Quebec consensus? Opposition parties want to ban religious symbols
Published Thursday, September 7, 2017 6:35PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 7, 2017 6:53PM EDT
Every opposition party in Quebec is pushing to ban authority figures from wearing religious symbols at work.
On Thursday a parliamentary committee heard the Parti Quebecois's proposed amendment to Bill 62, the legislation proposed on religious accommodation and neutrality.
Bill 62 was first tabled in 2015 and would prevent public service employees from wearing face-coverings such as the niqab., and impose rules for those receiving public services in government offices or getting medical treatment.
Agnes Maltais of the PQ is proposing an amendment that's in line with the hardline suggestions from the 2008 Bouchard-Taylor commission's report, which recommended barring those in positions in authority, including judges, prosecutors, and police officers, from wearing religious symbols on the job.
Maltais said strict rules banning religious symbols are necessary because the courts are more accommodating than the average Quebecer.
"It puts in law which is already accepted by tribunals and which the Quebecers don't accept. There's a gap between what have decided the tribunals, like to accept the kirpan, which is not accepted in the National Assembly by example, and what the people do,"said Maltais.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec supports Maltais's measure and wants to go further, prohibiting teachers from wearing religious symbols.
Quebec Solidaire also supports the PQ's amendment and wants to do more to impose secularism inside the National Assembly, including banning the recitation of any prayer or reading from a religious text, and removing the crucifix from the legislative chamber.
One of the authors of the Bouchard-Taylor report has since changed his mind about its recommendations.
Following the massacre at the Quebec City mosque in January, Taylor said that the acrimonious debate has been bad for Quebec and led to more harassment of minority groups, especially Muslims, which led to his change of heart.
"I think we cannot afford to take new steps that could renew this effect of stigmatization," wrote Taylor in an open letter in February