Montreal City Hall has finally decided to do something that the Quebec government refuses to acknowledge. After many debates, the administration of Mayor Valerie Plante has decided to remove the crucifix that is hanging in the council chamber at city hall.
During renovations that will begin in April, the crucifix that has been hanging above the speaker's chair since 1937 will be removed. Executive-committee member Laurence Lavigne-Lalonde said that the renovations will give city council an opportunity to keep up with Montreal's secular status.
TL;DR Montreal City Council will finally remove the cross from the chamber in city hall after years of scrutiny and pressure from the public. Officials acknowledge that this will give city hall an opportunity to represent Montreal's secular values to better serve the public.
For more than 80 years, Montreal City Hall has displayed the crucifix to represent former religious values. When it was installed in 1937, Montreal city officials would conduct their work "under the eyes of God".
In a statement to the Montreal Gazette, Laurence Lavigne-Lalonde, committee member responsible for democracy, said that we "live in a society that has evolved enormously and is represented by institutions that are democratic and that must be secular, neutral and open to all citizens".
Mon administration accueille favorablement le #Budget2019 fédéral, qui reconnaît le rôle et le leadership des municipalités et qui prévoit des sommes suppl. substantielles pour nous appuyer dans la réalisation de nos projets. (1/5) #polcan#polmtlpic.twitter.com/aQuiE831Uj
After on-going religious neutrality debates in Quebec City, the removal of the crucifix from Montreal City Hall might come as a surprise to some.
Remember, Legault outright banned the display of religious symbols for public officials but yet kept the crucifix in Quebec's National Assembly, citing "heritage" reasons.
Montreal has also acknowledged the cultural significance of the chamber hall's crucifix but instead of keeping it above the speaker's seat, the cross will move to a heritage museum located in City Hall once the renovations are complete.
City Hall will be closed for three years starting in April. The on-going renovations will remove many cultural artifacts from the original chamber and place them in a brand-new museum space that will be open to the public.
This news comes with the announcement of the new Federal Budget that has earmarked $500 million dollars for Quebec municipalities. According to reports from the CBC, Montreal plans to spend their share on further infrastructure developments.
It's great that Montreal officials have decided to remove the crucifix from City Hall despite the Quebec government not doing the same. Once again, this proves that Montrealers have uniquely secular values compared to the rest of the province.
No word on whether the Mont-Royal cross will be removed, but according to Quebec, it's not a religious symbol, right?
Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.