Winnipeg reacts to Quebec's possible ban on religious garb
Quebec hatches controversial plan to create charter of values
The Manitoba government has come out in staunch opposition to a Quebec plan to ban religious symbols for public workers.
The Quebec government has released a controversial proposal to create a charter of values that would stop public sector employees from wearing any "ostentatious" religious symbols.
That means everyone from health-care personnel to teachers would be banned from wearing a turban, hijab, large crucifix or any other symbol while working.
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The plan has gained national attention and concerned religious groups across the country.
On Friday, the Manitoba government released a strongly-worded statement, saying the charter would undermine the "principles of inclusion, respect for diversity and acceptance that we hold dear as Manitobans and as Canadians."
The statement continued, "Our government will never go down that road."
Winnipeggers seem to agree.
Amer Parwana is Sikh and wears a turban whenever he goes out.
"[Under the charter] I would not be allowed to wear a turban, and I can’t go out in public unless I wear a turban, so I don’t understand what they expect?" he said.
He said people in important positions such as doctors and police officers would have difficult decisions to make.
"How many of those doctors saved lives? And now, because they wear turbans, they’re not allowed to work?" he said. "It’s just exasperating."
Quebec’s government argues the move is to ensure religious neutrality.
Bernard Drainville, Quebec’s minister for democratic institutions, said he wanted to see that neutrality apply to every person working for the province. The policy, he said, is meant to promote equality, unity and cohesion.
But Winnipegger Eric Labuapa thinks it would have the opposite effect. Labuapa is Christian and said he would hate to see his friends who wear religious clothing have to choose between work and religion.
"Once you start to go into people’s cultures, ethnicity, their self identity, and you’re trying to mandate how they should do that, we’re no longer living in Canada," he said. "That’s my worry."
Winnipegger Ardo Barkhadle is Muslim and said wearing a hijab is part of her identity.
"[The proposed charter] just makes me feel unwelcome and excluded from my own country and my own rights — my own constitutional rights," she said. "I do feel it’s a form of hatred."