The Parti Québécois (PQ) government’s proposal to introduce a Charter of Quebec Values is an affront to fairness and freedom. The Charter would forbid public employees from wearing religious symbols at work and is therefore an absurd proposal which threatens to completely alienate religious minorities.
Wearing a cross or a turban does not make you bad at your job. One great critique of the proposed law has come from a Montreal doctor, a Sikh man who wears a turban. He says that if the PQ passes and enforces the Charter, he will be forced to leave Quebec or at least stop practicing medicine along with all the young residents in Montreal hospitals who wear religious attire. Montrealers might end up with longer wait times in hospitals because some people choose to cover their hair.
Quebec’s strong secular tendency has its history in the Quiet Revolution. In response to the oppressive rule of the Catholic Church, Québécois rejected conservative social norms and transferred control of their societal institutions from the Church to the government.
However, these comprehensive and democratic changes stand in contrast to the current proposal. For one thing, religious groups were not even consulted before the PQ had formed specific policy proposals.
Worse still, the proposed Charter of Quebec Values is racist and hypocritical. The PQ tolerates the crucifixes that hang in Quebec’s public spaces, including the National Assembly. The PQ would have us believe that a properly non-religious society is one in which laws can be passed under a cross but a man wearing a kippah cannot be a public employee.
In sum, adopting the Charter of Quebec Values would be short-sighted, anti-democratic, racist and hypocritical.
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