Demands to replace minister in charge of Charter of Values
Published Friday, January 17, 2014 12:20PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 17, 2014 1:37PM EST
Another day, another two groups coming out against the provincial government's proposal to redefine human rights in Quebec.
Quebec Inclusif, the assembly of sovereignists and federalists opposed to the Charter, is asking Premier Pauline Marois to put the Justice Minister in charge of the Charter of Values.
The group said that Bertrand St-Arnaud would be "more competent" in dealing with the many legal issues that have been brought up concerning the PQ proposal to rewrite the province's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Asked Friday if she trusted Bernard Drainville to continue handling the Charter of Values, Marois refused to answer the question.
"We said we gave you any answer on the subject which is on the table now, that's all," said Marois.
Charter will sow confusion
Also on Friday, Quebec's Human Rights Commission said the Charter of Values would create more problems than it would solve, pointing out the number of reasonable accommodation complaints in Quebec is very low.
The group says the Charter violates both the letter and the spirit of Quebec's human rights laws, and also is likely to create confusion and flood courts and tribunals with complaints.
The Human Rights Commission said it cannot see how the legislation will introduce any clarity, even though that is the government's stated justification for the law.
The Commission also said the government has failed to understand secularism, the separation of church and state, and the neutrality of government with regards to religion.
Many groups, including Quebec's Bar Association, said that Bill 60 would violate many existing laws and come into direct conflict with the Constitution when it comes to respect for religious rights and freedoms.
Bernard Drainville, the minister in charge of the Charter of Values, has dismissed all legal arguments against the Charter and said when it passes it would not even require the use of the notwithstanding clause -- an option that allows provincial governments to violate the Constitution for several years.
Quebec Inclusif and other groups have repeatedly asked Drainville to provide the legal arguments indicating the Charter would respect existing law, but Drainville has refused.
For his part Minister St-Arnaud said he is not handling the Charter of Values because Premier Marois asked Drainville to be in charge.
Letters against Lisée
Following an opinion piece published in the New York Times, the second written by provincial minister Jean-Francois Lisée defending the Charter of Values, the respected newspaper has published a several rebuttals.
Letter writers said that the Charter of Values is a case of "specific discrimination against women" even while it pretends to be for the equality of women, that Lisée doesn't appreciate the difference between government workers not favouring a political party and having religious faith, and that the legislation is inherently biased in favour of Christianity.
They also point out that the Charter is, at its core, a document that has served to inflame and divide Quebecers.
Among the letter writers denouncing the Charter and Lisée's selective honesty are federal transport minister Denis Lebel, University of Ottawa legal professor Pascale Fournier, and Kyle Matthews of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University.
This week the state of New York passed legislation banning discrimination against workers for the "wearing of any attire, clothing, or facial hair in accordance with the requirements of his or her religion."