Quebec: Charter Would Forbid Wearing Religious Garb, Daycares Serving Kosher


yarmulkeThe long-awaited Charter of Quebec Values has arrived, and rather than softening its most controversial proposals, the Parti Québécois government is taking a tougher stand in the name of a secular society.

Presenting Bill 60 before the National Assembly on Thursday, Premier Pauline Marois said her government has listened to Quebecers. But while Marois spoke of “harmony,” Liberal leader Philippe Couillard, head of the official opposition, called the PQ charter “impractical, illegal and unconstitutional,” predicting lengthy court battles if it is ever adopted.

Opening her exchange with the Liberals in the assembly, Marois wondered whether “we live on the same planet.”

“Our proposed charter allows us to affirm common rules that we want to give ourselves to live in diversity,” she said. “We affirm our will to build a Quebec where we can live well together.

“I am convinced that before long people will cite this charter as an example of what will contribute to bringing us together, Quebec women and men of all origins, as we already did with the Charter of the French language,” Marois told reporters.

Now designated Bill 60, the charter is formally the “Charter affirming the values of state secularism and religious neutrality and equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests.”

Asked whether the PQ’s charter also has a sovereignist agenda, Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville, sponsor of Bill 60, said: “No matter what choices Quebecers make for their future, on this question as on others, the fact that we have solid foundations will allow us to advance with much more confidence and pride for the future.”

Couillard said Bill 60 “rests on nothing concrete,” noting the government has no studies to justify it and Quebec’s human rights commission calls the charter “an attack without precedent against the rights and freedoms of Quebec women and men.”

Asked how many among Quebec’s 600,000 public-sector employees wear religious symbols that his charter would ban, Drainville admitted he did not know, adding that finding out the number would mean “profiling.”

“And that, I think, is unacceptable,” Drainville said.

When asked for examples of why the charter is needed, Drainville recalled cases dating back to 2006 that were given sensational treatment in some media, including the frosting of windows at a YMCA in a Hasidic neighbourhood and a woman who wore a niqab at CÉGEP St-Laurent.

“There are lots of cases,” the minister said.

All three opposition parties in the assembly say a general ban on religious signs goes too far and they would vote against Bill 60.

Couillard has said it will pass “over my dead body,” and Drainville admits he must persuade the Coalition Avenir Québec to adopt the PQ position for it to become law.

Drainville expressed confidence the “weight of arguments” in favour of the charter, at public hearings in the new year, would convince the CAQ to support Bill 60.

CAQ leader François Legault has said the ban on religious signs targets Muslim women, and he has appealed to Marois to revise her position.

Couillard said he doesn’t buy PQ arguments that a ban on public-sector employees wearing conspicuous religious signs would contribute to harmony and boost Quebecers’ confidence.

“What this bill is telling the world, and that’s highly unfortunate, it’s telling the world: Look how we are weak,” the Liberal leader said.

“We feel like we cannot defend ourselves. We are under siege, we are under threat,” Couillard said.

Read more at The Montreal Gazette.

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  1. I live in Quebec and am disgusted and very unsettled by this Bill. It goes against all human rights concepts and sickeningly echoes the anti-Semitic propaganda that we heard and felt across Europe in the 1930s.

  2. What they want is precisely what the Nazis sought. Special efforts to ban religious expression so that there can be a “higher civilized society”. And we know how that works now don’t we. Never Again.

  3. Can someone please simplify the verbiage herein? Does this mean no person may wear a yarmulka or Yiddishe style hat? Lehavdil no goy may wear their thing either? Please explain!
    Is this deja~vu, all over again, as Yogi Berra would say it?

  4. There was a study done recently about heart disease and the conclusion was that the French have a low rate because of wine consumption. Wrong. Its because they don’t have any hearts

  5. ^ What it means is that no-one working in the provincial public service would be allowed to wear identifiable religious garb while at work. The provincial public service includes employees of the provincial government — office workers in government offices, police officers in the provincial police force, employees of public universities and colleges, school-teachers, child-care workers at publicly-funded day-cares, etc.

    No restrictions on wearing whatever in the street. Still, it’s crazy, and it comes out of a sense of cultural nationalism as the provincial government attempts to build support for sovereignty (independence for Quebec).

  6. The full text of the bill is available at

    Chapter II, Section 5: “In the exercise of their functions, personnel members of public bodies must not wear objects such as headgear, clothing, jewelry or other adornments which, by their conspicuous nature, overtly indicate a religious affiliation.”

    So if you’re a government employee in any way, no kippa, no tichel or sheitel recognizable as such—not even a Star of David necklace. I imagine that sleeves past the elbow would be allowed (except perhaps on very hot days when the only people wearing such are doing so for religious reasons.)

    CHAPTER VII, “Rules Applicable to the Educational Childcare Services Sector”, Section 27: “In the exercise of their functions, personnel members, including management personnel, of a childcare centre, home childcare coordinating office or subsidized day care centre governed by the Educational Childcare Act (chapter S-4.1.1) are bound by the duties and obligations set out in sections 3 to 6. In cases of failure to comply, the prescriptions of section 14 apply, with the necessary modifications.

    “The obligation to have one’s face uncovered set out in section 6 also applies to persons recognized as subsidized home childcare providers under the Educational Childcare Act and their personnel in the exercise of their functions.”

    Same chapter, Section 30: “In order to facilitate social cohesion and the integration of children without regard to social or ethnic origin or religious affiliation, the policy must provide, among other things, that
    (1) children’s admission must not be related to their learning a specific religious belief, dogma or practice;
    (2) the objective of educational activities and communication cannot be to teach such a belief, dogma or practice; and
    (3) a repeated activity or practice stemming from a religious precept, in particular with regard to dietary matters, must not be authorized if its aim, through words or actions, is to teach children that precept.

    “The provisions relating to the elements provided for in subparagraphs 1 to
    3 of the first paragraph also apply to persons recognized as subsidized home
    childcare providers under the Educational Childcare Act.”

    I’m going to guess that most daycare falls under the rubric of “subsidized home
    childcare providers” under the terms of the relevant act; if so, this act is an even more severe infringement on religious rights than the article implied.

  7. Muslim garb is probably kodesh-kodoshim in Quebec and thus would be exempt for all this, right?

    BTW, this typical secularist socialist policy. This is just what the leftist leadership in America are gravitating us towards……