Parti Quebecois: No quick compromises on values plan

QUEBEC – The Parti Quebecois government appears to be digging in its heels on its controversial religion plan and preparing for an extended debate.

Statements from ministers today suggest the PQ has no intention of watering down the plan for speedy passage in the current minority legislature.

One day after a minister expressed a willingness to “improve” the charter, the government clarified that any changes would be minor and would not dilute its basic elements.

While the third party in the legislature is offering to negotiate a deal on a bill, the minister spearheading the proposed Charter of Values says he prefers to put it to Quebecers.

A website set up for the proposed rules has already received 10,000 comments and Bernard Drainville told a news conference the debate could continue for “a number of weeks.”

He welcomed the Coaltion party’s offer but Drainville said he didn’t want to upset the public.

Coalition Leader Francois Legault has urged the government to accept a watered-down version of the charter being proposed by his party and spare the province a “social crisis.”

But Drainville says it’s premature to begin talks with the opposition parties while public debate is ongoing and that the bill has not yet been tabled.

The debate comes as a poll, published in La Presse on Wednesday, suggests the values plan would skyrocket in popularity if its most controversial provision — the one banning religious headwear — were removed from it.

The PQ wants to forbid public sector employees from wearing visible religious symbols including hijabs, turbans, yarmulkes and larger-than-average crucifixes.

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