Quebec to ram through legislation banning religious symbols, limiting immigration
Published Friday, June 14, 2019 8:59AM EDT Last Updated Friday, June 14, 2019 7:37PM EDT
The CAQ has ordered MNAs to work this weekend in order to pass legislation restricting immigration and banning religious symbols.
The two pieces of legislation have generated protests and are expected to quickly wind up in court.
Government house leader and minister of Immigration Simon Jolin-Barrette, who is shepherding both bills, blamed the opposition for "systematically blocking" the legislation.
He added that the bills are "for the public interest" and for the "common good."
"Since the beginning the Liberal party decided that they did not agree with these two bills and they decided to block them. That's the name of the story," said Jolin-Barrette.
Premier Francois Legault said he expected that the legislation banning religious symbols would put an end to a decade of debate over reasonable accommodation.
"I think it's good for what we call the vivre-ensemble, for the way we deal together, all Quebecers, that this be settled and that we turn the page. People have been requesting this action for 11 years and there would be a danger not to answer to this request from the vast majority of Quebecers," said Legault.
Many opposition MNAs said they don't know why the government is rushing legislation that will restrict the rights of citizens.
Sunday's session will focus on Bill 21, which will ban many public employees including teachers , police officers, judges, lawyers, MNAs holding certain cabinet positions, and others in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols while at work.
This will mostly affect the small number of women who wear hijabs in Quebec.
The law includes many exemptions such as not applying to daycare workers, and also has a grandfather clause so that existing employees will not be affected.
The legislation will invoke the notwithstanding clause and so will need to be renewed in five years because it violates the Charter right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
On Saturday the government plans to invoke closure on Bill 9, which will toss out immigration applications from 18,000 people, all of whom began the process to become Canadian citizens years ago.
Once Bill 9 becomes law their application fees will be refunded and they will have to start again.
Despite the labour shortage in Quebec, the CAQ wants to cap the number of immigrants in Quebec at 40,000, gradually increasing it to about 52,000 annually in four years.
Last year roughly 52,000 immigrants became citizens in Quebec.