Bernard Drainville set to release new secular charter proposal

Bernard Drainville says his new secular charter will be a big improvement over the one he put forward when the Parti Québécois was still in power.

Original proposed Parti Québécois secular charter died after it lost 2014 election

Drainville says the Paris attacks, which killed 20 people, show the need for a secular charter to fight against “fundamentalism.” (Radio-Canada)

Bernard Drainville says his new secular charter will be a big improvement over the one he put forward when the Parti Québécois was still in power.  

The PQ leadership hopeful is set to introduce Thursday what he's calling "Charter 2.0" this week, to regulate issues like secularism in the public service.

Drainville said the attacks in France, which resulted in the death of 17 people, show the need for a charter to fight against “fundamentalism.”

But he said the timing of his announcement was planned long before the Charlie Hebdo shootings.

“These attacks are not a reason to postpone the debate,” he said.

The original Charter of Values, which Drainville championed as a cabinet minister, would have banned all future and current employees in every public institution from wearing overt religious symbols.

The legislation died when the Parti Québécois failed to win last spring's election.

Reports say this new proposal would exclude universities from any religious dress code.

It would also include a so-called “grandfather clause” to allow current government employees to continue wearing religious symbols.  

Drainville said other aspects like the ban on religious symbols for public daycare and school employees will remain a key part of the plan.

"The subsidized private daycare centres are important and they always were," he said.  

"Children do not have to be exposed to religious influence."

Drainville said he admits that the charter filed by the PQ should have been accompanied by integration measures.

However, election defeat cut the government's plans short.

Five other candidates running for the PQ leadership are sitting MNAs Alexandre Cloutier, Pierre Karl Peladeau, Jean-François Lisée and Martine Ouellet, and labour rights activist Pierre Céré.

Integrating newcomers

On Wednesday in Quebec City, Drainville unveiled his ideas for integrating newcomers to Quebec.

He said the government needs to do more to get immigrants jobs.

Drainville cites a higher unemployment rate among newcomers compared to the Quebec average.

He is proposing reforms to the immigration process, including pairing immigrants with potential employers before they arrive in Canada.


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