Kitchener-Waterloo

Kitchener city council denounces Quebec's religious symbols law

Kitchener councillors voted unanimously Monday night to denounce the Quebec government's secularism bill.

Bill is driven by ‘disdain’ of minorities, says community leader

Two people attend a protest against the Quebec government's Bill 21 in Montreal in June 2019. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Kitchener councillors have voted unanimously to denounce the Quebec government's secularism bill.

Ward 8 Coun. Margaret Johnston introduced the motion at a council meeting Monday night. 

Quebec's Bill 21 bans public workers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols such as crucifixes, hijabs or turbans, while on the job.

"When there is legislated hate and discrimination, people who have even a little bit of a tendency to hate or discriminate against people who are different … are emboldened," Fauzia Mazhar, executive director of the Coalition of Muslim Women KW told The Morning Edition's Craig Norris.

Mazhar attended the Kitchener council meeting and said Tuesday the fact that this legislation applies only in Quebec doesn't mean we shouldn't care about it here.

Hate crimes in Canada reached an all-time high in 2017, Mazhar pointed out, a fact that was largely driven by incidents in Ontario and Quebec.

Here in Ontario, there was a 207 per cent increase in hate crimes against Muslims.

"There is a real fear that people have that once it's happening in Quebec, it can happen anywhere in Canada," she said.

Mazhar says she's hopeful other councils will see what Kitchener has done and consider similar motions.

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