School board vows to disregard Quebec bill restricting religious symbols

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The bill tabled by Francois Legault's Coalition Avenir Quebec government on Thursday would ban the wearing of religious symbols by many public sector employees, including teachers, prosecutors, judges, and police officers. The proposed ban has even made worldwide headlines, but that seems to have no influence on the Quebec government who has fatuously promised to use the Notwithstanding Clause to stop any legal challenges to Bill 21. "We fear that this ban will have a trickle-down effect into the private sector and young Sikhs who are born and raised in Quebec will find it even more hard to find jobs in the province" he said.

WSO President Mukhbir Singh said: "We are deeply disappointed that the CAQ has introduced legislation banning the wearing of religious clothing and symbols in Quebec". "This just sends the message to people who wears religious symbols that we are secondary citizens", she said in a phone interview.

But condemnation was quick, with Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith calling the bill "an assault on the fundamental rights and freedoms of Quebecers", while the National Council of Canadians Muslims said it will make Muslims and other minorities "second-class citizens" and overwhelmingly impact Muslim women.

The federal and Quebec charters protect the freedoms of conscience and religious expression and the right to equality.

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The proposed law, introduced on Thursday, sets the province's right-leaning Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government on a collision course with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promotes religious freedom, in a federal election year with a Quebec a vital battleground.

"The Sikh community of Quebec would challenge this bill before it become a law". The clause contained within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows authorities to override charter protections for a five-year period. That law is being challenged in court on the grounds it discriminates against women wearing the niqab or burka.

The stated goal of the bill, which is entitled "An act respecting the laicity of the state" would be to "affirm religious neutrality in a manner that 'ensures a balance between the collective rights of the Quebec nation and human rights and freedoms", reported CBC News.

The wearing of the turban and the Sikh articles of faith is not optional for Sikhs and a ban on these articles of faith was, in effect, a ban on Sikhs in positions of authority. "The government is entering a slippery slope and going against certain fundamental principles of the Quebec and Canadian charters of rights and freedoms", she said. "The responsibility of the current generation is to appropriate this precious heritage and create a future that inspires those who will follow", he said. Visible minorities already have a harder time finding jobs in Quebec than the white francophone majority, he said, and the bill reinforces the idea that a person can be judged based on his appearance.

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