Jewish General Hospital will ignore Charter of Values
The Parti Quebecois is disappointed that the Jewish General Hospital is adamant about objecting to the proposed Charter of Values.
Under the PQ government's plan the JGH, like all hospitals in Quebec, would be forbidden from hiring employees who wear "ostentatious" religous symbols, such as kippas, hijabs, turbans or crucifixes.
"If there is one institution in Quebec that we've had in mind all through this process is the Jewish General Hospital and it's out of respect for this part of Quebec patrimony," said cabinet minister Jean-Francois Lisée.
The hospital said earlier this week that the government's proposal is "discriminatory" and that if the bill ever becomes law it would not even bother applying for an exemption allowing a five-year delay in forcing employees to remove their religious garb: it would instead ignore the law completely.
"Since the bill is inherently prejudicial, there is no point in taking advantage of any clause that would grant us temporary, short-term relief," said Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, the hospital's Executive Director.
The JGH was funded and founded by the Jewish community at a time when Jews faced widespread discrimination in society. It has grown to become an all-inclusive pillar of the Montreal community, situated in one of the most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods in Canada, with a worldwide reputation for quality of care.
In recent years the hospital has made headlines for treating notable politicians such as Jacques Parizeau and Premier Pauline Marois, and for treating the cancer of actor Michael Douglas.
Political analyst Jean Lapierre, who himself said the JGH was certain to gain support for its anti-Charter stance.
"They're going to getting a lot of support because you cannot ask an institution like that to deny its history, and so the government is going to have a lot of trouble because i know a lot of people that are going to come out and support the Jewish Hospital, and that is exactly the downside of that Charter," said Lapierre.
Don Macpherson said the actions of the PQ government were already leading toward international scorn and ridicule.
"Not just ridicule, but in terms of what this will do to the reputation of Quebec in general and the sovereignty movement in particular abroad," said Macpherson.
He suggested the fear of international scrutiny may prompt the PQ to rethink its very controversial Charter of Values.
"As long as the controversy stays in Quebec it's not a big deal, but once it gets into the pages of the New York Times, that is when it becomes a real problem."
The JGH said it will ask to present its case at the public parliamentary hearings on the Charter of Values. Those hearings are scheduled to begin on Dec. 14, 2013.