Québec Solidaire to Fight Quebec Governments Bill 21 on Religion and the State

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1803 ... April 12, 2019
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Québec Solidaire to Fight Quebec Government’s Bill 21 on Religion and the State

Richard Fidler

As it had threatened during last fall’s election campaign, the newly-elected Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government has introduced legislation to prohibit a wide range of persons "in authority," including teachers, from wearing symbols of their religious beliefs while exercising their functions. Those affected include judges, prosecutors, police, and jail guards, but also teachers, childcare providers, public transit operators, health and social service workers, municipal and administrative tribunal and board officials, etc.

Bill 21, "An Act respecting the laicity of the State," also provides that those delivering or receiving government services may lose their jobs or be denied services if they refuse to uncover their face for identity or "security"... reasons. Similar provisions, adopted under the previous Liberal government but suspended pending a legal appeal, will now be implemented pursuant to the CAQ’s decision to shield its legislation from civil liberties challenges using the constitutional "notwithstanding" clause.

Prime targets of the legislation are obviously Muslim women wearing headscarves or other clothing they associate with their religious beliefs. A "grandfather" clause exempting employees in their current jobs would effectively bar them from promotions or other public employment.

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