The Quebec Government Will Use Punishments To Force People To Remove Their Religious Symbols Under Bill 21
Bill 21 was passed last night at around 10:30 p.m. after months of contentious debate. The National Assembly's session was extended by Legault, who also imposed a gag rule to force members of the assembly to vote on Bill 21 as well as an immigration bill.
The contentious bill, which sought to prevent government employees from wearing religious symbols, passed with 73 votes for and 35 votes against. The Bill 21 was amended to include what Liberal critics are calling a "secularism police" that will be allowed to enforce the bill.
The Parti Québécois joined the CAQ in voting for the bill, while the Liberal Party and Québec Solidaire strongly opposed the bill.
The bill that passed prevents government employees "in positions of authority" from wearing religious symbols. Furthermore, it prevents people with a covered face from receiving government services.
The photo above was shared to the CAQ's Instagram page with the following caption: "✔ After more than 10 years of debate on the subject, the government of the CAQ has finally passed a bill aimed at secularism of the state."⠀
People who were in government before the passing of the bill will be allowed to continue wearing their religious symbol, in what is often called a "grandfather clause."
The bill also notes that this new law will have no effect on the symbolic elements of Quebec's cultural patrimony, notably its religious symbols, because these represent its "historical journey."
The bill included a last-minute amendment not debated by the Assembly to punish those who do not comply with the bill. "Corrective measures, including oversight and support measures," may be taken to force Quebecers to comply, according to La Presse and the text of the amendment.
These corrective measures are not detailed in the bill, which makes it concerning as it would appear that the government will decide later what punishments or "corrective measures" are appropriate.
For more information, watch the MTLBlog video below:
These measures were denounced by the opposition as the creation of a "secularism police."
The Liberals are denouncing last-minute CAQ amendments laying out rules of enforcement, including disciplinary meas… https://t.co/cRxpmRwm4M— Maya Johnson (@Maya Johnson) 1560740217.0
The "oversight measures" are concerning, because it would allow the government to keep tabs on you if you're suspected of wearing religious symbols on the job.
The bill is supported by a majority of Quebecers outside of Montreal, though many outside of the province disagree with the bill.
According to CTV, the new law cites the notwithstanding clauses, exempting it from federal action and court appeals. According to La Presse, the text also contains a derogation clause which has the effect of exempting it from the application of the Canadian and Quebec human rights charters.
Liberals plan to not renew the law if they come into power in five years' time, though they state that there is little they can do to counter the bill right now.
Read the full bill on the Assemblée Nationale's website here.