Science

Quebec introduces bill banning religious symbols

Quebec introduces bill banning religious symbols”

More broadly, the wearing of religious symbols in public-sector workplaces has been the subject of debate in Quebec for over a decade.

As someone already in the education system, she is protected by a grandfather clause in the bill as long as she keeps teaching within the same school board.

Numerous advocacy groups have spoken out against the ban. President of World Sikh Organization of Canada, Mukhbir Singh told TOI on Friday "we are deeply disappointed that the Coalition Avenir Québec government has introduced legislation banning the wearing of religious clothing and symbols in Quebec".

Sikhs living in Canada have mainly objected on the section of bill that outlaws wearing of religious symbols by public workers. That includes a cross, kirpan, hijab, turban, kippa or anything similar. We fear that this ban will have a trickle-down effect into the private sector and young Sikhs who are born and raised in Quebec will find it even more hard to find jobs in the province. It does not define "religious symbols", meaning some specific guidelines may only be established through court decisions.

The government said the measure - combined with the removal of a cross installed in the main chamber of the national assembly in 1936 - underscored Quebec's break with religion a half century ago, when it rejected the Catholic Church's powerful influence in local politics.

The groups are asking that the bill be withdrawn, but they acknowledge the battle will be hard because the government has invoked the notwithstanding clause to block possible court challenges.

Members of the public would also be required to have uncovered faces when interacting with government workers "where doing so is necessary to allow their identity to be verified or for security reasons", unless they have health, occupational or disability-related reasons for covering their face. "The NCCM's legal team is undertaking a careful review of the bill to determine what options exist to challenge this discriminatory legislation", said Gardee. "You can't be promoted or change school boards and wear a religious symbol". Teachers' unions have also been vocal opponents of the proposed ban.

"I think one of the things that a lot of Quebecers are going to be asking in the coming hours and days is about how this proposed law is actually going to work", he said.

"Are we prepared as a society to tell an aspiring police officer that she will never enjoy the privilege of protecting her community?"

Significant public backlash could theoretically lead to Legault rethinking some or all aspects of the bill.

However, polling data suggests that major opposition to the entire bill is likely. However there wouldn't be a "strip search to check if the person is wearing a religious sign", he said.

Thursday's bill invoked the rarely-used "notwithstanding clause" in an attempt to override future legal challenges to the legislation.



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