NewsAlert: Quebec tables religious symbols bill

National Assembly votes to remove crucifix

"The proposed legislation is a solution to a problem that does not exist- there is no evidence to suggest that individuals wearing items of religious clothing are negatively impacting anyone in society". But new public workers in "authority" positions could not wear religious symbols - they risk dismissal if they do not follow the ban.

The Quebec government's secularism legislation threatens to stall promising careers, embolden intolerant segments of society and turn religious minorities into second-class citizens, two teachers who stand to be affected by the bill said Thursday.

The bill asserts that secularity "should be affirmed in a manner that ensures a balance between the collective rights of the Quebec nation and human rights and freedoms".

The important thing, she said, was that the process of making laws was secular, not that people divested themselves of religious attire and symbols.

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The government has said it is working toward a motion to remove the crucifix that hangs above the speaker's chair in the National Assembly.

WSO President Mukhbir Singh said: "We are deeply disappointed that the CAQ has introduced legislation banning the wearing of religious clothing and symbols in Quebec".

Speaking to reporters in St. Stephen, N.B., Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the bill opens the door to discrimination. Current teachers, according to the bill, can keep their symbols "as long as they exercise the same function within the same school board". "Quebec is a democratic, progressive and inclusive society; yet this bill is regressive and is squarely against these core values", said NCCM Quebec spokesperson Sarah Abou-Bakr.

However, because of the use of the notwithstanding clause, he sees no obvious avenues to challenge the law in the courts.

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The previous Liberal government adopted demands for receiving public services but they were suspended after some groups argued that the restrictions violate the country's laws, providing for freedom of conscience and religion.

The bill, titled "An act respecting the laicity of the state", has been proposed by the right-leaning Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government, elected past year with pledges to restrict immigration and cement secularity.

The wearing of the turban and the Sikh articles of faith is not optional for Sikhs and a ban on these articles of faith was, in effect, a ban on Sikhs in positions of authority. Daniel Beland, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, told CTV News Channel that there appears to be a "large majority" supporting a ban on judges and police officers wearing religious symbols, while support is lower for other sectors under the proposed ban.

Plante said she is "very concerned" about the law. "And now I think of young people across Quebec who won't be able to do their dream jobs".

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