Quebec authority figures will likely not be allowed to wear religious symbols, here’s why
Public school teachers, principals, judges, and police officers will likely be banned from wearing religious symbols while at work, according to sources which have spoken to Radio-Canada, the French division of the CBC.
Editor’s Note: The Radio-Canada article does not clearly define who the sources are.
The Coalition Avenir Québec government led by Premier François Legault is expected to table the bill on this topic Thursday.
Radio-Canada has reported the bill will contain a grandfather clause to allow roughly 500 public sector workers to keep wearing their religious symbols and is furthermore expected to invoke the notwithstanding clause, in order to bypass potential constitutional challenges.
The notwithstanding clause allows Parliament or provincial legislatures to temporarily override certain portions of the Charter, in effect bypassing citizen rights. Once the clause is used, it shall cease to affect five years after it comes into force or on such earlier date as may be specified in the declaration. The clause can be re-enacted every five years.
So why is the Quebec government choosing to do this?
It comes down mainly to Quebec’s fascinating history which makes the policy a trendy one for both Francophone Quebecers on the left and the right.
For Quebecers who fear cultural loss, the removal of different religious items from the public service likely serves as another win for the Quebecers who are mostly Catholic and far less affected.
While those who felt oppressed under the Catholic church find it as a well-needed move to assure freedom from religion.
The topic has so much cross-politics appeal in Quebec that even the previous Liberal government attempted to collect information regarding just how many members of the school system actively wore religious garments.
The Fédération autonome de l’Enseignement (FAE), has argued in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that the Liberals and the current CAQ government violated Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms when they did this.
According to the CBC, a CROP poll taken between Nov. 14 and 19 found that roughly, “72 percent of Quebecers supported banning visible religious symbols for judges, 71 percent supported banning them for prosecutors and police officers and 65 percent backed extending the ban to public-school teachers.”
Alain Giguère, CROP’s president, told the CBC the results indicated unprecedentedly high levels of support for banning religious symbols.
“I think we can conclude that the average Quebecer really wants to remove religion from the public sphere, especially for people who hold positions of authority,” Giguère said.
CROP’s findings are based on an internet panel of 1,000 people.
With so much public support behind banning religious symbols from local Quebecers, it is perhaps no surprise that the Quebec Premier currently maintains one of the highest levels of approval for any Canadian Premier.
This level of support is an extremely important factor here as any bill with a notwithstanding clause requires popular support in order to remain after its five-year enactment.
With so much popular support, the bill could be reenacted regardless of which party wins in the next provincial election.
This cross-politics unity does not mean that every party in Canada supports what Quebec is doing. Federal Liberals have actively called out Quebec for the decision to move forward with a religious garment ban, with Anthony Housefather commenting that he hopes those who support such a ban reconsider.
The multiple topics listed by the Liberal MP show a potential showdown occurring in the future between Quebecers and the Liberal government over extremely sensitive issues.
With the SNC case also occurring at the same time, it will be interesting to see just how seriously the normally pro-diversity Liberal government responds when it so desperately needs many of the same voters to have a real chance at winning in 2019.
What do you think about this bill? Join the conversation by commenting below.
Anti-Semitic depictions have been carved into the snow on several cars in the Plateau area of Montreal, Quebec. This incident took place on rue Jeanne Mance.
Photos of the markings appeared on Twitter, showing four cars that had the Nazi swastika marked onto the windshield and roofs of the cars alongside the Jewish Star of David.
Montreal has a thriving Jewish community with a recent census showing over 90,000 members of the community living in Quebec’s largest city. The Plateau area, in particular, was where the Jewish community first settled in the early 20th century.
Statistics by the Jewish advocacy group, B’nai Brith, have shown that anti-Semitism has been on the rise across Canada. In 2018, there were a reported 2,041 incidents of Anti-Semitism, which is a 16.5 percent increase from the previous year. Of these, 11 were deemed to have been violent.
The leader of the Parti Quebecois, Pascal Berube, has attacked Jason Kenney and his UCP in an opinion piece in the Calgary Herald.
In the article, Berube declared that Kenney was lying to Albertans about Albertan taxes paying for Quebec’s social infrastructure. Berube claimed that Kenney’s statements were “simply not true.”
