Is the PQ’s proposed ban on religious symbols just a Quebec issue, or a Canada-wide issue?

Thomas Bink
Pulse of Canada
Is the PQ’s proposed ban on religious symbols just a Quebec issue, or a Canada-wide issue?

Since Pierre Trudeau picked up the phrase in the 1970s, Canada has been hailed internationally as a cultural mosaic of multiculturalism and acceptance rather than as a melting pot of assimilation.

That could change this fall, as the province of Quebec is poised to introduce new legislation that would ban its public employees from wearing and displaying 'conspicuous' religious symbols including turbans, kippas, yarmulkes, burkas and even crucifixes.

It's all part of the Parti Quebecois' proposed Charter of Quebec Values, details of which were recently leaked to the Journal de Montreal. The ban would also mean that all religious symbols in public institutions like schools and hospitals would have to be removed.

[ Related: 'Charter of Quebec Values' will be uniting force for Quebec: Marois ]

Some call the PQ's decision to introduce this legislation a war against cultural and religious minorities or an attempt to suppress visible minorities to prop up its Francophone agenda. Others have likened it to Vladimir Putin's Russia, which has garnered international criticism for its intolerance on homosexuality.

Yet Stephen Harper and the governing Conservatives have not stepped into the fray to condemn the proposal. It's clear the legislation is likely in direct conflict with Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but saying something now could be just the spark the PQ needs to ignite another sovereignty debate in Canada.

[ Related: Secularism charter slammed by Quebec politicians ]

Or, as Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Tuesday morning on Newstalk 1010, "It's a Quebec issue ... At the end of the day, I think Quebecers will do what's right."

Still, if the legislation becomes law, Canada's international image could quickly change to one of intolerance and discrimination, in which case all Canadians will be affected.

So we ask you: Is the PQ's proposed ban on religious symbols a Quebec issue or a Canada-wide issue?

Have your say in the comments area below.