Quebec Secularism Bill Summary

March 28, 2019

Community Updates

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Thursday, March 28th, 2019 – The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) has tabled a bill that would prohibit public sector employees and civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work. This includes teachers, judges, police officers, prison guards, and other employees in positions of authority. A provisional grandfather clause has been included in the bill that would allow current employees to continue to wear religious garb, but hires after today’s date would be forbidden from doing so.

A motion has also been called to remove the crucifix from the provincial legislature, though CAQ had stated previously that it would not be removed due to being an important part of Quebec’s heritage.

Premier Francois Legault has stated that this bill is supported by the majority of the Quebec population, and is fulfilling CAQ promises. A similar bill (Bill 62) was tabled in 2017 that forbade people in public spaces from covering their face, though the application of this has been suspended.

Civil rights groups across the country have heavily criticized the bill, and one school board (English Montreal School Board) has vowed to never enforce this bill even before the text was public.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that he will wait study the bill before providing detailed commentary, but also stated that Canada as secular society will respect freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center stands for religious freedom of all forms, confronts hatred and intolerance, and promotes the principles of social justice and Canadian democratic values through advocacy and education. FWSC conducted a study in August 2018 that found that the population of Quebec has roughly double the population of people who hold antisemitic beliefs compared to other Canadian provinces (27.8% believe that Jewish people hold too much influence in global affairs, 23.8% believe that Jewish people have too much influence in the Canadian government).