MNAs promise more respect as they debate religious neutrality
Published Thursday, February 2, 2017 2:11PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 2, 2017 7:05PM EST
With the new session of the National Assembly set to begin, MNAs will face a swift challenge to promises of toning down the rhetoric about religion.
Bill 62 is the Liberal government's proposed legislation on the religious neutrality of the provincial government, and it has been harshly criticized since it was tabled.
Critics say it unfairly targets Muslim women who wear the niqab, a scarf that covers the face, because it would require anyone seeking or delivering a government service to have their face uncovered.
A decade ago that document suggested that teachers, police officers, judges and other authority figures be barred from wearing religious symbols.
Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée said the bill's goal is to deal with security, identity, and communication by outlining neutrality and specifying the grounds for religious accommodations.
She said the bill is making progress, but will not be pushed forward in the next week out of respect for the men shot while praying at a mosque.
"First we'll take at least this week to take a pause. I think we have to have a lot of respect for the victims of the attack," said Vallée.
"Now as far as Bill 62 goes we will be continuing, there are further steps. We will be presenting and having discussions in parliamentary commission and I hope that his discussion will be respectful."
The Parti Quebecois and the Coalition Avenir Quebec Others say Bill 62 is not strong enough because it does not discuss the separation of church and state, does not specify the province must be secular, and would not impose a ban on religious symbols proposed by the Bouchard-Taylor commission.
However both parties said they will take steps to be more polite and respectful in the weeks and months to come.