Premier says Charter could apply to private sector

Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois says that as long as the equality of the sexes is respected, there's nothing to stop private companies from implementing policies that mirror Quebec's controversial proposal to enforce public-sector secularism.

The secularism charter, which was stalled when the provincial election was called nearly two weeks ago, would have banned public sector workers from wearing such religious garb as hijabs, kippas, turbans or ostentatious crucifixes.

It was to have been the centrepiece of the PQ's campaign for the April 7 election until it was shoved onto the back burner by persistent questions about Marois' sovereignty agenda.

While popular with many Quebecers, the charter has also been fiercely opposed and prompted large street demonstrations against it.

Marois even got an angry earful about the charter from one young woman who she met while campaigning in a shopping mall in recent days. Video of the encounter went viral on YouTube.

Marois says talking about the implementation of charter-inspired rules in private companies is purely hypothetical because the charter itself hasn't been passed into law.

However, she acknowledged Monday the private sector could embrace it in the future.

Although the provincial charter would only apply to government-run institutions, the private sector would not be entirely spared in the absence of its own regulations.

Some companies under contract to the province, such as in the information technology sector, would have to abide by the charter's dress code.

Marois said Monday that provided companies meet the benchmarks that ensure the equality of men and women, companies ``will be free to implement the policies that suit them.''

``There will be no obligations for anyone except to ensure that the values of equality between men and women that are throughout our society.''

Meanwhile, Francois Gendron, who served as deputy premier in Marois' minority government, said the government can't help the private sector implement the proposed charter in whole or in part if it is adopted.

He said the government can't interfere in the way businesses are governed.

``It does not concern us if they want to (apply the charter),'' he said impatiently at a news conference. ``It does not concern us, you understand that?....The private sector does not concern us. It is a charter for the public sector and the parapublic sector.''

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  1. JohnH- posted on 03/17/2014 10:48 PM
    Forget about the charter. Keep asking questions about the "Sovereignty Agenda." This is nothing more than a weak effort to distract voters from the real agenda. Move along there is nothing to see here. Sound familiar?
  2. ssm posted on 03/18/2014 02:16 AM
    So a factory could forbid the hijab, turban, kippa, kirpan, but allow the beard plus could keep the cross on the wall and over the building because it merely represents the heritage of the building or the owner? That's alright for Marois and the Parti Quebecois? Perhaps victims of these unbalanced intolerances should appeal directly to the United Nations and bypass the federal government of Canada, avoiding some sort of kneejerk reaction vis a vis provincial federal jurisdiction scuffles.
  3. AnneFB posted on 03/18/2014 08:18 AM
    Am I the only one who's seeing the frightening potential for a brand new "Office de la Charte des valeurs"? I mean, if they require an "office de la langue francaise", to ensure that their spies are everywhere, isn't this the next logical step? By giving the private sector freedom to interpret and apply the proposed charter, surely they'll also need to set up more watchdogs. Francois Gendron is quoted as saying that "the government can't interfere in the way businesses are governed". Funny how they already do this when it comes to language...what's to stop them from spilling over into religion?
  4. Sam posted on 03/18/2014 01:08 PM
    I had to laugh when I read: "Meanwhile, Francois Gendron, who served as deputy premier in Marois' minority government, said the government can't help the private sector implement the proposed charter in whole or in part if it is adopted. He said the government can't interfere in the way businesses are governed."
    REALLY?!?! hasn't he heard of the minority language restrictions that the government imposes on businesses under Loi 101?
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