The recent adoption in Québec of Bill 21, which is ostensibly aimed at imposing “secularism” on the province’s public service and on the people who receive them, is a disgrace and a blatant violation of civil liberties and basic human rights. The law should immediately be repealed.
While current employees have been given some exemptions, the law prohibits the wearing of religious symbols by new public servants in positions of “authority”, such as teachers and police officers.
Not only does this law create two classes of pubIic servants, it violates unionized workers’ collective agreements by permitting discrimination based on prohibited grounds. Worse, it can only lead to further isolation and marginalisation of visible minorities in the province.
Canadians know that legal cover does not legitimize systemic discrimination of minorities on one pretext or another. That is why Canada has acknowledged the dark chapters in our history and has apologized for the Residential Schools of the 19th and 20th centuries, the head tax on Chinese immigrants under the Chinese Immigration Act (1885), the turning away of the Komagata Maru with 376 South Asians in 1914 and the internment of Canadians of Japanese origin in the 1940s. In the 21st Century, Canada can ill afford to enact and implement a regressive and discriminatory law like Bill 21 that targets Canadians of Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faiths, who are guaranteed the freedom of practicing their religion and culture by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
As a staunch supporter of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), PIPSC applauds the campaign led by progressive organisations and labour unions who refuse to accept second-class citizenship for thousands of individuals across the cultural and religious spectrum.