It's hard to believe that in 2013, the Quebec government has come out with a proposal to ban turbans, hijabs, kippas (yarmulkes) and large crucifixes from government workplaces.
Leaders of all three of Canada's federal parties oppose the so-called "values charter," and Thursday, the BC Civil Liberties Association spelled out its reasons for opposing the plan.
"The Quebec government argues that its proposal is for 'religious neutrality,' but it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be committed to secularism," said BCCLA president Lindsay Lyster.
"Secularism does not mean no or minimal evidence of religion. Secularism means respect for the dignity of individuals to develop their own views free from direction from the state on religion or non-religion.
"Individuals must be free both to hold their own religious views and to express those views, and the attempt to prohibit the expression of religious belief is a fundamental assault on individuals' rights."
We agree. People come to Canada from all around the world in part because we offer freedom: of conscience and religion; of thought, belief, opinion and expression; of peaceful assembly; and of association.
These are basic human rights that, unfortunately, many countries do not respect. The last thing we need is for the Parti Québécois to drag Canadians into an us-versus-them situation, pitting those deemed "acceptable" against those seen as "outsiders."
Quebec Premier Pauline Marios has been accused of playing identity politics to win votes, and to defer attention from real issues in her province, such as a failing economy.
One thing is clear - she's sending a message to both potential immigrants, as well as religious people of all faiths who were born in Canada, that they don't belong.
Most of the world is moving toward inclusion and acceptance. It's appalling that Quebec is heading in the opposite direction.
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