Quebec Premier Francois Legault took to Facebook to reaffirm his position on his government’s controversial secularism bill Sunday afternoon.
“I want to say, finally, it’s a debate that has been ongoing for 10 years,” Legault said in a video posted to his Facebook page. “Secularism doesn’t go against freedom of religion. People are free to practice their religion, but we have to set rules.”
The Coalition Avenir Québec government tabled Bill 21 last Thursday at the Quebec National Assembly. The bill would bar public-sector employees in positions of authority — including teachers, police officers and judges — from wearing religious garb in the workplace.
Opposition to the bill has come from various groups and municipalities, school boards and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
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Both the English Montreal School Board and the Lester B. Pearson School Board have passed resolutions indicating they will not implement Bill 21 if passed.
The City of Westmount and the City of Côte Saint-Luc have also said they will not comply with the law.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante condemned the bill, arguing it violates the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and Freedoms.
Legault defended Bill 21, calling it “as moderate as Quebecers.”
The premier added that his government compromised by adding a grandfather clause. The clause would allow current employees to continue wearing religious symbols.
“It’s an approach that respects our history, our values and an approach that a great majority of Quebecers want,” he said.
He ended the broadcast by saying it’s time to set some rules “because in Quebec, this is how we live.”