Quebec’s secularism bill banning religious symbols for teachers, police officers and other public servants in positions of authority was voted into law late Sunday.
The bill prohibits public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols on the job. Its opponents say the law targets religious minorities while the government argues it affirms the Quebecois people’s secular identity.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec government introduced last-minute amendments toughening the law, making provisions for a minister to verify that it is being obeyed and to demand corrective measures if necessary.
The legislation includes wording that pre-emptively invokes Section 33 of the Canadian Constitution. As a consequence, no citizen will be able to challenge the bill on grounds it violates fundamental freedoms granted by law.
A Section 33 declaration, however, needs to be renewed every five years. Legault told reporters earlier in the day his government was closing a door that no one would choose to reopen.
Bill 21 also forbids anyone giving or receiving a state service with their face covered.
Besides the bill also creates a legal framework that allows the government to force newly arrived immigrants to pass a French-language and so-called values test before becoming eligible for permanent residency.
While specific wording on the two proposed tests isn’t included in the bill, the legislation permits the province to institute the tests by way of regulation.
Also contentious is the provision in Bill 9 permitting the government to cancel roughly 18,000 immigration applications — some from people who have waited in limbo for years as their files languished under the old system. Those applicants will have to start the process over again.
Including the applicants’ families, the fates of some 50,000 people hoping to immigrate to Quebec are up in the air. -CINEWS