Liberal backbencher in Ontario speaks out against Quebec 'values charter'
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, September 10, 2013 7:20AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 10, 2013 5:39PM EDT
TORONTO -- Political debate is heating up again over Quebec's controversial "values charter" that would restrict religious clothing and symbols.
An Ontario Liberal backbencher is tabling a symbolic motion today that calls on the legislature to oppose any bill to restrict or prohibit freedom of expression and religion in public places.
Monte Kwinter's motion comes as the Parti Quebecois government released details of its proposed charter.
If adopted by the legislature, restrictions on religious clothing and symbols would apply to every public servant including judges, police, public daycare workers, teachers and hospital workers
Kwinter, who is Jewish, says Quebec is the master of its own destiny, but the legislation could have repercussions in Ontario if it prompts an exodus of those who oppose the restrictions.
He says he's spoken to many people in the Jewish community who are concerned about the proposed charter.
"We just want to reassure the people living in Ontario that this is not what the province of Ontario is going to do, and to really emphasize that we value their diversity, we value their culture, and we're supportive of it," Kwinter said.
There are many ex-Quebecers who moved to Ontario 30 years ago amid sovereigntist turmoil in that province, he said.
People from all kinds of religious and cultural backgrounds who came to Canada and settled in Ontario "treasure freedom of expression," Kwinter added.
Polls suggest the proposed charter is popular in Quebec, however.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has said the inclusive nature of Canadian society is worth preserving and said she would oppose anything that would attack that inclusion.
Kwinter's motion is expected to be heard in the legislature on Sept. 19.
He said the opposition parties will have an opportunity to speak to it and hopes it will receive all-party support.