According to the new Charter of Quebec Values, skullcaps (kippa or yarmulke), religious jewelery, & religious garments will be prohibited throughout public sector.
Canadian Jewish community outraged, where many compare initiative to Putin’s homophobic legislation.
By Tali Farkash
If you are a Jewish doctor in the Canadian health care system in Quebec, you may soon be forbidden to wear a skullcap. As part of the Charter of Quebec Values that is being developed these days in the Canadian province, employees of the public service will not be allowed to put on or wear religious symbols or garments.
CTV News Channel – one of Canada’s largest television channels – reported that the ban will apply to the entire public sector, including hospitals, government offices, schools and even toddler daycare centers.
Jewish community closely watching
The new initiative already brought about a wave of angry responses, and a heated debate regarding questions of religious freedom alongside a neutral and secular government.
Less than a decade ago, a similar law in France banning burqas caused a similar reaction. It is quite possible that the French law was the inspiration for the current Charter of Values in the Canadian French-speaking province.
The local Jewish community is following the events with great concern. According to the public relations website CNV, two weeks ago a delegation of Jewish leaders met with Bernard Drainville, the minister responsible for the proposed charter.
The delegation’s leader, Eric Maldoff, expressed his fierce opposition to the initiative, and dubbed it “one step too far.” During the meeting, Jewish Federation President David Cape provided a historic review of the crucial contribution of the local Jewish community, which he claims greatly contributed to the prosperity of Quebec.
Local premier in favor
Various media outlets across the country noted that only two months ago, Quebec was in the center of a similar scandal, after the local soccer association banned a teenager from playing while wearing a turban – a decision that triggered a wave of condemnation across Canada, until finally the association retracted the decision.
Yet Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, leader of the separatist party, is in favor of the initiative. According to the National Post, Marois claims that the Charter of Values will help to preserve the French language and the principal of equality between men and women, alongside unifying the province’s people. According to her, the charter does not reflect “universal” values – but rather “Quebec values”.
The charter’s opposers were joined by many intellectuals, including well-known philosopher Charles Taylor. According to the Globe and Mail and other sources, Taylor explained that the current ban is the farthest thing from the supposed goal of state neutrality on religion. According to him, instead, it deems a set of deeply personal freedoms to be unworthy. He compares the initiative to what Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has done by banning “gay propaganda”.
At this stage, it is still unclear whether the Charter of Quebec Values will indeed pass legislation, and what will be the stance of the federal Canadian government on the matter. Marois’ government is in minority, and in the upcoming elections in the fall, Quebecois may vote against the initiative.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4422835,00.html