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This article was published 24/5/2013 (1128 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
STEINBACH Credit Union has removed a petition opposing Bill 18 from its Steinbach branch, CEO Glenn Friesen said Friday.
An employee had placed the petition in the customer area.
"Please be assured that the staff member's actions in this instance were not authorized," Friesen said by email.
"We do take this seriously and can assure you that we have dealt with this appropriately. Steinbach Credit Union does not condone the use of business resources to express and/or establish support for personal opinions/agendas," Friesen said.
The Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics of Manitoba had complained to the credit union after learning an employee had placed the petition where it would be available to clients at the branch at 305 Main St. in Steinbach.
"It has come to our attention that one or more of your employees has been circulating a petition asking the Hanover School Division to publicly oppose Bill 18, Manitoba's proposed anti-bullying legislation. At least one copy of this petition is available for signing at the Steinbach Credit Union office in Steinbach," HAAM told SCU in an email signed by president Donna Harris and outreach co-ordinator Patrick Morrow.
"Our group holds freedom of speech, conscience, and religion in the highest regard. They are fundamental rights guaranteed to all Canadians and therefore we would never try to deny anyone their right to sign this petition," they said.
"However, SCU now serves a growing number of diverse communities, including Winnipeg. Thus, it is in the interest of the community and the general public who do business with SCU to understand if having this petition available for signing on its premises indicates that SCU has an official position on Manitoba's Bill 18," the HAAM leaders said.
Bill 18 is the controversial anti-bullying legislation Education Minister Nancy Allan hopes to have in place by the time school opens in September.
While Bill 18 is wide-ranging and deals extensively with cyberbullying, its most controversial provision has been the requirement that any public school and any private school receiving public funding must accommodate any student wishing to start a gay-straight alliance in the school.
A prayer meeting opposing Bill 18 drew 1,200 people to Steinbach Christian High School in February.
In his Feb. 24 sermon to thousands of parishioners at Southland Church in Steinbach, Pastor Ray Duerksen specifically cited Hanover and Steinbach councillors, Hanover school trustees, doctors in the regional health authority, MLAs and MPs, police, firefighters, teachers and media members and said: "God did not place you in your position because you are the only person who can do your job that well.
"If you don't do it, God will set you and I aside, and raise up someone who will."
The Hanover School Division has said it will comply with Bill 18 when it is enacted, and has accommodated student Evan Wiens in his wish to establish a gay-straight alliance at Steinbach Regional Secondary School.
Steinbach and the RM of Hanover municipal councils have urged Allan to review the bill while the Garden Valley School Division in Winkler has urged Allan to change some clauses.