Ontario politician launches letter drive to draw Quebec doctors unhappy with charter
Published Sunday, September 15, 2013 12:55PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, September 15, 2013 3:08PM EDT
A municipal councillor from Richmond Hill, Ont., is trying to turn Quebec's contentious charter of values into a recruitment drive, saying any doctors unhappy with the province's proposed ban on religious clothing and symbols are more than welcome in his hometown.
Carmine Perrelli says he has mailed out approximately 200 letters to doctors employed in various Quebec hospitals, asking them if they would consider relocating due to the Parti Quebecois’s so-called "values charter."
If the proposed charter is adopted, public-sector workers -- including doctors, teachers and police officers -- would be banned from wearing religious clothing and symbols such as hijabs, turbans, kippas and large crucifixes while at work.
"If there is going to be anything out there that is going to make people choose between where they live and how they practice their faith, and they decide that they want to move somewhere else, Richmond Hill is welcome to have them,"the politician told CTV’s News Channel on Sunday.
Perrelli says he is also launching a website, called Richmond Hill Wants You, to help Quebecers relocate to his town, located just north of Toronto.
"I welcome anyone, from any community, where they have to leave for whatever reason…and we’ll do anything we can to facilitate their move to Richmond Hill or the GTA area," he said.
The website is set to go live Sunday afternoon.
Perrelli -- who has lived in Richmond Hill for more than 30 years -- described his community as an "inclusive" one.
"To improve our economic situation in Richmond Hill, I welcome these people," he said.
Perrelli said he hasn’t received any responses to his letters yet, but plans on mailing out more next week to engineers, teachers and other public-sector workers.
"We’re more concerned with what’s in their hearts than anywhere else."
When asked on his thoughts on Quebec’s proposed charter, Perelli was very critical of it, saying: "I know racism when I see it."
Perrelli’s campaign comes on the heels of a similar effort last week, when Lakeridge Health in Oshawa, Ont. put out ads on social media and in Montreal’s McGill student newspaper seeking doctors and nurses unhappy with the proposed charter.
The ad shows a woman wearing a pink hijab and a stethoscope around her neck, with the slogan: "We don’t care what’s on your head, we care what’s in it."