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Quebecois secular dress code sparks divisions

2 min

The government of Quebec is facing bitter criticism and an internal rift after it unveiled a secularism charter this week that prohibits public workers from wearing ostentatious religious symbols.


A move by Quebec's ruling Parti Quebecois to ban public workers in the province from wearing ostentatious symbols has drawn fire from other Canadian leaders, and even created an internal division within the group.

The so-called 'Charter of Quebec Values' forbids state employees from wearing large Christian crosses, Jewish skullcaps or Muslim headscarves to work.

Supporters say the measure will create a more inclusive Quebec, in which people of all religions – or no religion – felt welcome. The move, similar to a law passed in France in 2004, has widespread backing in Quebec.

However, the proposed charter drew condemnation from Canada’s three main federalist parties, and all the mayoral candidates in Montreal’s November election proclaimed they would have the province’s largest city opt out of the dress code.

On Thursday, the proposal became the reason for rift even among the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which holds a slight majority in the French-speaking province.

Canadian MP Maria Mourani and a group of other separatists said the Parti Quebecois government was making a mistake in what seems a bid for short-term election gains.

"It is not enough to win the next election. For Quebec independence, a sovereigntist government most be the most inclusive possible and must therefore embrace widely,” Mourani said in a statement. The party reacted by kicking her out of its caucus.

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