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September 11, 2013 5:23 pm

Jewish Human Rights Group Says Proposed Quebec Bill, Banning Religious Symbols Worn by Public Workers, “‹”‹is Unconstitutional

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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A diagram from the charter of Quebec values illustrating banned religious symbols for public employees. Photo: Screenshot / www.nosvaleurs.gouv.qc.ca.

A diagram from the charter of Quebec values illustrating banned religious symbols for public employees. Photo: Screenshot / www.nosvaleurs.gouv.qc.ca.

B’nai Brith Canada said on Wednesday that a law proposed in the Canadian province of Quebec to ban all religious symbols, including yarmulkes, turbans, burkas, hijabs and over-sized crosses, in public sector workplaces is unconstitutional and that the Jewish human rights group would intervene legally if necessary to block the bill.

In a statement, B’nai Brith Canada said the proposal, sponsored by Parti Québécois, violates the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and “that it is absolutely unacceptable” as it “”‹”‹discriminates against persons of faith and transforms them into second class citizens.”

“We were pleased to see that the Federal Government has indicated their preparedness to mount a constitutional challenge. The League, with its proven record of defending human rights, is prepared to intervene should it be necessary,” said Allan Adel, National Chair of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada.

Explaining the proposal, the minister in charge of the charter, Bernard Drainville, said, “If the state is neutral, those working for the state should be equally neutral,” Canada’s CBC News reported on Tuesday.

The proposal would apply to judges, police, prosecutors, public daycare workers, teachers, school employees, hospital workers and municipal personnel, while elected members of the national assembly would not be subject to the regulations, CBC News said.

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  • She

    Rocky Kravetsky in an op-ed published in the Winnipeg Free Press advances a very compelliing argument agaisnt the proposed Charter of Values

    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/quebecs-symbol-of-shame-222299191.html

  • BlueShadowII

    No one seems to have noticed or understood that the only sizeable group benefitted by this proposed law would be atheists. Atheists will be delighted by a law preventing YOUR freely following your religion. (Don’t all laws restrict the other fellow?) ALL religions are targeted by this leftist law, making all except atheists second-class citizens.

    I know practically nothing about your Canadian Charter of Rights, but a similar debate rages in the U.S. about whether our First Amendment guarantees freedom OF religion or freedom FROM religion. Sadly, there are many supposedly religious people who argue the latter.

    • Udvarias

      “(Don’t all laws restrict the other fellow?)”
      If you want to take a negative stance, yes. However, the real reasons are: 1st, to protect people from the danger (i.e. potentially injurious or fatal) behaviour of others; and 2nd, to curb ill-mannered behaviour that infringes on the rights of others. i.e. You can not carry a gun because others may get hurt, or worse killed, because of it.

      “ALL religions are targeted by this leftist law…”
      I think you’ve got your wires crossed, it’s not leftist, it’s Fascist. That makes it right wing if any thing.

      “I know practically nothing about your Canadian Charter of Rights”
      Then you know nothing about the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. They’re practically the same. It might help in the US if they adopted a document that guaranteed human rights, it seems that no such thing exists in the US.

  • What the Bill should say

    Covering one’s mouth interfers with the ability to speak properly and with proper volume, therefore the public worker cannot communicate properly. I don’t think covering one’s hair or wearing jewelry interferes with communication unless it is very distracting. The only “ban” (which I think should be handled as a work related regulation) should be on the face covering used by extreme Muslim radical observance, everyone else should be able to observe their religion without interfering with their public work.

    • Udvarias

      Good point, however, those women that would wear a niqab (which covers their mouths) are less likely to work outside the home. Furthermore, women who wear the niqab do work in positions were communication is required in countries in the Middle East, and they seem to have no problem. Besides, laws in Canada and probably the US as well would come down rather hard on employers who refused to hire someone with a speech impediment.

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    Be that as it may. Let’s see what the Religion of Arson has to say.

  • Elke Blinick

    mika stole my thunder.Though I do not think they are Litvak Vatican/CIA agents. Jews do not like it when someone speaks for them (oops I am just doing it right now). The more so when the head of a Jewish organization says something you disagree with. And Frank Dimant certainly has his share of distractors. If he is for something, I am probably against it. Some orthodox Jews do not wear a kippah at work. If they can do without, it cannot be all that terrible.

  • Laser

    A kippah has no more religious significance than any other hat. If they don’t want us to war a kippah, we can wear a baseball cap or any other head covering.

  • mika.

