March 4, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 80  

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Quebec-like sign law at U of T gone

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

The Students’ Administrative Council at the University of Toronto has reversed a controversial decision made last Friday which banned election posters in languages other than English or French.

According to SAC President Ashley Morton, the original decision was met with what he called an “outcry,” coming from not only students but the community.

“The intention all the way along was that our chief returning officer speaks only two languages; we never permit posters with slander and we can’t determine that if our CRO doesn’t understand [the posters],” he said.

Morton said the initial idea to ban the posters was introduced by two members of the executive, and was approved four votes to one.

He said the response to the original decision was the biggest factor in the reversal. “[It was] the outcry from students,” Morton said, explaining how three of the original votes in favour of the ban switched to the other side.

“I was the one who voted against it in the first place,” he said. “I think it’s an unreasonable restriction of free speech.” Morton also noted that before Friday’s vote, there had been no complaints about posters in other languages.

Under the new regulations, candidates wishing to put up foreign language posters must file a translation, done by a professional or professor at the university, something Morton said he still found unfair, as it would still cost students money.

Jane Stirling, spokesperson for U of T, said response to the policy was up to the students. “The university doesn’t really have a position on the issue; it’s one for the students to decide themselves,” she said. “[The decision] doesn’t go against any of the university’s policies one way or the other.”

“Western doesn’t have any policies on the language of election posters,” said Adrienne Kennedy, VP-campus issues for Western’s University Students’ Council. “No one has ever asked if they could use a foreign language on a poster, so it’s never been an issue.”

—with files from Maureen Finn



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