'Janettes' rally in support of Values Charter
Published Saturday, October 26, 2013 3:36PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 26, 2013 9:40PM EDT
MONTREAL - Supporters of the Parti Quebecois’ proposed Quebec Charter of Values participated in a rally on a rainy Saturday in Montreal to support measures which would force provincial government employees to remove highly-visible religious symbols while in the workplace.
The rally was organized by the Janette movement, named after Janette Bertrand, an 88-year-old Quebec actress who strongly supports the measures. The march was attended by several thousand, mostly women.
Bertand inspired the movement when she came out in support of the charter, along 20 other high-profile women - many from the arts - on October 15.
That group includes TV personality Julie Snyder, who addressed the march Saturday.
Snyder, who is married to media mogul Pierre-Karl Peladeau, urged the crowd to continue supporting the proposed legislation, which they argue would be a step forward for gender equality.
Former student leader Martine Desjardins described the proposed legislation as, "a good step."
"When you're working for the government, you need to make a choice," she told CTV Montreal. "You need to be responsible for your actions and if you represent the government. You need to respect secularism."
There did not appear to be many English-speaking demonstrators at the rally, but one of them said that his sexual orientation inspired him to support the cause.
"I am given equal rights as a gay man, then the state is speaking to me or giving me services in the clothing of religions that have all this intolerance against gay people. Gay people have suffered through the centuries with religious intolerance and I think there's a problem," he said.
The march was briefly interrupted by three topless women who described themselves as being part of the Femen group. They were closely monitored by police on bicycles as they came to the front of the march wielding signs that read "feminism is secular too."
Along with Snyder, other speakers included former PQ candidate Djemila Benhabib, who referenced politics in Saudi Arabia, while Janette Bertrand also spoke, although she did not march with the crowd.
It was the second march in favour of the charter. The first one, held on September 22, attracted many nationalists sporting the fleur-des-lys and hauling flags commemorating the 1837 rebellion.
Several rallies have been held denouncing the proposed charter, the most recent having taken place on Sunday Oct. 20.
The march ended at about 3 p.m. with a series of speeches at Lafontaine Park.