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Naheed Nenshi On Quebec's Values Charter: Move To Calgary

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Calgary's popular Mayor Naheed Nenshi has a message for Quebecers facing a controversial religious ban.

Move to Calgary.

The mayor took a moment after a Pride Parade in Calgary on Sunday to address Quebec's proposed legislation that would reportedly ban public servants from wearing religious symbols.

Nenshi referenced “a certain part of our country” and a debate about “how people should be restricted from certain jobs because of their religious faith," CTV news reports.

Calling the proposed Charter of Quebec Values "short-sighted" he said it was “an absolute violation not just of Canadian morals and ethics, but of what has made our country successful. If we are not able to attract the very best people from around the world to want to work and learn and invest and raise families in this country, we don’t have a future as a country ," according to the Globe and Mail.

“It is important for people across Canada, and particularly in Quebec, to know that if they don’t feel welcome in that community, they’re certainly welcome in this one," he added.

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have also criticized Quebec's proposal that would reportedly restrict the right of public employees to wear religious items like turbans, yarmulkes, hijabs and visible crosses.

"Our job is social inclusion,'" said Harper. "Our job is making all groups who come to this country, whatever their background, whatever their race, whatever their ethnicity, whatever their religion, feel at home in this country and be Canadians."

It's important for Canadians and human beings to stand up against injustice, said Nenshi, emphasizing the value of portraying Canada as a welcoming place has on its economic development and success, to CBC's Calgary Eyeopener.

"Really come here, we could use Sikh doctors and hijab wearing school teachers," he said.

The proposed charter is projected as one that would protect the state's religious neutrality.

"We can't fall for that line," said Nenshi to CBC, because if it were true any individual could work for the state.

"It's advantaging people who have less visible faith versus people who have a visible faith," he added.

"Freedom of religion is a universal principle. A child is no less Canadian because she or he wears a kippa, turban, cross, or hijab to school," said minister Jason Kenney on Twitter.

Harper promised to protect minority rights, but said he's wary of getting sucked into a fight on the battlefield chosen by Parti Quebecois.

"We know that the separatist government in Quebec would love to pick fights with Ottawa,'' he said.

The PQ is expected to put out a discussion paper next week on its Quebec Values Charter, and legislation will be introduced in the National Assembly following input from other political parties and the public.

Quebec's opposition Liberals are resisting the idea, which they deride as a PQ attempt to distract from economic issues.

A poll released last week suggests the plan has majority support in Quebec.

With files from The Canadian Press

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