We're open to 'improving' charter: Lisée
The Quebec government says it's open to changing its controversial charter of values after receiving more feedback from citizens.
The comments come one week after the release of the plan, which has touched off an acrimonious debate on minority rights.
That promise to listen, and potentially amend the religion plan before it's tabled in the legislature, echoes statements from the Parti Quebecois preceding last week's release.
Quebec's minister responsible for Montreal, Jean-Francois Lisee, now says the government is willing to "improve'' the plan after listening to public input.
But Lisee is also defending the government plan in its current form. He says it's modern and progressive.
A poll this week suggests the plan has the support of most Quebec francophones, but that the support levels have dropped considerably.
The PQ wants to forbid public employees from wearing visible religious symbols including hijabs, turbans, yarmulkes and larger-than-average crucifixes.
Lisee says he believes the proposed charter may not be the best for the rest of the world, but it is best for Quebec.
He urged Quebecers of all stripes to have a respectful debate and, in particular, to be sensitive to those Quebecers who wear symbols.
He made that request after reporters showed him an online video of a woman in a Muslim headscarf being berated recently on a Montreal city bus.
A man shouted at the woman: "This is our home! With Marois, we're going to take off your toque.''
The Quebec human rights commission says it's detected a recent rise in hateful incidents beyond what's been reported in the media. Over the weekend, there were also reports of a Quebec City woman who was told to remove her veil in a shopping mall and whose son was spat upon.
Lisee says it is "intolerable'' that anyone would make negative comments or gestures to citizens wearing those symbols.
"The debate we're having is about the neutrality of the state — nothing else,'' he said.