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How Quebec's proposed ban on religious symbols will work

How Quebec's proposed ban on religious symbols will work

If Bill 21 is passed, it will forbid public sector employees "in position of authority" from wearing religious symbols at work - the small consolation being a provision which would allow for employees already working in those public sector positions to continue wearing their religious symbols.

CANADA'S Quebec province yesterday unveiled controversial draft legislation to ban a significant section of public servants from wearing religious symbols, such as the crucifix, yarmulke or hijab.

The measure - which applies to police, teachers and others in positions of authority - is expected to become law by June with Premier Francois Legault's government holding a majority of seats in the Quebec legislature.

Effective July 2018, access to full reports will only be available with a subscription. It declares that it will have affect "notwithstanding" protections in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and "despite" protections in the provincial Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

The crucifix has hung above the Speaker's chair in the national assembly since 1936, and the Legault government said last October it would not remove it because it is an important part of the province's heritage.

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This is the fourth attempt by successive Quebec governments to try to get the bill into law. President of World Sikh Organization of Canada, Mukhbir Singh told TOI on Friday "we are deeply disappointed that the Coalition Avenir Qu├ębec government has introduced legislation banning the wearing of religious clothing and symbols in Quebec".

The Liberals, who are in opposition in Quebec now, insisted that the proposal was too extreme, while the country's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also among those who criticised the plan. "This just sends the message to people who wears religious symbols that we are secondary citizens", she said in a phone interview. Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said symbols of all religions are included, no matter how small or whether they're visible.

The bill was strongly denounced by other politicians including NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, a practising Sikh who wears a turban, and Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante. "And now I think of young people across Quebec who won't be able to do their dream jobs".

The Quebec government's secularism legislation threatens to stall promising careers, embolden intolerant segments of society and turn religious minorities into second-class citizens, two teachers who stand to be affected by the bill said Thursday.

Jolin-Barrette said his government is building on the legacy of Quebec's Quiet Revolution, when the first steps were taken to separate church and state. However there wouldn't be a "strip search to check if the person is wearing a religious sign", he said.


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