A campaign is launched to oppose the law on secularism

“No to law 21” This is the name of a campaign launched Thursday, in terms we could not be clearer. Citizens rallied to continue their fight against the Act on secularism of the State, inviting Quebecers to denounce by wearing the macaroons they distribute and also wearing the religious sign of their choice.
Thelaunch took place in Montreal at a Protestant place of worship, St. James United Church.

Ehab Lotayef, one of the campaign coordinators, who is Muslim, had a kippah on his head, a cap worn traditionally by the Jews.

“I’m going to wear it all the month of September,” he said.

This law may have been passed, but it is an unfair law, he said near the altar of the church. For opponents, it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and limits the employment opportunities of people on the basis of their religion. “We’re not going to just accept it.”

The State Secularity Act – known prior to its adoption as Bill 21 – prohibits the wearing of religious symbols by certain employees of the state while in the line of duty, including the police, Crown prosecutors and prison guards, as well as teachers in public elementary and secondary schools.

Hitting a wall

A teacher of Tunisian origin wearing the veil, who revealed only her first name, Ola, testified that after an extraordinary year in a public primary school in Montreal, she hit a wall for the current school year. Since she is not a permanent employee, if she accepts a contract for this year, she will have to sign a clause that she agrees not to wear a religious sign in the classroom, she said. For her, it means removing her veil.

“This law comes to deprive me of my rights, to be a free woman, able to decide where to work, what to wear. Personally, I do not see what this law will bring more or better to Quebec society, “she said.

“Except the social tension I feel and see. And that I live. ”

She stressed that it was difficult for her to testify, saying she was destabilized by the “unacceptable” comments she sees on social networks.

According to Rabbi Michael Whitman, “the negative effects of this law will go far beyond the people who are directly affected […]. She gave permission to incivility. ”


The members of the citizens’ group invite Quebecers to wear the macaroons they have produced in large quantities and they distribute freely. On these, we can see the words “Loi 21”, crossed by a red line. Wearing the macaron publicly demonstrates his opposition to the Caquist government’s legislation and support for those “whose rights are denied by this discriminatory law,” they argue.

Their goal is to gather by October 6 some 50,000 people wearing the badge and the religious sign of their choice, who will participate that day in a day of public action. They also want to generate a discussion about the law and change the minds of those who support it.

At the launch on Thursday, representatives of different religious communities were present.

The law on secularism of the State was adopted last June by the National Assembly.

It was a very sad day, according to Manjit Singh, a Sikh confessor who was in the past chaplain at McGill University in Montreal.

“We came here legally, and suddenly, because we have something on our heads, it’s no longer acceptable,” he said.

And it ruins people’s lives, added the man.

Their civil opposition to the law is parallel to the ongoing legal challenge, they said.

In mid-July, a judge of the Superior Court dismissed the request from civil liberties and religious groups that called for the suspension of the State’s secularism act. Justice Michel Yergeau then ruled that the law would continue to apply until a court decides on the merits of the case. Because the ultimate goal of these groups is to invalidate this legislation. In August, the Quebec Court of Appeal agreed to consider the injunction application.

SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD – Is the debate on secularism closed in the Parti Québécois? Yes, considers the MP Martin Ouellet, but until 2022, qualified the interim leader PQ Pascal Bérubé.

Now that the Caquist government’s Bill 21 has been passed, “for us, this debate has taken place, we are able to move forward on something other than, exclusively, this debate that has torn us over the past 10 years. years, “said Ouellet in a scrum of press after the caucus of elected PQ in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Thursday.

Pascal Bérubé dismisses a revival of the debate in the current mandate, but it excludes nothing for 2022.

The last PQ government of Pauline Marois was however at the origin of the Charter of Values, a draft law on secularism that went further than the law of the Legault government. The PQ voted for Bill 21 of the CAQ, but wanted to strengthen it.

Mr. Ouellet recalled that in the new Declaration of Principles of the PQ unveiled Wednesday, it was question of identity, culture and values, but not secularism.

In a press conference soon after, Pascal Bérubé said that the PQ was not going to propose a new bill and instead wants to see the effects of Caquist legislation passed in June under gag. “We moved on to something else,” he said, while not wavering back to the charge, but “not in this mandate”, so until 2022.

“It is always our position” to impose state secularism on more categories of employment than what was adopted by the Caquists.

Remember that Legault’s law prohibits the wearing of religious symbols, in particular by police officers, Crown attorneys and prison guards, as well as teachers. The PQ was calling for an extension of the ban to daycare educators and private schools. The Canadian Press

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