Petition launched to get Westmount to publicly defy secularism charter

There are better ways to fight charter, mayor says

A Westmount woman says she wants to make sure that her city joins the list of municipalities that plan on defying the PQ's secularism charter, should it ever become law.

Like many, lawyer Marina Sharpe is opposed to Bill 60, saying it violates basic human rights — particularly the bill's contentious Section 5, which ban public sector workers from wearing religious clothing.

She has now launched a petition for Westmounters to sign, hoping her city follows the lead of Hampstead, which has passed its own resolution stating it would not comply with the legislation.

The city of Westmount, and the 15-member Association of Suburban Municipalities — led by Westmount mayor Peter Trent — are already on record as publicly opposing the charter. Neither body, however, has said they will openly defy the charter.

"I think it's a moral issue, and I felt a moral obligation to take a stand against it," Sharpe says. "I suspected a lot of people in Westmount will feel the same, and that's why I started this petition."

Trent, meantime, told CJAD news that while he's generally not a fan of Internet petitions, he suggests Sharpe could find better ways to channel her opposition to the charter — including, by convincing francophone Quebecers to reject it.

"Strategically and politically, it's not a very wise idea to engage in civil disobedience," Trent says. "What we should be doing is saying 'we'll take it to court, we'll fight this based on the unconstitutionality of this piece of legislation, or potential piece of legislation, and most importantly, try to convince the rest of Quebec that this piece of legislation doesn't make sense."

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  1. Sam posted on 01/07/2014 02:43 PM
    Seems like the ideal time for municipalities who wish to remain under the protection of the concepts of the Quebec, Canadian, and UN charters of rights and freedoms, to explore the routes of separating from the yoke of the Province of Quebec and achieving some independent status as city provinces. Is there any other way to flourish?
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