Quebec to ban religious symbols from public institutions

Posted By: Michel Boyer · 8/20/2013 5:34:00 AM

Watch for sparks to fly when the proposed Charter of  Quebec Values is formally introduced this fall.

The Marois government has decided it wants all forms of religious symbols banned from all public institutions.

This morning's Journal de Montreal says the PQ wants to ban conspicuous religious symbols such as Islamic headscarves, Jewish skullcaps, Christian crosses and Sikh turbans from government offices, public schools, the courts, government-funded daycare centres and hospitals.

"This legislation applies right in the face of both the Canadian and the Quebec charter," said constitutional lawyer Julius Grey. "The jurisprudence is very consistent, you have to accomodate these things, reasonably."

The charter would apply only to employees and certain religious institutions, who could obtain a "right of withdrawal" that would have to be renewed every five years.

However the charter would also require that in certain cases, such as in the courts, participants would have to remove any face covering such as a niqab or burqa.

"The idea is to move towards a more republican French-type model, and there is also a political element to it," said Stephen Slimovitch of B'Nai Brith. "To pick up the vote from those who are completely against religion."

CJAD's political analyst believes said the topic may lead to another identity-related election.

"The government will want us to talk about that, instead of the economy, " Jean Lapierre said. "Now, this is going to be for the opposition not to get trapped into that."

The Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions, Bernard Drainville, has said the charter will provide clear rules and a framework on how to manage religious accommodation in Quebec.

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