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Montreal city councillor pushes for new motion to protect religious symbols

Montreal City Councillor Marvin Rotrand. Global News file picture

Montreal city councillor Marvin Rotrand wants a new motion to protect the religious freedoms of elected officials.

Rotrand’s motion calls for complete religious freedoms for all existing and future members of the council that would allow them, while in chamber, to wear religious symbols that help define or express their identity.

“It is important that Montreal, at this juncture, speak with one voice so that the government of Quebec is clear as to where the elected officials of Montreal stand,” he told Global News.

Rotrand expects the motion, which could be voted on by Tuesday, will pass with ease.

WATCH: Westmount teachers protest CAQ religious symbols ban

Click to play video: 'Westmount teachers protest CAQ religious symbols ban'
Westmount teachers protest CAQ religious symbols ban

The 36-year veteran of city council says it’s important to pass the motion now before any new provincial legislation is introduced that could impede or limit the use of religious symbols by elected officials.

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Premier François Legault hasn’t proposed any such legislation, but his party is calling for a province-wide ban on all religious symbols worn by civil servants in positions of authority including school teachers.

READ MORE: Quebec’s François Legault speaks to Trudeau, Macron about immigration and religious symbols

However, the government isn’t calling for any restrictions on people elected to office.

Still, Rotrand insists his motion is to get ahead of the curve.

“There is a lot of people out there who are confused as to what actually is being proposed,” Rotrand said, “and a lot of people are worried that when a law comes forward it might include elected officials.”

READ MORE: ‘We will do what we promised’: CAQ government would fire teachers, judges wearing religious symbols

The councillor insists he has the support of numerous visible minority and religious groups, including the Quebec chapter of the World Sikh Organization of Canada.

Amrit Kaur, the organization’s vice president, supports Rotrand’s efforts.

“Individuals should be free to exercise their religion as they see fit. No one should tell them how to dress.”

 

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