NEWS

Secularism charter slammed by Quebec politicians

08/26/2013 12:47 EDT | Updated 10/26/2013 05:12 EDT
A proposed charter that Premier Pauline Marois says will help unite Quebecers will accomplish the exact opposite, according to her political rivals.

The Parti Québécois' proposed Charter of Quebec Values, would see religious symbols such as turbans, kippas, hijabs and visible crucifixes banned for public employees. Doctors, teachers and public daycare workers would be covered by the legislation.

Over the weekend, Marois said the charter would be a "strong uniting element between Quebecers."

But the leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec party, François Legualt, disagrees.

"We hope that the Parti Québécois turns the page as soon as possible because we know that this debate will divide Quebec," he said.

However, Legault did acknowledge the principle behind the PQ's charter. He said too much religious accommodation has been made over the years and criticized the provincial Liberal Party for not defending Quebec's traditional values.

"What is important … is that people in a position of authority, they should not have any religious signs," Legault said, adding the rule should not extend to doctors, nurses and all civil servants.

'These things can't be legislated'

The PQ's proposal also received a critical response in Montreal.

Louise Harel, municipal party leader for Vision Montréal, said it's not the government's role to regulate values.

“We can legislate rights, we can legislate duties,” Harel said on Radio-Canada’s morning show.

“Kindness, hospitality, brotherhood — these things can’t be legislated.”

Harel recalled how her partner was recently treated by a female doctor wearing a hijab.

“Will we ask her to quit now, even though we’re in need of doctors?” Harel wondered.

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