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Religious Tolerance logo

Religious intolerance in Canada

2013-SEP: Proposed Quebec Government's
restriction on some religious clothing & symbols
worn by "state personnel." (Continued).

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This topic is continued from a previous essay

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Examples of women's head covering from different religions:

women's head coverings

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Limits proposed by the Quebec Government on the wearing of religious clothing or symbolic objects by "state personnel:"

A main provision of the proposed Charter of Quebec Values would prohibit certain forms of personal religious expression. It is this part of the Charter that seems to have attracted almost all of the public and media attention.

It would require individuals to have their face uncovered when they go to a government office to apply for or receive government services.

It also restricts:

"... the wearing of overt and conspicuous religious symbols by state personnel in carrying out their duties. This restriction is intended to reflect the state’s neutrality. The employees in question would be :

  • personnel in ministries and organizations;

  • state personnel with power to impose sanctions (judges named by Québec, prosecutors, police officers, and correctional agents);

  • daycare (CPE) and private subsidized daycare personnel;

  • school board personnel, including those in public elementary and high schools;

  • ... [General and Vocational College], and university personnel;

  • public health network and social services personnel;

  • municipal personnel.

However, in the case of ... [General and Vocational Colleges], universities, public health institutions, social services institutions, and municipalities, the board of directors or municipal council could adopt a resolution allowing its personnel to wear such religious symbols. This authorization would be valid for a period up to five years and [be] renewable. It would not apply to the obligation of having one’s face uncovered ..." 1,2

Exemptions from the list of forbidden activities are:

  • Personal Christmas trees, which will be allowed in offices.

  • Elected officials and Members of the National Assembly are exempt from the dress code.

  • Private schools and non-subsidized day cares are also exempt.

  • The large crucifix over the Speaker's chair in the National Assembly will be retained as a "heritage" symbol.

  • The massive cross on the top of Mont Royale is also to be retained because of its heritage status. It is 31.4 m/103ft tall. 2

At first glance, many of the provisions of the proposed Quebec Charter violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- Canada's Constitution. Fortunately for the Quebec Government, the national charter isn't really worth the paper it is print on. It contains a "not withstanding" clause that specifies a procedure by which any province can overrule it by passing legislation that violates human rights clauses in the national charter.

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Examples of forbidden clothing and religious objects worn by civil servants:

Included are large crucifixexes typically worn by Roman Catholics, hijabs by Muslim women, turbans by Sikh men, niqabs by Muslim women, and kippahs (a.k.a. yarmulkes) by Jewish males as shown below:

Forbidden clothing and religious objects 1

Other variations of head coverings by Muslim civil service, including the Al-Amira, Burqa, Chandor, Khimar, and Shayla, would presumably also be banned. In addition, members of the public accessing a service from public servants would have to have their face exposed; wearing of a niqab or burka would be forbidden. 3

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Examples of religious rings, earrings, and symbols that the government would permit "state personnel" to wear:

Allowable clothing and religious objects 1

Note that religious symbols appear to be acceptable if their dimentions are sufficiently small. This would seem to imply that the religious expression police will have to be equipped with rulers and/or calipers. Manufacturers will probably start making rings, earrings, and other symbols that fall within the government's guidelines, and labelling them appropriately.

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Limit the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols," Government of Quebec, undated, at:  Available in French and partially in English
  2. "Quebec values: Christmas and crucixes are in; Hijabs? Not so much," The Montreal Gazette, 2013-SEP-10, at:
  3. A display of Muslim head coverings used by women can be seen at "Muslim Veils — from Hijab to Burqa," Apologetics Index, 2012-NOV-19, at:
  4. The source of the image is unknown. However, it appears to be in the public domain. As shown in the graphic,Some of the images are of head coverings by the general female population of a specific religion; others are by nuns of various religions.

Site navigation:

HomeReligious Conflict etc > Religious Conflict > Canada > here

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Copyright © 2013 to 2015by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-OCT-02
Latest update: 2015-FEB-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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