A Leger poll in Quebec has revealed that three in five Quebecers believe it is “unacceptable” for teachers to wear visible religious symbols like the hijab, a kippah, a cross or a Kirpan at work.
Next spring, the Quebec government is expected to introduce a bill banning visible religious symbols for teachers and state employees in positions of authority, such as judges, police officers and prison guards. Premier François Legault’s plan is supported by a majority of the province.
Although opposition to religious symbols is stronger among respondents aged 55 and up (73 per cent), younger Quebecers are also divided. Almost half of millennials (48 per cent) think it is unacceptable for a teacher to wear a hijab, for example.
The Leger poll illustrates an obvious gulf between Quebec and other Canadian provinces. While 61 per cent of Quebecers said that visible religious symbols are “unacceptable” for teachers, the number of those sharing that opinion in other provinces hovers between 18 per cent and 29 per cent.
While it has yet to adopt an official position on Legault’s proposal, the National Federation of Quebec Teachers (FNEEQ) — which represents teachers from private and post-secondary institutions — has repeatedly opposed bans on religious symbols for educators since 2013.
This is an issue that is expected to come up around the time of the next federal elections and it will be something that federal party candidates will be asked about as they campaign. It is a divisive issue that is exposing major fault lines in Canadian society. -CINEWS