March 27, 2019 9:08 pm
Updated: March 27, 2019 9:14 pm

EMSB vows not to comply with Quebec’s proposed religious symbols ban

As Quebec Premier François Legault gets set to table the CAQ's religious symbols bill, a group of lawyers is speaking out. They're calling on the province to refrain from using the notwithstanding clause to push the bill through. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports.

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The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) wants nothing to do with the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s proposed secularism bill.

On Thursday, the province will table its long-awaited legislation, which is expected to bar teachers and other civil servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols in the workplace.

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READ MORE: Quebec premier says he made ‘compromises’ on secularism bill to be tabled Thursday

While Premier François Legault has called for calm, the EMSB says it is strongly opposed to any legislation that bans or restricts its employees from donning religious garb.

At a council of commissioners meeting on Wednesday evening, Quebec’s largest English-language school board unanimously passed a resolution that said it could not support and will not apply such a ban.

“We believe in the secularity of the state while supporting an individual’s right to freedom of religion,” said EMSB chair Angela Mancini in a statement.

READ MORE: Quebec’s proposed religious symbol ban prompts concerns from EMSB community

In February, the EMSB opened its doors to the public for an emergency meeting on the province’s plan. Parents, retired educators, teacher’s associations and residents showed up to express concern about the proposal.

The school board has also strongly opposed similar legislation from other provincial governments in the past, including the Parti Québécois’ proposed Charter of Values.

The move comes one day after a Quebec teachers’ federation filed a legal challenge against the CAQ government over its attempts to track the number of teachers who wear religious symbols at work.

WATCH: Quebec teachers turn to courts over proposed religious symbols ban

The Fédération autonome de l’Enseignement (FAE) said the province’s tactics to provide such information fly in the face of Quebec’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The proposed legislation was a key election promise made by Legault, who maintains it has widespread support from across the province.

There has been criticism against the controversial measure, with some Quebec teachers accusing the CAQ of trying to create a problem where none exists.

READ MORE: Montreal to remove crucifix from council chamber and place it in museum

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also expressed concern over the plan. He has urged Legault to think carefully before invoking the notwithstanding clause to uphold the proposal.

The CAQ government is expected to reveal the details of the bill when it tables it on Thursday morning at the province’s National Assembly in Quebec City.

READ MORE: Anjou Coun. Lynne Shand removed from party following comments about Muslim doctor

—With files from Global News’ Elysia Bryan-Baynes and Rachel Lau

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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