NEWS

Philippe Couillard stands firm against secular charter

08/29/2013 02:40 EDT | Updated 10/29/2013 05:12 EDT
After Quebec finance critic Pierre Paradis said the Liberals might soften on a proposed secular charter, his party's leader has stepped forward, emphasizing the Liberals' stance against the charter.

The charter proposed by the Parti Québécois would see religious symbols such as kippas, crucifixes and hijabs banned for workers in the public sector.

While addressing the media after a Liberal caucus meeting in Rivière-du-Loup, Que. Paradis was pressed to comment on the charter.

“We are constantly evolving our position because society changes,” he said.

“If there's something positive in it, we'll buy it. But if it's negative and it goes against basic rights that the Quebec Liberal Party has already legislated, we won't buy it.”

Today, Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard back-tracked on his colleague's comments.

“Our position, by definition, is constantly evolving, but it never evolves when it comes to our core values," he said.

The charter has not yet been tabled, and Couillard said it's difficult to comment until he gets a closer look.

But he made it clear that the Liberals would not go as far as the PQ's proposed ban.

The line in the sand

Couillard said there’s a difference between a simple headscarf and one that covers a person's face completely.

"I have a daughter, who is now an adult, but if in school she had a teacher with a chador — a veil that covers only her hair — I wouldn’t have had an issue," he said.

"But if her female teacher’s face was covered that would have bothered me, because of the message it would have sent about the relationship between men and women when equality is an important part of our fundamental values."

Essentially, Couillard said the Liberals' views are still in line with bill 94, which was tabled in 2010 under Jean Charest's government.

Officially titled, "An Act to establish guidelines governing accommodation requests within the administration and certain institutions," the bill would have required people who wear face coverings in Quebec to remove them if they work in the public sector or do business with government officials.

The bill was not passed before the Liberals were defeated at the polls by the PQ.

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