Parti Quebecois religion plan gets support from retired Supreme Court judge -

Parti Quebecois religion plan gets support from retired Supreme Court judge


MONTREAL – A former Supreme Court judge has joined a movement supporting the Parti Quebecois’ controversial charter of values.

A pro-secularism group says its 60 members include retired justice Claire L’Heureux-Dube.

Some members of the Rassemblement pour la laicite held a news conference Tuesday, without the ex-judge present, to explain their support for the PQ plan to restrict religious headwear in the public service.

Although several polls suggest the plan has considerable support in Quebec, there has been vigorous opposition and many prominent Quebecers have spoken out against it.

The pro-charter side is pushing back. The group’s supporters include L’Heureux-Dube, former student strike leader Martine Desjardins, union leaders, and members of minority communities who oppose religious accommodation.

Leila Bensalem, an Algerian-born teacher at a multiethnic school in Montreal, applauded the PQ initiative. She said the list of demands for religious accommodation at school is growing, from halal food to separate gym classes for boys and girls.

“We are literally bombarded, day after day and week after week, by demands for reasonable accommodations,” she said Tuesday.

“We’ve been asking ourselves for years, ‘When will someone finally stand up and put an end to these hot potatoes in schools?’ ”

She said religious clothing is the first way fundamentalists begin to exert their influence.

“That veil is an ideology… The fundamentalists, when they establish an Islamic republic, the first thing they ask from Muslim women is to wear the veil,” Bensalem said.

“It’s like the flag they want their women to wear. They represent fundamentalism… Even if they say, and they keep saying, ‘It’s my choice,’ they forget to say this is the only choice they have.”

L’Heureux-Dube was not at Tuesday’s event. However, in an interview this year with Radio-Canada, she expressed concern about women covering their faces.

The judge also argued that while certain rights are fundamental, like the right to life and equality, other civil liberties “can be reduced” in a “free and democratic society.”

L’Heureux-Dube, 86, was appointed to the Supreme Court by ex-prime minister Brian Mulroney in 1987. She was the second woman ever named to the high court and she served until 2002.

The question of whether the PQ plan would ever pass the constitutional test has been a matter of some contention.

The PQ says its plan was studied, and endorsed, by provincial Justice Department analysts, although there have been reports that the government ignored legal advice it didn’t like.

The government is also under pressure to show any feasibility studies for its plan — such as the scope of the problem it’s supposed to be responding to, and what the impact would be on people and institutions.

The PQ says it plans to introduce its legislation in the fall. Since the current plan has insufficient support from the legislature’s other parties, the PQ could either water it down or use the issue in an election.

Attempts to reach L’Heureux-Dube this week were unsuccessful, and the Rassemblement pour la laicite said she was travelling outside the country.


Parti Quebecois religion plan gets support from retired Supreme Court judge

  1. Then apply it to everybody. No exceptions.

    • I agree!

  2. My 86-year-old mother supported outlawing all chewy foods. So what?

  3. Willing to bet her name appears on judgments which disagree with her current position. I hope it’s clear she’s not stating the current law of Canada but a personal preference.

  4. I was just reading about public muslim school in England.
    All female teachers wether or not of same faith must wear hijab, no makeup , no jewelry and never attempt to shake hands with a male teacher because he would be insulted.
    All girls must sit in back of class as only male children are
    allowed to sit in front. No fairy tails can be told and no stringed
    Instruments are allowed. Further to that the 200 children
    In this school can only sing islamic faith songs and the girls can only eat their lunches after the male students have gotten theirs.
    Is this what religious accommodation is causing?

    Name of school” al Madinah school” in Derby , Derbyshire, England

    • Interesting: this school is a “Free School” which basically corresponds to charter schools in North America. They are taxpayer funded.

      From Wikipedia:

      Free schools were introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition following the 2010 general election making it possible for parents, teachers, charities and businesses to set up their own schools.

      So it would seem that conservatives are unwittingly facilitating these institutions . ..