Quebecer’s Values or the Government’s Values?

by camillecharlebois on August 29, 2013 - 4:38pm

            Recently, one of the hottest topics in Quebec is the Parti Quebecois’ latest proposal: the Charter of Quebec Values. As every French Canadian news channel has informed us within the last month, this is our government’s most recent stab at reducing mounting tensions related to multiculturalism. This new policy, if put in place, will have numerous repercussions for all Quebecers. Not many citizens are atheist and every single one of us will eventually come in contact with workers of the government, therefore the instillation of this charter is sure to not leave anyone indifferent. In essence this charter prohibits workers of the public sector from wearing any visible religious symbols, regardless of the religion such as turbans, hijabs or crucifixes. This leads me to wonder: is the implementation of the Charter of Quebec Values fair for all Quebec citizens?

            This is a difficult question to answer since it is so complicated to define Quebec as a whole and even more so its citizens. Our province is one of the most multicultural in Canada and has a very distinct heritage. That in itself may influence a lot of political figures in their decision or legislation making for the province.

            I believe that the Charter of Quebec Values shouldn’t be put in place, at least not as it is currently written. A vast majority of immigrants living in Quebec practice a religion and “foreign-born immigrants now make up 23 per cent of Montreal’s total population” (Shingler 1). When one is a devoted follower, it is rare that he or she will concede and cease wearing religious articles that have a great significance to them.  This means that numerous jobs in the public sector will not be available for a significant proportion of the population, immigrant or not. This simply isn’t fair. How does the wearing of religious symbols affect the quality of service provided by the individual? Aren’t we as a society supposed to teach our children to accept other cultures, be respectful of others and not discriminate? I believe so and therefore this chart would be going against my personal values.

            On the other hand, some might be inclined to think that banning the wearing of religious articles in the public sector would be a good idea since it would make all employees appear neutral when it comes to religious convictions and equal. According to Pauline Marois, “the charter will help bring Quebec together” (Canadian Press 1) and “affirm, once and for all, the equality between men and women” (Canadian Press 1). The Charter of Quebec Values is supposed to reflect Quebec’s values as a whole. This in itself seems like an excellent goal our province should strive towards achieving. But is outright banning certain groups of people really the right way of proceeding in order to unify our province? That is the question we all should ponder. Now I ask you: should we as a province allow this charter to be legislated?

Work Cited

Shingler, Benjamin. "Charter of Quebec Values Expected to Limit Religious Accommodations." The Globe And Mail. Phillip Crawley, 01 July 2013. Web. 27 Aug. 2013. <


"Charter of Quebec Values — with Controversial Ban on Religious Garb — Will Unite Province, Pauline Marois Says." National Post. N.p., 25 Aug. 2013. Web. 27 Aug. 2013. <


I am actually one of those rare atheist citizens nonetheless, I feel very concerned about this new piece of legislature as I feel it goes against basic freedom of expression.

You ask the question: should we as a province allow this charter to be legislated? My answer coincides with your point of view and is most definitively no. I don't think this bill should pass as it is not fair for all Quebec citizens , an ethical question you raised in your post. It is not fair because it is not allowing people to freely choose what they want to wear. I don't think that items such as turbans or crucifies present an imminent danger to others, so why should they be banned for civil servants? Such items represent symbols of devotion towards a certain group, the same could be said for a Montreal Canadiens jersey, which will never be banned.

I simply do not understand how Pauline Marois thinks that banning religious symbols will make people more equal. As you say earlier in the post: ''numerous jobs in the public sector will not be available for a significant proportion of the population [because most will not] cease wearing religious articles...'' People would actually be less equal as not everyone will have an equal opportunity to work for the government. This reminds me of a little something called the ''serment du test'', when in 1673, it became impossible for roman Catholics(Usually francophone) to occupy jobs within the British run government of the time, a method to assimilate the French. Doesn't history repeat itself!

I included an article to this post that talks about many situations where the government puts a negative image on collectively agreed religious accommodations.

As a proud sovereigntist , I follow Quebec’s politics very closely. I agree and defend many laws in order to preserve our culture. I defended Bill 101 because we deserve to have an official language just like any other country. I even agreed with banning the turban on the soccer field for a reason of equality and of security. However, this time Marois definitively goes too far.

As a province, we shouldn’t allow this charter to be legislated for many different reasons. First of all because I don’t think it would unify us, but simply divide us even more. On one side we would have the atheist and on the other, the people who proudly believe in a certain religion. In my opinion, what unifies our province is the work we achieve together. As long as a Quebec worker gives the best of himself at his job and contributes to the economy, he deserves to wear whatever pleases him. I don’t see how religious symbols can affect the quality of the service this individual gives to the population.

However, even though I think we shouldn’t allow this charter to be legislated I still think it would be fair for every Quebec citizen since it bans all religious garbs. In your blog post, you claimed it wouldn’t be fair since it would mainly deprive immigrants. However, if this law deprives immigrants, it also deprives many Quebec citizens since they wouldn’t be allowed to wear a visible crucifix which is their religious symbol. Therefore everybody would be neutral and equal.

Also, as you mentioned in your blog post, you said you agreed that we should strive as a population for equality and unity among our citizens. I agree with you, and therefore give you the following link of an article showing a possible charter proposed by the Coalition Avenir Quebec government that could be a good compromise in order to promote these values, and still respect every citizen’s rights.

I strongly agree with your point of view on the issue at hand. In fact, we can't unify our province by alienating the values of our society's cultures. In my opinion, if we were to ban civil servants from wearing religious symbols, we’d potentially discourage different cultures from immigrating to Quebec. Sequentially, we’d be creating a problem without solving the original one.
On another note, it'd be interesting to point out that Pauline Marois takes a virtue ethics stance on the issue. She is proposing the Charter of Quebec Values because she values equality. In point of fact, her intentions are pure. She aims to benefit a group of individuals, the citizens of Quebec, by leveling out the playing field. She believes she is well-reasoned, as she thinks that getting rid of religious symbols will make everyone equal. However, she does not realize that, if she were to take a consequentialist's stance, she would be analysing the consequences and weighing her options adequately. As a matter of fact, imposing the charter would prevent some religious citizens from working in the public sector. The charter would partially rid religious immigrants of their freedom to work for the government. Therefore, the proposal does not even reflect her personal values, as it does not promote equality.
To add to the discussion, I don't see how any sort of religious symbol can present risk in the workplace. If we analyse the past, the same sort of strategy was used to promote equality with Quebec citizens when turbans were banned on soccer fields in Quebec. Given that the restriction was revoked, you'd think that Pauline Marois would learn from her mistakes. The matter of fact is that the so-called problems of wearing a turban while playing soccer were never proved to be true, much like the alleged complications related to civil servants wearing religious symbols.

Although I am in agreement with secularism, I do not see the ban or religious symbols in the public sector helpful to this belief. Whether you ban religious symbols or not, the religious folk in government will hold onto their beliefs and may or may not make decisions based on those beliefs. In other words, just because you take away a social worker's cross or hijab or anything, it does not mean that you take away their religious views. Furthermore, I do not believe that the Quebec government is banning these symbols based on their beliefs in secularism. I believe that this decision was made to discourage immigrants. This leads us to ask: why is the Parti Quebecois anti-immigration? I believe it is to create a "Quebecois" population that will provide the party with votes in future provincial elections.

About the author