Berube also took time to rebut Kenney’s indignation over equalization payments—an issue that Kenney will put to a referendum. Berube said that equalization payments were calculated based on the province’s ability to generate tax revenue, and thus “Albertans should not complain about paying for any of Quebec’s social programs. It simply is not true.”
Berube went on to say that “Alberta is a bigger spender than its leaders would like you to believe … Alberta is not some libertarian’s dream, as some would like you to believe. The province is a perfect example of ‘big government.’”
By saying this, Berube has labeled Kenney and the UCP as hypocritical and manipulative.
What was more piercing, however, was when Berube attacked Kenney directly, suggesting that Kenney was “looking for someone or something to blame for his gigantic fiscal deficit.”
Berube went on to say that “Albertans need to realize that their leaders have let them down … he will seal his place as the proud heir of past leaders who drove Alberta to the brink of the fiscal precipice where it now finds itself.”
Berube’s attack is the latest incident in a war of words between the two provinces. Previously, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and CAQ leader Francois Legault had criticized Kenney and the Wexit movement. Blanchet, for example, has also disputed Kenney’s equalization claims, declaring that Alberta doesn’t “send a cheque to Quebec.”
Blanchet has also ridiculed the broad sentiment of alienation in the western province, stating that “the desire to do whatever they want with their oil might not be a sufficient reason to fuel a desire to become a country.”
A public art display in Montreal’s downtown core has drawn the ire of residents who believe the city’s spending is irresponsible.
According to Director Quebec of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Renaud Brossard, that $800,000 figure “is as much as the property taxes of 192 Montreal families.”
The bridge, which is used commonly in the summer months to sit on as it’s placed in a city square, has gotten harsh criticism from those in the Western provinces, as many feel it’s a wasteful way to spend $800,000.
This, though, isn’t confined to Montreal. Edmonton, Alberta recently coughed up a hefty $1 million towards a public art display.
A Calgary-based natural resource transport company is set to ship off propane to parts of Canada in dire need of propane—namely Quebec—to display solidarity and help their “fellow Canadians.”
The pipeline operator is set to send 105 cars-worth of trains with propane sourced from Canada’s western provinces, said Pembina Pipeline in a statement late Sunday night.
“We believe the provinces can work together in the spirit of unity to secure a safe, reliable and long-term supply of energy from each other, rather than from foreign countries who do not share Canadian values,” it said in a news release. “The best question is: why would we not?” said CEO Michael Dilger.
With CN Rail currently tangled in a strike haulting 3,200 different employees from working, Quebec Premier Francois Legault pointed to the CN Railway strikes as the main reason la Belle Province was left propaneless—this led to his formal request to the federal government to take emergency back-to-work legislation, though it appears that may no longer be necessary.
Pembina’s benevolent action comes as the western province’s secession movement continues to grow, with recent polls finding 62 percent of Albertans believing Alberta “does not get its fair share from Confederation” —up from 45 percent in 1997—with 46 percent feeling “more attached to their province than to their country”
Last week Premier Kenney got into a heated verbal spar with Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchette.
Kenney responded to Blanchette’s comments that Quebec would not support Alberta’s venture into a separatist movement, one that Blanchette says he had no interest in comparing to Quebec’s previous movements, and one he has little interest in aiding.
“If they were attempting to create a green state in western Canada, I might be tempted to help them,” he said. “If they are trying to create an oil state in western Canada, they cannot expect any help from us.”
Kenney responded by telling the Bloc leader to “pick a lane”
“If you are so opposed to the energy that we produce in Alberta, then why are you so keen on taking the money generated by the oilfield workers in this province and across Western Canada?” said Kenney, the keynote speaker, to a sold-out crowd in Calgary.
“Pick a lane. Either you can say as Quebec that you’re no longer going to take the energy and equalization resources that come from Western Canada’s oil and gas industry … or you can do what we do as Canadians, coming together to support each other, especially in times of adversity,” said Kenney.
The Bloc Quebecois played an integral role in reducing the Trudeau government from the former majority to a now-minority government, as the BQ claimed more than 30 seats across the province.