Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital Rejects Proposed Bill Banning Religious Adornment
The new executive director of Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital had strong words for the Quebec government Wednesday, saying the hospital would not even ask to be exempt from the “flawed” Parti Québécois’s (PQ) proposed Bill 60, which includes a ban on public-sector workers wearing “objects such as headgear, clothing, jewelry or other adornments which, by their conspicuous nature, overtly indicate a religious afï¬liation.”
In a statement that carried the endorsement of the hospital’s board of directors, Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg said, “Since the bill is inherently prejudicial, there is no point in taking advantage of any clause that would grant us temporary, short-term relief.”
He said, “This bill is flawed and contrary to Quebec’s spirit of inclusiveness and tolerance.”
Rosenberg was referring to a proposed clause that would allow hospitals and other publicly funded institutions to opt out of the ban for the first five years after its implementation.
According to the Globe and Mail, the Jewish General Hospital, located today in one of Montreal’s most diverse neighborhoods, was built in 1934, in response to prejudice Jews faced getting treatment and entering medical professions in Christian institutions in Canada.
Quebec’s Minister of Democratic Institutions, Bernard Drainville, introduced the charter — now called ‘Charter Affirming The Values Of Secularism And The Religious Neutrality Of The State, As Well As The Equality Of Men And Women, And The Framing Of Accommodation Requests’ — in the National Assembly last week.
Many in the government have spoken out against the bill, and, as the PQ has a minority government, it is unlikely to pass the bill in its current language.
Last week, Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney voiced his concerns about the new legislation.
“We will be closely monitoring the outcome of this legislation,” Kenney said, according to the Globe and Mail. “If the bill as currently framed, seeking to ban certain Canadians from participation in public life, becomes law, we will closely analyze it. If it is found to violate our Constitution and our constitutionally protected freedom of religion, we will challenge it.”