MONTREAL – The ongoing debate on religion and secularism will be strong as ever, as a statement released this morning from the Coalition Avenir Quebec says they are supporting the Parti Quebecois’ plan to create a Charter of Quebec Values .
This charter will force the removal of religious symbols in public forums.
According to CAQ representatives, they support the removal of symbols by judges, police officers and elementary- and secondary-school teachers, but medical professionals and daycare teachers will be exempt.
Coalition Leader Francois Legault says that, if a court strikes down the plan, he would not hesitate to use the Constitution’s controversial notwithstanding clause to enforce it.
“What we say also is that we should exclude religious signs for employees being in authority, like judges, policemen — and teachers because we think that teachers, they have in front of them children in a vulnerable position. But, that’s it,” Legault said at a news conference.
“We don’t think, like the Parti Quebecois, that we should extend this exclusion to doctors, nurses, all civil servants. We think that they should have the right to continue to wear a religious sign because they are not in an authority position.”
Legault also said the crucifix in Quebec’s National Assembly should remain in place, as it reflects the Catholic heritage of a majority of Quebecers.
The CAQ’s votes are essential because the PQ has only a minority in the legislature and the other big opposition party, the Liberals, is more hostile to the plan.
According to polls, 65% of francophone Quebeckers believe the charter is a good idea; while only 25% anglophones and 33% allophones agree with it.