Resist divisions, says Charles Taylor in reversal of position on reasonable accommodation
In the wake of the attack on the Quebec City mosque, the co-chair of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation has changed his view.
In an open letter Tuesday, McGill University philosophy professor Charles Taylor wrote that he is urging the government to resist any legislation that could create further divisions.
Taylor’s letter comes at a time when the government is putting forward Bill 62, which would ban religious face coverings for anyone giving or receiving any Quebec services.
Nine years ago, the Bouchard-Taylor Commission made several recommendations about religious accommodation in the province.
One of the key recommendations was related to authority figures like Crown prosecutors, judges and police officers and said they should not wear religious symbols if they worked in those domains.
Taylor said at the time he offered his qualified support for that recommendation because it reflected the tenor of the times, but he now is backing away altogether.
Things have changed since 2008, he said.
First, the definition of who is in authority has changed – now it extends to include day care workers or teachers – and that is not what they envisioned at the time.
He also blames the PQ’s proposed Charter of Values that he said left a stigmatizing effect on the population.
The charter provoked some hate and may have caused some violence and he said it’s not beneficial to open those wounds now.
Part of the reasoning for his change in opinion comes from the Quebec City mosque attack, because he saw of the coming together of people after that incident.
Premier Philippe Couillard said he was pleased about Taylor’s recommendation.
“I see it as a very significant event. It’s a major communication from Mr. Taylor,” he said. “It adds to our opinion and our conviction that we should not institute discrimination for access to work in Quebec on issues related to dress code. We’ve said this many, many, many times. And to see that Mr. Taylor agrees fundamentally with us on something like this is welcome – but we’ve always said and we’ve repeated that we’re not going to barter our convictions or principles.”
Taylor also wrote that he urged the parties or politicians to not try to compromise on Bill 62 to make political headway.