If a new law is passed by Quebec, women wearing headscarves will not be allowed to become teachers. (iStock)

Quebec to suspend constitutional rights to ban religious symbols

Share

A furore has erupted over the government of the province of Quebec plan to override charter guarantees and forbid many public sector employees from wearing religious symbols at work. Legislation tabled today would apply to new teachers, judges, prison guards, police officers and others the government deems to be in positions of authority.

Challenges already launched

Few public servants wear such symbols and the group mostly likely to be affected are teachers wearing hijabs. A school board in Montreal has already said it will refuse to implement the legislation and a teacher’s union has filed a lawsuit to stop the government from counting the number of teachers who wear religious symbols.

The proposed law would run counter to Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a few ways. “The content of the law in terms of telling certain public servants that they cannot wear religious symbols would…obviously limit freedom of religion, says Robert Leckey, deal of the faculty of law at McGill University. “Because we can see that it’s particular religious groups that would be affected it would probably also limit the right to equality or to protection from discrimination on grounds such as religion.”

The proposed law would also bar someone wearing the Jewish kippa from seeking a civil service job in Quebec. (iStock)

Notwithstanding clause stands for 5 years

Any government has the right to invoke the charter’s notwithstanding clause which allows it to pass a law which disregards charter protections for a period of five years. Nine lawyers including Leckey have written a letter to the Quebec government to remind it that the clause is to be used only in “exceptional” cases.

“The set of people who will be directly impacted by this law is very small,” he says. “Fundamentally it’s a group of women…wearing headscarves who want to become teachers…this law is targeting them. I think that given these intense harms visited on a small minority group, I would say why do it in this case, why would you do it now?”

The government argues that it was elected on a promise to stop public servants from wearing religious symbols at work. But lawyers say that constitutional rights are put in place precisely to protect minorities from actions of the majority.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is “unthinkable…that we would legitimize discrimination.” (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press/file)

‘Unthinkable…(that) we would legitimize discrimination,’ says prime minister

Asked to comment on the proposed legislation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that “Canada and indeed Quebec…we are a secular society. We respect deeply people’s rights and freedoms including freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion.

“And it is unthinkable to me that in a free society, we would legitimize discrimination against citizens basesd on their religion.”

(photo: Lysanne Larose)

Listen
Share
Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*