Does the PQ Charter of Values violate Canada’s Charter of Rights?

Thomas Bink
Does the PQ Charter of Values violate Canada’s Charter of Rights?

The government of Quebec has finally unveiled its much-anticipated Values Charter, and it has federal leaders up in arms.

"The text confirms our worst fears," NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said shortly after details of the charter were presented in Quebec City. "The NDP will be standing foursquare against this project."

If passed, the proposed legislation would ban all public employees in Quebec from wearing overt religious symbols in public institutions. The law would also remove religious symbols from public facilities like hospitals and schools, but institutions could request a five-year opt-out clause.

[ Full story: Quebec government introduces details of their Values Charter ]

"The state must be neutral because it must show the same respect for all religions — regardless of their beliefs," PQ Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville said in presenting the legislation. "This is measured, balanced. Quebec is increasingly a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. This is a great source of richness. It's also why we need clear rules."

Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said the Department of Justice will review the legislation to determine whether it violates Quebecers' freedom of religion.

"We are very concerned by any proposal that would limit the ability of Canadians to participate in our society and that would affect the practice of their faith and we are very concerned about any proposal that would discriminate unfairly against people based on their religion, based on their deepest convictions."

According to Section 2 the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

So we ask you: Do you think the PQ's Charter of Values violates the Charter?

Have your say in the comments area below.