April 21, 2019

Montreal school board to ignore latest Quebec religious symbols law

31 March 2019, 08:17 | Edward Lowe

CAQ tables Bill 21 against the wearing of religious symbols

National Assembly votes to remove crucifix

QUEBEC-The Quebec government tabled legislation Thursday to prohibit public sector employees in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols at work. The proposed ban has even made global headlines, but that seems to have no influence on the Quebec government who has fatuously promised to use the Notwithstanding Clause to stop any legal challenges to Bill 21.

Sikhs living in Canada have mainly objected on the section of bill that outlaws wearing of religious symbols by public workers.

"My objective with the bill on laicity is to achieve consensus, I accepted to make certain compromises".

Quebec Premier Francois Legault on March 28, 2019 at the legislature in Quebec City. "I don't want things to skid out of control, for people to be aggressive or arrogant".

France-Isabelle Langlois, Amnesty International's director for French-speaking Canada, said the Coalition Avenir Quebec bill contravenes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

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"We need to be the least divisive possible", concluded the Premier. On Wednesday night, the English Montreal School Board adopted a motion declaring its refusal to implement legislation restricting the wearing of religious symbols.

The Montreal-area resident said the proposed legislation is "highly discriminatory" and implies people who wear religious symbols don't have the same rights as others.

But the bill directly affects religious minorities such as Muslims and Sikhs, who will be prohibited from openly displaying their faith and working in what the government considers positions of authority.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his opposition to the legislation on Thursday.

"It's unthinkable to me that in a free society we would legitimize discrimination against citizens based on their religion", he said Thursday.

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There is also a grandfather clause, exempting school administrators, teachers, peace officers, lawyers, justices of the peace and some other legal officers for as long as they remain in the same position with the same employer.

But the bill contains provisions to shield it from court challenge. Additionally, he said, the sweep of people captured by the bill goes much further than originally anticipated.

The crucifix has hung above the Speaker's chair in the national assembly since 1936, and the government said last October it would not remove it because it is an important part of Quebec's heritage.

"Are we prepared as a society to tell an aspiring police officer that she will never enjoy the privilege of protecting her community?"

Idil Issa, vice-president of the Fondation Parole de femmes, which represents women from visible minorities, said Muslim women wearing the hijab will bear the brunt of the law's impact.

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