A proposal that focuses on banning hijabs, turbans and other religious symbols in all public workers in Quebec has come under great scrutiny and criticism while the Parti Québécois government strategizes to table a controversial ‘Charter of Quebec Values’ in the fall. In a report issued by a news agency on Tuesday, it was disclosed that the minority government of Premier Pauline Marois is considering prohibiting religious symbols in the entire public sector, ranging from public-school and university teachers to daycare and hospital workers, with only few exemptions.
QMI Agency revealed that these rules will not be applied to the prominent crucifix in Quebec’s National Assembly as it is defended by successive provincial governments as an artifact of Quebec’s heritage. Apart from that, it is reported that wearing an “ostentatious crucifix” on the job will be prohibited. While the minister responsible for the Charter of Quebec Values, Bernard Drainville, was unavailable to comment on the matter, a prominent intellectual and co-chair of a high-profile commission that studied the issue of religious accommodations in Quebec in 2007, Charles Taylor, highly condemned the decisions.
Mr. Taylor matched these proposals to Russia’s restrictions on gays and labeled Quebec’s possible move as “Putinesque.” He emphasized that all Quebec government institutions must be neutral as all state employees are entitled to freely express their religious convictions. He stated that “Hydro-Québec isn’t Hydro-Catholic, Hydro-Muslim, Hydro-Atheist,” but “employees are individuals. They are free.” He alleged that the reported proposals are “absolutely draconian” and would create obstacles to immigrants’ integration in Quebec.
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