Incoming Que. premier ready to force ban on hijabs for teachers, police
Published Wednesday, October 3, 2018 9:05AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 3, 2018 1:22PM EDT
Quebec’s incoming premier says he is willing to use the notwithstanding clause to ban the display of religious symbols by public workers on the job.
Premier-designate Francois Legault made that claim Tuesday, during his first press conference the day after his Coalition Avenir Quebec won a majority government in the province.
“I think that the vast majority of Quebecers … would like to have a framework where we say people in an authority position, they must not wear religious signs,” Legault said.
“If we have to use the notwithstanding clause to apply what the majority of Quebecers want, we’ll do so.”
The CAQ has pledged to pass legislation mandating a ban on the wearing of religious symbols, including the hijab, for teachers, police officers and judges. All major Quebec parties except the incumbent Liberals made similar promises during the campaign.
Religious neutrality has been a controversial issue in Quebec. The Parti Quebecois introduced a charter of values in 2013, which would have banned all displays of religious symbols within public institutions. The party was removed from government before the charter could be passed into law.
Shaheen Ashraf of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women said she was concerned by Legault’s plan, calling it a human rights issue.
“If a person like me wants to be a policewoman, or wants to be a teacher or wants to be in the public service or in politics, I can’t?” she said.
Legault defended his position during the campaign by saying Quebecers “have the right to defend our values.”
The premier-designate also plans to reduce Quebec’s immigrant intake by 20 per cent, and kick out newcomers who cannot pass tests on Quebec values and the French language after spending three years in the province.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Maya Johnson and files from The Canadian Press