Parliamentary hearings on the Charter of Quebec Values begin next week, but many groups are making their positions public now.

The EMSB said incidents of racism and xenophobia have increased ever since the Parti Quebecois proposed legislation restricting the freedom to wear religious symbols, and says the government has essentially given approval for the worst elements in society to show their hatred.

"Bill 60 is precisely what personifies bullying as far as we're concerned," said Commissioner Syd Wise.

The school board said Quebec's true values include tolerance, and points out that all schools in the province are legally required to have anti-bullying programs which teach students to be tolerant and respectful of others.

"It's something we can't tolerate because we don't teach those type of values. The values that we teach have to do with respect for one's fellow student," said Wise.

“I think it's a horrible, horrible piece of legislation,” said Merton Elementary School principal Razel Candib. “It encourages racism, it encourages antisemitism, it encourages xenophobia.”

Institut du Nouveau Monde cannot support all measures

Another group, the Institut du Nouveau Monde, said that while many of the proposals in Bill 60 are innocuous and supported by all, there are certain measures which are an affront to social justice.

INM said there is a consensus that Quebec is a largely secular society that is able to make reasonable accommodations, and that everyone agrees that someone working for the government or using government services should have to show their face.

However when it comes to banning religious symbols the group said the PQ is acting on fear -- either of Islamism or of a growth of the role in religion in society.

INM said it is obvious that introducing the Charter of Quebec Values and fostering the harsh, partisan debate on the issue has not been the best move by the provincial government.

Stop Circumcision Quebec wants more restrictions

A third group, Stop Circumcision Quebec, said the Charter of Values should do more than just ban the wearing of religious symbols by government employees and contractors: it wants the government to ban circumcision.

The organization says circumcision is a religious rite that mutilates children, and should not be tolerated in a modern society.

Several countries have debate whether circumcision of males should be prohibited by law, but all countries allow in, and some have passed legislation explicitly allowing it for religious reasons.

Government hearings on Bill 60 begin Tuesday Jan. 14 in Quebec City.

Yves Michaud stirring pot again

Meanwhile an elder statesman of the separatist movement says anyone who doesn't like the proposed Charter of Values should leave Quebec.

Yves Michaud recently made headlines for saying the Bloc Quebecois should dissolve in order to stop wasting the energy of the sovereignist movement.

The former Quebec diplomat to France said that the Charter is basic common sense.

"I favour the Charter as it stands, and I don't think it goes very far at all," said Michaud.

He went on to say that religious accommodations were a "cancer" and that a secular society should never make any compromises.

"Will we wait until we are threatened until we do something?" Michaud told the Canadian Press. "It is a cancer, yes it is, because a normal society, politically, cannot tolerate any form of compromise with religion."

Quebec Inclusif, which opposes the Charter of Values, said the provincial government should denounce Michaud's statements, instead of being silent and pretending they are part of a civilized debate.

In 2000 the National Assembly passed a unanimous motion condemning Michaud because he called B'Nai Brith an extremist group opposed to Quebecers and sovereignty.