Opposition unanimously condemns PQ's values charter
Quebec's opposition leaders are unanimous in their condemnation of the PQ's plans for a Charter of Quebec Values.
Reports this morning hinted at some of the measures to be contained in the document — among them, religious head coverings such as burqas, turbans, hijabs, and yarmulkes would be forbidden in public offices, including courts, police stations, hospitals, or government offices.
Christian crosses would be banned as well — except for the crucifix that's been hanging in the National Assembly since the Duplessis era. That's considered an icon of cultural heritage, rather than a religious symbol, and would be exempt.
Liberal leader Philippe Couillard says instead of hiding behind a political trial balloon, the minister in charge of citizenship and immigration, Bernard Drainville, should explain to Quebecers what his real intentions are.
CAQ leader Francois Legault is taking the government to task for looking to take Quebecers to an extreme they don't want to go.
And as for Francoise David, the de facto leader of Quebec Solidaire, suggested the proposals are contradictory. David, a former head of Quebec's largest feminist group, the Fédération des Femmes du Québec, says the government wants to include women, while excluding them — and their head coverings — at the same time.
The proposal has also raised hackles from constitutional experts and anti-racism advocates.
Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey says the proposal, as reported, would instantly run afoul of both the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights, and be subject to court challenges for a long time.
"I don't want to say it's in bad faith, but it's clearly illegal under present laws," Grey says.
And Fo Niemi, the head of the anti-racism group Centre for Research Action on Race Relations, suggests between the proposed values charter and Bill 14, the equally controversial update to the province's language laws, Quebecers are in for a hot autumn.
"When we read what's appeared in the paper about this so-called charter of fundamental values, and then we look at Bill 14 to revamp Bill 101, in which there's a recommended removal of the concept of ethnic minorities, there should be concerns, nationwide, about what's happening to minority rights in Quebec," Niemi says.
There's been no direct comment on the reports from the PQ.