Is Bill 21 in Quebec a Discriminatory Action, or Does It Serve to Protect Secularism?

Meeting Was Held On -

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 12:08 PM

Some of the areas that we covered were:

  • The importance of ‘symbols’- the cross, stars, turbans, hijabs, etc. Our symbols appear to be very important to us. How we exemplify our individuality is often exemplified by our choices in clothing and symbols (religious or otherwise).
  • Forbidding outward expression of religious or cultural symbols eliminates Sikh’s, religious Jewish males, and observant female Muslims from public sector employment.
  • How mature are we? Would those who define themselves by these symbols drop their personal perspectives when encountering the public? Are we as the public, mature enough to drop OUR prejudices when faced with a person who wore their symbols? Would we attempt to ‘gain favour’ if we recognized our own symbols in a teacher, judge, etc.?  Some felt we would not, others felt it would be possible.
  • Some expressed distrust, knowing that the individual we are encountering (in the public sector) places their religion, or cultural symbol, ahead of their role as a representative of Canada (a government worker, teacher, political candidate, etc.)
  • Children are highly impressionable. Should we permit teachers to have this influence on their classes? We need to educate the teachers to present themselves as non-biased.
  • We wondered whether people are less likely to be any less biased, if they work without their visible symbols? Would this help in the long run?
  • A member commented that prejudices seem to be more prevalent in rural jurisdictions around the world.
  • We talked about being mindful of human rights- a value that must remain front and centre when discussing these issues.
  • As usual we concluded that there is no one right answer. Taking into account human rights, we need to make laws that honour secularism while not openly discriminating against particular groups.

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