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CanadaTo minorities worried about religious symbols law, Quebec premier says he 'could have gone further'

11:51  19 june  2019
11:51  19 june  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

Legault government trying to adopt secularism bill ahead of summer break

Legault government trying to adopt secularism bill ahead of summer break MONTREAL — The Coalition Avenir Quebec government is running out of time and into a battle over what constitutes a religious symbol as it pushes to adopt the secularism bill promised in last fall's election campaign. Premier Francois Legault and his cabinet have stated they want the bill banning many public sector workers from wearing religious symbols passed before the legislature's scheduled summer break this Friday. But the premier Wednesday

Quebec Premier François Legault had a blunt message Tuesday for minorities worried about his government's new religious symbols law : the legislation, he said , " could have gone further ." The law , which was passed late Sunday, bars civil servants in positions of authority

Quebec Premier François Legault says he doesn't "really" believe Muslim women in the province who say they've been the target of Islamophobic incidents since the government passed a To minorities worried about religious symbols law , Quebec premier says he ' could have gone further '.

To minorities worried about religious symbols law, Quebec premier says he 'could have gone further'© Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada 'The majority was asking for secularism, and they were ignored. Now they feel listened to,' Premier François Legault said in an interview Tuesday.

Quebec Premier François Legault had a blunt message Tuesday for minorities worried about his government's new religious symbols law: the legislation, he said, "could have gone further."

The law, which was passed late Sunday, bars civil servants in positions of authority — including public school teachers, government lawyers and police officers — from wearing religious symbols while at work.

It's been roundly denounced by minority groups in the province that warn it will institutionalize discrimination by limiting employment opportunities for people who wear such commonplace religious garments as the hijab, turban or kippa.

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François Legault, the right-leaning Quebec premier , says the law — which applies to Muslim head scarves, Sikh turbans, Jewish skullcaps, Catholic Critics say it flouts freedom of religion , breaches constitutional protections and excludes minorities who choose to wear symbols of faith from vital

The new law bans public employees in the province of Quebec from wearing religious symbols in the workplace.Credit They also argue that it threatens to foment Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fear of other minorities . Public employees who flout the law could also face disciplinary measures.

To minorities worried about religious symbols law, Quebec premier says he 'could have gone further'© Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada Legault says he has received positive feedback about the religious symbols law in his suburban riding east of Montreal.

In an interview with Radio-Canada Tuesday, Legault was asked if he had anything to say to those Quebecers who will be affected by the law.

"We took a measure that was moderate. We could have gone further," he replied.

Legault pointed out that his law, which is limited to civil servants in positions of authority, didn't go as far as the so-called charter of values — a failed proposal by Pauline Marois's Parti Québécois government that would have prevented the wearing of "ostentatious" religious symbols by anyone in the health-care sector, as well as university employees.

To minorities worried about religious symbols law, Quebec premier says he 'could have gone further'© Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada Legault was interviewed by Patrice Roy, left, the host of Radio-Canada's supper-hour newscast in Quebec.

"We could have asked if a doctor is in a position of authority in relation to his patient," Legault said when asked again to address the concerns of minorities and other critics of the law.

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To minorities worried about religious symbols law , Quebec premier says he ' could have gone further '. Quebec 's religious symbols law has An organization representing all nine of Quebec 's English school boards says the province's proposed ban on religious symbols can 't be imposed on

The government says the suspension of the program is temporary, until November, while the Immigration Ministry tries to clear the backlog of files from applicants who already have To minorities worried about religious symbols law , Quebec premier says he ' could have gone further '.

Earlier in the interview, which took place in the premier's riding of L'Assomption, a suburb of Montreal, Legault acknowledged that his government had to pay attention to the opposition sparked by the new measures.

"But you can't forget the majority either," he said. "The majority was asking for secularism, and they were ignored. Now they feel listened to."

He also justified his controversial legislation by pointing to far-right populist parties in Europe, which have used anti-immigrant rhetoric to make gains in several recent elections.

"To avoid extremism, you have to give a little to the majority," Legault said.

The premier said that Quebec's law on religious symbols is moderate compared to similar legislation in countries like France — where the niqab is banned in public, and students at state-run schools can't wear religious symbols of any kind.

In comparison, Legault said, the Quebec law contains a grandfather clause, meaning it will only be applied to new teachers, and it covers just a small portion of the civil service.

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To minorities worried about religious symbols law , Quebec premier says he ' could have gone further '. Quebec 's religious symbols law has been Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., Trudeau said he and his government will defend minority rights everywhere in Canada.

The Quebec Liberal Party said the law would go too far , particularly in respect to Muslim women, and continued to advocate a ban only on religious clothing which covered the face The groups argue that the law is unconstitutional, irreparably harms religious minorities and constitutes "state-sanctioned

"There are people who are a little racist and don't want to see religious symbols anywhere in public," Legault said, before promising his government would not propose any further restrictions.

Less than 12 hours after the law was passed, a Muslim advocacy group, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, along with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, filed a legal challenge in Quebec Superior Court.

A judge is expected to hear arguments Thursday on whether the law should be subject to an injunction pending a more detailed review of its constitutionality.

Immigrants 'have to play the game, too': Legault

The interview with Radio-Canada comes now that Legault's first legislative session as premier has wrapped up for the summer. His party, the centre-right Coalition Avenir Québec, won a convincing majority in last October's election.

It is the first time since 1970 the province has been governed by a party other than the Liberals or the Parti Québécois.

Legault used his majority to suspend normal legislative procedures last week, forcing members of the National Assembly to sit throughout the weekend to pass the two bills he considered priorities.

Calgarians concerned Quebec's Bill 21 could lead to wider-reaching racism, bigotry

Calgarians concerned Quebec's Bill 21 could lead to wider-reaching racism, bigotry Saymah Chaudhry is one of thousands of Calgarians that wears a hijab, the head covering worn by some Muslim women. She's one of many here feeling uneasy about Bill 21, which just passed in Quebec, and how it might impact religious minorities across Canada. © Dan McGarvey/CBC Harcharan Parhar says Sikhs in Calgary are worried Bill 21 could lead to an increase in racism and also taints Canada’s image on the international stage. "Being a woman who chooses to wear this I do feel targeted and it's hurtful," said Chaudhry.

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Quebec 's controversial religious symbols law continues to draw criticism in Gatineau, with one activist calling the bill's passing over the weekend "a dark day for Quebec ." Bill 21 passed late Sunday with the Coalition Avenir Québec introducing several amendments, including provisions to ensure the law is

Along with the religious symbols bill, the CAQ also rammed through an overhaul of Quebec's immigration system.

Under the immigration reforms, the government will be able to fast-track applications from workers with skills needed to fill labour shortages outside Montreal.

The immigration reform also allows the Quebec government to negotiate with Ottawa to potentially make permanent residency in the province dependent on passing a French-language test, as well as a so-called test of Quebec values.

The prospect of a values test came under heavy scrutiny by the opposition Liberals during legislative hearings into the immigration bill.

Legault described the tests as an opportunity for immigrants to demonstrate they are using the public resources provided to them to further their integration.

"The people who've been here for three years, who've found a job, who were kindly welcomed, who received free French lessons — they have to play the game, too."

Though his government was reluctant to provide details about the values test during the legislative hearings, Legault said Tuesday it would be similar to the federal citizenship test that permanent residents must pass before they become Canadians.

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Manitoba premier to raise Quebec religious symbol law with western premiers.
EDMONTON — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he will be seeking a joint response to Quebec's new religious symbols law when western premiers meet on Thursday in Edmonton. 

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