Quebec’s Secularism Legislation

Quebec’s ‘Secularism Legislation’ –  An Erosion Of Rights, Or A Defense Of Secularism?

Presenter: John Pope

July, 2019

Quebec’s PAQ government has passed secularism legislation (Bill 21) that bans the wearing of religious symbols by certain public servants in positions of authority. – https://montrealgazette.com/news/quebec/quebec-passes-secularism-law-after-marathon-session

Our discussion will be about the new Quebec law, and its implications for Canadians.  Please read the above article (at least) to help move the discussion along, thank you.

A handful of premiers criticized the law, but the majority of the premiers were silent on the issue. – https://montrealgazette.com/news/politics/premiers-mostly-silent-over-quebec-religious-symbol-ban-its-not-something-for-us-to-contest

In defense of the Bill, Quebec Premier Legault says “It’s an approach that respects our history, our values, and it’s an approach that respects what the vast majority of Quebecers want” – https://nationalpost.com/news/quebec-premier-francois-legault-to-address-secularism-bill-in-video-message

The law also includes measures saying services must be delivered and received with the face visible.

Related Articles

Some Quebec government employees’ reactions: https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/quebec-federation-of-school-boards-will-apply-secularism-law-this-fall

An opinion about the ban’s consequences: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-quebecs-ban-on-religious-symbols-will-only-embolden-the-far-right/

The French example of similar measures taken: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_law_on_secularity_and_conspicuous_religious_symbols_in_schools, and about headscarf legislation: https://carleton.ca/ces/eulearning/politics/human-rights/case-study-headscarves-and-french-schools/

Questions

What does it mean to be a ‘secular nation’?

How influential are symbols, religious or otherwise?  Why would some people want some symbols banned?  Are religious symbols different from other symbols?

There are serious restrictions on certain kinds of ‘freedom’ of expression.  Is this legislation different?

Are students influenced by symbols worn by teachers?

What effect does a religious symbol worn by a government employee have on a citizen applying for public services?

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