    Who the hell is “Bnai Brit”? Who do they represent? Certainly they do not represent me, any of my friends, or anyone in the Jewish community in Canada. “Bnai Brit” are complete impostors. “Bnai Brit” have done nothing to help the Jewish community in Canada. Zero. These poseur Litvak Vatican/CIA agents should just go away already. They are despised and hated by the Jewish and Israeli community in Canada. We know who they are and who pays their budget, and we completely reject this organization!

    As to the proposed Quebec law, it refers to government workers. And I agree, these workers should not be allowed to advertise their political beliefs and affiliation, including so-called “religious” paraphernalia.

    • Al Dross

      who pays their budget?

    • She

      B’nai Brith speaks for a sizeable portion of the Jewish communty throughout Canada. What have they done? Well, let’s s start with their part in having removed caveats against land that forbid its sale to Jews (and others), discrimination against Jews in the work place and in housing, and advocating for aboriginals in Canada. Statistics canada relies on data collected from the Jewish community. B’nai Brith has exceptional surveillance. What have you done?

  • Sunshine

    We all have a price to pay to keep Islam from advancing in our societies.

    Enough complaining. There is no violation of anything. You can practice your religion where you want except not in my taxpayer funded buildings.

    I, in return, will be removing my beautiful crucifix that has been around my neck for the past 20 years because it is too showy. Am I complaining?

    We got rid of the crucifix, Christmas tree and carols to please the minorities. Now, it’s our turn to see how tolerant you are.

    • Bill Sloan

      What do you say about the PQ keeping the big fat cross in L’Assemblee Nationale (excuse: historical item, not religious), and allowing members to wear religious symbols?

      I agree with you in keeping Islam at bay, but the rest of the population should not be lumped in.

      • Sunshine

        Québec has a history, like all nations, and a patrimony. Are we to suppress everything that represents our history to please a minority?

        While we are at it, you would wish that most names of streets and cities and towns be changed also?

        Re Islam: we have no choice, very sadly. It is the only way and we should all collaborate in this effort to preserve our great way of life.

        You know what is happening in Britain, Belgium, Sweden, France, Norway, Denmark, Germany…

        Let this issue be a unifier and not a divider. Together, we will succeed.

      • Sunshine

        Allowing members to wear religious symbols.

        THIS, I AGREE WITH. It will be an easy way to observe the advance of islam in our society.

        It will be very visible and other measures can be put in place eventually. Maybe like in France: no hijabs allowed to be worn in schools by students and now, I believe, a harsher law that will affect private businesses.

        In all these years of being the victims, having to yield concessions while suppressing our own sensibilities, we have complained little. We expect you will act the same way now. Regards.

        • Udvarias

          Do you really think that revoking these human rights is justified considering all the benefits that these societies have derived from the minorities that live among them?

    • Albon

      I never asked you to take down your Christmas tree or to stop singing carols. I just wanted to be able to publicly celebrate my holiday as well. You chose to take it down rather than allow others to display symbols of their faith. Go ahead, wear your crucifix, I really do not mind. I cannot understand why you mind if someone wears a head covering or a kippa or a turban.

      • Jenny P

        Well said, Albon!

    • hollace

      THat is the point. If you think you’re paying taxes imagine the taxes they pay. you don’t get to pick and choose where your personal taxes go. ALL of Quebec citizens who pay taxex have the Right to Representation.
      I bet you’re not aware Sikhs fought for France and died with their turbins on..Isn’t that the ancestory you pretend to have? (hard to tell by the accents that wouldn’t be understood in France.

  • Julian Clovelly

    Surely the question is not so much about whether one should be allowed to wear a religious symbol, as whether one should be allowed to wear any hat or any kind of clothing, including fancy dress, or for that matter none at all.

    Fine by me so long as nobody discrimates against me for wearing my choice of hat.. I rather had in mind one of those PNG contraptions with lots of dangly bits and feathers all over the place.

    Maybe we should invent new religions, or revive old ones so that we can wear “symbols” of those religions too. A bone through the nose perhaps, a string of shrunken heads, dress as a pirate in accordance with the tenets of the Pastafarians (otherwise known as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster). Maybe one could become person on a pilgrimage to find the Holy Grail and wear a suit or armour to work – indoors only – Occupational Health and safety regulations would prevent you wearing it out of doors in case it attracted lightning strikes.

    Another alternative would be to become a sadhu of the Naga sect and demand the religious right to be naked at your desk and at the counter or as headmaster of a girls school. There are endless possibilities. Imagine if the male head of department is a cross dresser and demands the right to wear a tutu

    I suppose you would have to draw a line somewhere. Maybe it could be set at two people wearing the same costume – Otherwise one could all too easily find oneself talking to the back end of a horse

    Mind you – with some governments worldwide – and post offices everywhere – would one really notice a difference…

    • Sunshine

      Love your comment.

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