WATCH ABOVE: Hearings into Quebec’s Charter of Values start tomorrow in Quebec City and according to a new Leger Marketing survey, support for the Charter is steady, but that may be slowly changing. Rachel Lau reports.
MONTREAL – “I’m very disappointed with the Charter and what it stands for,” said Theodore Goloff, President of the Lord Reading Law Society.
The public hearings for the Parti Quebecois’ proposed Charter of Values begin Tuesday, as concern over the controversial bill continues to grow.
“We decided for and on behalf of all Quebecers to oppose this legislation,” said Goloff.
The Lord Reading Law Society has already issued a legal statement opposing the Bill.
They said that the legislation contradicts its historical precedent, when Quebec was the first place in the British Empire to allow religious minorities to hold positions of power.
“Then 181 years later comes this Charter and says ‘No, now we have restrictions,'” said Goloff.
“That I find quite offensive. That’s rolling back history.”
According to a recent Leger Marketing survey, 48 per cent of Quebecers still support the government’s plan to outlaw religious symbols like hijabs, kippas and turbans in government jobs, but many also expressed concern over the tone of the debate.
“A majority of Quebecers feel that this leads to stereotyping, to potential bashing of certain groups within society and that is a general concern for Quebecers,” said Christian Bourque of Leger Marketing.
“It’s even more of a concern for allophones in Montreal and anglophones as well.”
Fifty-three per cent of people polled said that they believe relations between communities have already started to deteriorate.
“Over half of anglophones and allophones in Montreal know somebody who they feel would be personally touched or impacted by the Charter itself,” he said.
“When you look at that number among francophones, it’s only 22 per cent.”
These figures hit home with Quebec’s Liberal Party.
“The freedom of religion is the freedom to express one’s religion through the wearing of a religious symbol or sign,” said Kathleen Weil, a Quebec Liberal Party MNA.
“There’s a lot of confusion, I think, in people’s minds about Bill 60 and this so-called Charter of Values.”
Other high profile institutions are also weighing in with strong words.
The Jewish General said its decision to submit a brief is just part of the greater picture.
“It really isn’t about the Jewish General Hospital per se,” said Lawrence Rosenberg, the Executive Director of the hospital.
“It’s more a question about universal human rights.”
The Minister behind the bill, Bernard Drainville, told Global News that he doesn’t feel responsible for Quebecers who feel the Charter is fuelling racial tensions.
“I wish sometimes that people would focus a little less on this issue,” he said.
“And focus more on the rules we are trying to put into place.”
It remains to be seen whether Drainville’s hope for a harmonious resolution will be successful.