidelines are clearer. “It’s the red square which is mentioned. It said in the letter,” she notes. This explains why no one has complained about the fact that she wore an Anarchopanda T-shirt two days this week.
The Ministry of Education has not provided an explanation to Le Devoir.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.