Matters involving cultural and religious freedoms are rarely simple. This is especially true in the province of Québec.
The province is so culturally different from the rest of Canada that it’s citizens nearly voted to separate from the country in 1995. The referendum that asked whether Québec should become its own sovereign country brought out the highest ever voter turnout in Québec and was ultimately shot down, but only by a margin of 0.58%
Now there is another piece of legislation on the table. It is called Bill 21 and if passed it would prohibit certain public workers in Quebec from wearing religious symbols and garments.
In support of such restrictions are the Coalition Avenir Québec and the Parti Québécois. In opposition are the Liberals and Québec solidaire. Yes, there are four political parties in Québec.
While being dubbed the “secularism” bill in the media, the language used in the actual bill is laicity, a translation of the French word, laïcité.
This is how laicity is defined by our good friends Merriam and Webster:
control or influence by the laity
Okay, what are the laity?
the people of a religious faith as distinguished from its clergy
In Bill 21’s own language, laicity is based on these principles:
- the separation of state and religions
- the religious neutrality of the state
- the equality of all citizens
- freedom of conscience and freedom of religion
In addition to banning certain types of symbols and clothing for public servants, it would require members of the public to uncover their face to identify themselves. For example, a woman wearing a niqab, would have to unveil her face in order to confirm her identity when presenting government identification.
This is, as you might expect, a controversial bill of law. It has generated multiple protests and much debate. On one side of the argument, it promotes separation of church and state. On the other hand, it is perceived as promoting intolerance against certain groups.
To deal with the overwhelming division on Bill 21, six days have been set aside for legislative hearings, beginning today.
Meanwhile, while everyone argues whether or not a person in the public sector should be able to wear a cross on their lapel, A GIANT CRUCIFIX HANGS ABOVE THE SPEAKER’S CHAIR IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY!
The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) has promised to move it (to an undisclosed location) if Bill 21 becomes law.
The full bill is here, if you are so inclined to read it.
In my opinion, who cares what the goofballs yelling over top of each other in the legislative assembly think? I wanna know what the fine folks who read Not Sheep Minded think.
So, what do you think?
- Should a teacher be able to wear a hijab?
- Should a subsidized daycare provider be able to wear a crucifix pin?
- Should a cop be able to wear a turban?
- Should a woman have to remove her niqab in order to present her public transit pass?
- Should a giant crucifix be allowed to hang in a government building?
Wikipedia: 1995 Quebec Referendum