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Proposed ban on religious garb introduced in Quebec parliament

November 14, 2013

Bernard Drainville, Quebec’s Minister Responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship, has formally introduced controversial legislation that would prevent “personnel members of public bodies” from wearing “objects such as headgear, clothing, jewelry or other adornments which, by their conspicuous nature, overtly indicate a religious affiliation,” according to the text of the proposed legislation.

“Public bodies,” according to the measure, include government agencies, school boards, “health and social services agencies,” and “budget-funded bodies.”

Public hearings will begin in January, CBC News reported.

Informally called the “charter of values,” the legislation is entitled the “Charter affirming the values of secularism and the religious neutrality of the state, as well as the equality of men and women, and the framing of accommodation requests.”

“After a first failure by a personnel member of a public body to comply with the restriction on wearing a religious symbol, dialogue must be engaged in before any disciplinary measure is taken by the public body, in order to remind the person of their obligations and foster their compliance,” the legislation states.

Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal told Vatican Radio that the bill is “problematic.”

“The role of the state is not to control how you dress,” he said. The state, rather, should “protect a space for pluralism, a space for the dignity of every human being, a space for liberty and a space for liberty of expression and religion, where religion is not imposed but also does not block it.”


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  • Posted by: mario.f.leblanc5598 - Nov. 14, 2013 6:55 PM ET USA

    The only dictatorship Quebec has to live with is that of relativism. Whether this is worse or better than communism, fascism, etc., is a matter of debate. And nobody here is proposing to keep priests from wearing cassocks in public, only civil servants on the job are concerned. I do not approve of the proposed measure, but many of those reading this probably live in areas where similar restrictions are actually in force.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Nov. 14, 2013 5:52 PM ET USA

    This is problematic, but people this side of the border should be aware that it is mainly aimed at Muslims, not Christians. The idea is to ban burkas and other items that impede identification of individuals. Whether this legislation is worthwhile or no is certainly debatable, but the use of clothing to hide weapons in other parts of the world makes the question pertinent.

  • Posted by: normnuke - Nov. 14, 2013 12:38 PM ET USA

    Communist dictatorships always ban priests from wearing cassocks in public. This is Mexico, 1920