Montreal skyline 370.
(photo credit: wikimediacommons)
A controversial bill curtailing religious freedoms that has Canadian Jews up in
arms is only meant to drum up support for Quebec independence, the Canadian
Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs told The Jerusalem Post on
The government backers of a bill that would ban the wearing of
“conspicuous religious symbols” by public sector workers in Quebec “do not wish
to have the legislation adopted in this legislative session,” David Ouellette,
the Jewish umbrella group’s director for Public Affairs in Quebec wrote in an
email exchange with the Post.
Ouellette stated that he believes that the
“minority government’s calculus is to use the proposed legislation in the next
elections as a wedge issue, hoping it can rekindle nationalist sentiment and
move into majority territory.”
The ban, which is part of a proposed
Charter of Quebec Values being pushed by the separatist Parti Québécois, would
essentially redefine the meaning of state secularism and has alienated local
religious minorities, including Muslims Sikhs and Jews. The party has called for
a revision of the province’s charter of rights and freedoms.
Marois, the Quebec premier, has denied such allegations.
legislation, she was quoted as saying by CTC News, was proposed to enhance
“harmony” in the Francophone province.
While the Quebec Liberal party
continues to oppose the measure, some members of the opposition faction have
begun indicating that they believe that some restrictions on the wearing of
religious symbols “make sense,” according to CTC News.
Liberals have indicated that their position is evolving and that they could
favour a ban on religious symbols limited to people in positions of coercive
authority such as police officers and judges,” Ouellette
Despite this development, however, Ouellette maintained that
“the legislation [is not] any closer to being adopted. There would still be a
gulf between the government’s position and the opposition parties.”
bill, recently renamed the “charter affirming the values of state secularism and
religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a
framework for accommodation requests,” provides for a five-year moratorium on
implementation in some educational and medical institutions, should they
However, CBC News reported, Quebec’s Jewish General Hospital has
indicated that it plans on ignoring the “prejudicial bill.”
this offensive legislation would make it extremely difficult for the JGH to
function as an exemplary member of Quebec’s public health care system,” JGH
Director Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg was quoted as saying.
“The JGH receives
no complaints about the religious or cultural apparel of its staff,” Rosenberg
said in a statement.