FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2019
Press Release: CIJA Voices Opposition to Bill 21
Montreal, QC – Today, the Government of Quebec tabled Bill 21: An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State. This Bill proposes to enshrine state secularism in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, while prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols by state officials vested with coercive authority, and by teachers and principals in public schools.
In response, Rabbi Reuben Poupko, Co-Chair, CIJA-Québec, issued the following:
“The Jewish community of Quebec supports the religious neutrality of the state and recognizes that secularism has historically protected freedom of religion and conscience. While we welcome the exemption to private schools, we are firmly opposed to any restriction of the freedom of religion of individuals in the name of secularism.
“Our community believes that the secularism of the state is an institutional duty and not a personal one. The commitment to secularism does not rest on the outward appearance of individuals. Any legislation that aims to restrict individual freedoms must pass the test of its constitutionality and in this regard, we are troubled by the inclusion of the notwithstanding clause to shield this legislation from a legal challenge.
“We are closely studying this Bill and are committed to participating constructively in the special consultations in order to voice our community’s concerns and opposition.”
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada including Montreal’s Federation CJA