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The Québec government is proposing a secularism law to prohibit any new public servants in a position of authority — including teachers, lawyers and police officers — from wearing religious symbols while at work.
The bill incorporates the language of the law from last year’s Bill 62, which prohibits people from wearing face coverings when they receive government services — including health care and day care services and using public transit.
Bill - Act - Laicity - State - Laws
Bill 21, An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State, follows laws previously put forth by Québec’s governments — the Liberal Party in 2010 and 2017 and the Parti Québécois in 2013. But parts of these law were suspended after court challenges.
This time, the provincial government invoked the “notwithstanding clause” to ensure it holds up against constitutional scrutiny. The clause allows provincial or federal authorities to override sections of Canada’s Charter of Rights.
Bill - Québec - Charter - Human - Rights
The bill also proposes to permanently amend the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to accommodate state laïcité, the French principle of strict separation between church and state.
In my research at Carleton University, I have been tracking what I call “Christian liberalism.” I look at the role of religion within the liberal democratic state — and how Christian frameworks, norms and values are embedded into the history of law and public policy in the United States and Canada.
Glance - Secularism - Laïcité - Bill - Intolerant
At first glance, the strict secularism (or laïcité) of Bill 21 appears intolerant of religion in all its public forms. But the neutral and secular language of the bill presumes an invisible Christian default when outlining the rules around public expressions of religiosity.
For example, the Charter of Values put forth by the Parti Québécois in 2013 proposed banning “conspicuous” religious symbols from the public service sector. But it drew a line between “subtle” religious expressions (like a crucifix necklace) and “overt”...
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