PQ would bar hijab from civil service with secularism charter
Published Tuesday, August 14, 2012 2:36PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 14, 2012 8:33PM EDT
TROIS-RIVIERES—Pauline Marois is promising to end Quebec’s reasonable accommodation debate if she is elected premier on Sept. 4.
With a new Quebec Charter of Secularism, a Parti Quebecois government would seek to strike a balance between protecting the province’s values and allowing for different culture to interact.
Under the proposed charter, civil servants would be barred from wearing any religious symbols, including the controversial wear of the hijab. The law would also prohibit citizen’s from refusing to be served by a member of the opposite sex.
“In Quebec, the state will be neutral. That is absolutely important. Next, the equality between men and women is a value that is not negotiable,” said Marois, at a campaign stop in Trois-Riveries.
Despite the rhetoric, the party leader said that Quebec’s cultural symbols would not be impacted, including Christmas trees and the crucifix that has hung in the National Assembly since 1936.
"We're not denying our past," said Marois.
The cross above the speaker’s podium in the blue chamber exposed a rift in the PQ as the candidate for the riding of Trois-Riveires, Djemila Benhabib, announced on Tuesday that she hoped the crucifix would be torn down. An immigrant from Algeria, Benhabib defended her stance by stating that the state should show no preference for any religion.
Marois was quick to distance herself from the candidate’s stance, but Benhabib said if elected, she would be ready to battle the issue.
In Montreal, some were asking for clarification to the proposal.
"Would she really prevent a Sikh wearing a turban to work for the civil service? Does her policy apply to religious Jews and would it prevent them from serving in municipal councils or in the legislature because they have a skullcap?" said Marvin Rotrand, a member of Montreal's executive committee.
Coalition Avenir Quebec leader Francois Legault was quick to criticize the planned crackdown.
"We have, all together, to learn from each other. And I think that Mme. Marois is going too far," said Legault
Premier Jean Charest, however, took on Legault, running ads on YouTube called "Francois Legault's Contradtictions."
"Are you ready?" he asked. "Because he'll tell you the opposite of what he told you today."