08/14/2012 11:04 EDT | Updated 10/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Ban Overt Religious Signs In Public Service, PQ Says


The Parti Québecois wants to introduce a secular charter and ban all civil servants from wearing or exposing overt religious symbols.

This isn't the first time the Parti Québecois has mentioned the introduction of a secular charter aimed at making sure public and parapublic institutions are free of religious bias and symbols.

At a news conference on Monday in Maskinongé, northeast of Montreal, leader Pauline Marois said freedom of religion would be integrated in the charter.

"Before having it contested, we will present it, debate it and adopt it. If it has to be contested, for now its a hypothetical question. We will fight for what we need because we think this is essential for the public's well-being by taking its values and writing them in a charter," said Marois.

Under this charter, civil servants would not be allowed to wear conspicuous religious symbols.

The crucifix at the National Assembly, however, would remain untouched.

Marois also talked about the fact that many of Quebec's institutions used to be based on religion.

"It's part of our heritage, but taking a step to ensure the state's secularity is not to deny what we are, but that we are at a new moment in our lives and believe the state's neutrality and the fundamental values, equality between men and women must guide us toward a life together in Quebec," said Marois.

Some people have argued that the secular charter proposed by the PQ could hit a roadblock because it may go against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which entitles people to freedom of religion and promotes multiculturalism in the country.

Marois said her charter would not infringe on peoples' fundamental rights and would be put in place during her government's first mandate.

CAQ wants tax credit for new homeowners

A Coalition Avenir Québec government would make it easier for young families to buy homes, leader François Legault said today as the party continues to try and attract the votes of Quebec parents.

The latest family-friendly announcement for the party targets the fees people pay when they purchase their home.

"In total, the fees linked to buying a house are between three and four per cent of the overall cost of the home," said Legault during a campaign stop in Lévis.

"We hope to introduce a measure that will allow young families… that already have at least one child to have a $1,000 tax credit to reimburse many of these fees."

This plan would cost $23 million.

The party has already said it would give a $1,000 tax credit to families making less than $100,000 a year, offer five paid leave days to parents taking care of sick family members and extend high school hours to 5 p.m. in order to offer more learning assistance to students.

"This morning, we are giving a boost to young families who want to buy a house," said Legault.

The CAQ said it will unveil its financial plan later this week.

Legault was asked about comments he made yesterday about students "living the good life."

He mentioned that Quebec youth have a dropout rate of 20 per cent and compared it to other cases.

"When I see that in Finland, dropout rates are at one per cent. When I see that in Jewish schools in Quebec, the dropout rate is inferior to one per cent, when I see Asians -- if you have kids, they'll tell you, they're always first of class -- one of my sons told me 'they have no life' -- it may be the extreme on one side, but we're almost at the other extreme."

Charest to build on Quebec City

Liberal leader Jean Charest steered clear from the education topic and announced plans to move ahead with some big building projects in Quebec City.

On Tuesday, Charest said his government is committed to supporting the construction of a new multifunctional theatre, restoring the Nouvelles Casernes – one of the city's oldest historic sites – and developing the Samuel-De Champlain pathway that borders on the Saint-Lawrence River.

The cost for the development of the waterfront path is estimated at $200 million.

If the Liberals remain in government, Quebec City could benefit from $95 million to develop family-friendly infrastructure. From this fund, $45 million would be used to create a covered ice-skating rink.

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