Draft law on the neutrality of the State: religious accommodation will still be possible

News 15 August, 2017
  • Archival Photo Simon Clark/QMI Agency

    Kathryne Lamontagne

    Tuesday, 15 August, 2017 14:28

    Tuesday, 15 August, 2017 14:38

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    The principle of neutrality of the State extends to municipalities as well as transportation companies, public services should be given and received face to face… but all of this can still be the subject of accommodations, specified the minister of Justice.

    Set aside in January last as a result of the attack against the mosque of Quebec, bill 62 is returned to the national Assembly on Tuesday, for its detailed study at the red Room. The minister of Justice has presented a series of amendments to the draft, tabled at the origin in 2015.

    Despite requests from the opposition, the minister Stéphanie Vallée does not remove the exceptions for religious reasons, among officials and citizens who wanted to escape to the open face in the exchange of public services. Such a measure would be contrary to the Charter of rights and freedoms of the person, said the minister in press conference.

    Municipalities subject

    Among other amendments, the minister wishes to subjugate the municipalities, metropolitan communities, municipal utilities, municipal offices residential and transport companies in this bill, as the elected municipal officials and members of the national Assembly.

    An individual could as well take the bus with their face covered ? The minister Valley has not wanted to comment this “case”, claiming that “someone who wishes to set-up a workout to this principle-there must be a demand and the demand will be analysed”.

    Secularism versus neutrality

    The minister Valley has also added to its bill a preamble, in which it insists on the affirmation of the “religious neutrality of the State”. The concept, however, is criticized by all the opposition parties, which applied rather to the principle of “secularism” in public institutions.

    The PQ is the question, moreover, how the government can proclaim the “religious neutrality” of the State, but deny that it is embodied in its employees in a position of coercion, which will be able to wear religious signs in the exercising of their functions.

    In effect, the PQ hopes that the magistrates, Crown prosecutors, police officers and prison warders display a religious neutrality. The CAQ abounds in this sense and adds to this list teachers in primary and secondary school. The two parties are calling for the ban express port of the chador, the niqab or a burka for public servants.

    None of these requested changes is to be found in the amendments of the government.

    Started in the beginning of the day, the detailed study of the project of act 62 should be continued until 18 h, Tuesday. After which two other sessions are planned by the beginning of the month of September.