Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Jews anxious as Quebec moves to ban religious items on public workers

National Assembly votes to remove crucifix CAQ tables Bill 21 against the wearing of religious symbols
Cary Marshall | 31 March, 2019, 20:13

"You can't be promoted or change school boards and wear a religious symbol".

Even though there has been a massive public outcry, not only in Quebec but also nationally - and even with the English Montreal School Board, one of the largest teacher's union in Quebec, ready to file a legal challenge against it and who just yesterday announced they will not adhere to the ban, Premier of Francois Legault and his CAQ government have tabled Bill 21 today that would ban numerous provinces workers from wearing religious symbols.

The full list of people covered by the ban in the version of the bill introduced Thursday specifically mentions police and other peace officers, as well as school principals, vice-principals and teachers.

Effective July 2018, access to full reports will only be available with a subscription. The clause contained within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows authorities to override charter protections for a five-year period.

"What we want is to show all Quebecers that we are also ready to make compromises on the grandfather clause, on the crucifix in order to get as much support as possible", said Legault.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault promised to deliver a religious symbols ban in the run-up to last fall's provincial election. President of World Sikh Organization of Canada, Mukhbir Singh told TOI on Friday "we are deeply disappointed that the Coalition Avenir Québec government has introduced legislation banning the wearing of religious clothing and symbols in Quebec". While the Jewish advocacy organisation B'nai Brith slammed it as "an assault on the fundamental rights and freedoms of Quebecers", the National Council of Canadians Muslims accused its authors of making Muslims "second-class citizens" and hurting Muslim women.

The Liberals, who are in opposition in Quebec now, insisted that the proposal was too extreme, while the country's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also among those who criticised the plan. Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said symbols of all religions are included, no matter how small or whether they're visible.

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Manveer Singh, president of SAD (A) Quebec said that Quebec Bill was not acceptable.

"I remember how I felt when I was younger, when I felt I wasn't welcome", Singh told reporters in Ottawa.

A sign opposing religious attire is displayed during protests by groups La Meute and Storm Alliance in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada November 25, 2017.

Bill 21 is likely to be challenged in court, but the Quebec government appears to believe it has full legal authority to enact the ban.

Among those who would be affected are teachers, police officers and judges.

"The government is encouraging these kinds of ideas rather trying than trying to root them out", he said.

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