QUEBEC CITY – The Quebec Liberals are clarifying their position on the so-called “Charter of Quebec Values” expected to be tabled next week.
Liberal leader Phillippe Couillard said Thursday his party embraces interculturalism and it will do whatever it takes to protect individual rights in Quebec.
“You can see multiculturalism as a forest of independent trees, while interculturalism speaks of our society as a tree, a trunk which consists of the basic values onto which all of the communities of our society converge, said Couillard.
“It allows us to live together the fact that we have a French-speaking majority in Quebec and total respect of the diversity and individual freedoms of citizens.”
Couillard clarified the Liberal position ahead of a major government announcement.
Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville will introduce guidelines next week to better manage diversity in this province.
Couillard said the Parti Quebecois’ proposal to bar religious garb from the public service would violate individual rights.
“Does the fact that someone wears a cross, a kippa or a turban make that person not competent to work?” he asked.
“It’s a very strange strategy by the way, that to achieve the emancipation of Muslim women, you bar them from working.”
Notre-Dame-de-Graces MNA Kathleen Weil added she’s been getting calls from women afraid of losing their jobs. She said she spends a lot of time reassuring them.
“I tell them that we live in a liberal democracy with a strong opposition and a charter of rights and we have courts.”
The Liberals said that during their years in power, diversity in the provincial civil service increased from two per cent to seven per cent.
In a recent public opinion poll, the majority of Quebecers said they wanted the issue of reasonable accommodation to be tackled and resolved once and for all.