Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality

THE QUEBEC GOVERNMENT’S BILL TO BAN RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS: LEGISLATED DISCRIMINATION THAT CAN HURT THE ECONOMY



Montreal, March 28, 2019 —The Quebec Government’s bill to ban religious symbols in different public service positions is not only legislated discrimination that will create social division and unrest, but it can also hurt Quebec’s international standing and economy.

As a result of this draconian bill that uses the “Notwithstanding Clause” of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to shield it from constitutional challenges, Quebec now stands among the few countries and jurisdictions in the Western world that restrict fundamental freedoms and civil rights of religious minority groups, and that ignore international obligations on human rights.

Despite the limited scope of the bill, its effects will be felt far beyond the provincial civil service; indeed, members of ethnoreligious minorities such as Muslims, Sikhs and Jews in the federal public service and the private sector will encounter tremendous barriers in employment and other sectors. They will also be exposed to greater discrimination and profiling.

The Quebec economy may experience turmoil as this bill follows in the step of the Quebec Government’s recent legislative actions that seek to curb immigration and transform the taxi industry in which a substantial number of drivers and owners are immigrants.

As in cases in the United States involving state governments that adopt laws to curtail LGBTQ rights, CRARR is concerned that major business and professional organizations from other jurisdictions will cancel or withdraw their business conferences and investments in Quebec, out of concern for their employees and participants’ civil rights, but also, as a message to the Quebec Government that legislated discrimination against minorities cannot be supported.

CRARR will work with stakeholders inside and outside Quebec to prevent discrimination based on religion, ethnicity and race in all its forms, and to uphold human rights principles and values that have been made universal since the Second World War.