Coalition backs PQ plan on minorities
QUEBEC—The Parti Quebecois plan on minority accommodations took a big step toward becoming a reality today, with the party that likely has the swing vote in the legislature backing major parts of the plan.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec said it agrees that judges, police officers, and elementary- and secondary-school teachers should be restricted from wearing religious symbols.
It so happens Quebec has considerable wait times for hospital and day care services—and workers in both those fields already have been featured in media reports saying they would refuse to comply to the PQ plan, quit their jobs, or leave Quebec.
Coalition leader Francois Legault said if a court strikes down the plan, he would not hesitate to use the Constitution’s controversial notwithstanding clause to enforce it.
“What we say also is that we should exclude religious signs for employees being in authority, like judges, policemen—and teachers because we think that teachers, they have in front of them children in a vulnerable position. But that’s it,” Legault told a news conference.
“We don’t think, like the Parti Quebecois, that we should extend this exclusion to doctors, nurses, all civil servants,” Legault added.
“We think that they should have the right to continue to wear a religious sign because they are not in an authority position.”
The CAQ’s votes are key because the PQ only has a minority in the legislature and the other big opposition party—the Liberals—is more hostile to the plan.
The emerging consensus in Quebec is that the issue could be a political winner.
A poll released today said 65 percent of Quebec’s francophones, and 57 percent of the overall population, agree with the idea.
Just 25 percent of anglophone respondents said they agree.
But whether the plan actually is a vote-winner could be another story.
A poll published during last year’s election placed the minority accommodation issue as No. 15 on Quebec voters’ list of priorities—far behind economic and social issues.
Details of the PQ plan—leaked last week to the Journal de Montreal—said the government would restrict the right of state employees to wear religious clothing like turbans, hijabs, and visible crucifixes.