At the National Assembly today Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled Bill 21, An Act respecting the laicity of the State. Even before examining the bill at length, the MNA representing Marguerite-Bourgeoys and Official Opposition Critic for Secularism, sought to clearly express the principles that will guide her interventions while the bill is being studied.
Throughout its history, the Liberal Party has always fought for minority rights and was proud to have adopted the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms on June 27, 1975; it still guides our actions today.
While the legislation is being studied in parliament, the MNAs who form the Official Opposition will unwaveringly represent citizens who only aspire to work and contribute to our society. We will not endorse measures that would prevent citizens from obtaining jobs because of their religious beliefs- jobs they are passionate about and were trained to do. Employees must be judged for their professional conduct, not on outward symbols of their religious beliefs. The onus of secularism is on the State, not on individuals.
The issues surrounding secularism are not exclusive to Quebec, these questions are being raised in many societies. In Quebec, we have a strong identity and we will continue to defend it, but this bill is not a solution to foster inclusion. This legislation divides rather than unites and promises years of complex legal battles.
With this Bill, the CAQ government is throwing us back into a debate where it is essential to maintain the ever-delicate balance between vivre ensemble (living well together) and protecting minorities. This balance cannot be sought at the detriment of fundamental rights. That is what the Quebec Liberal Party has always stood for and it is what will guide our proposals throughout the study of this bill.
– Hélène David, MNA representing Marguerite-Bourgeoys and Official Opposition Critic for Secularism