Montreal

Quebec unsure how to enforce ban on wearing religious symbols at work

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said Tuesday police could be called in to deal with any potential violation of the proposed law. She later backtracked, saying it would be up to organization managers to make sure the rules are followed.

Premier François Legault says details on how the government will enforce law still need to be sorted out

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault backtracked after saying police could be called to enforce a ban on religious symbols. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

It remains unclear exactly how the Coalition Avenir Québec government plans to enforce its secularism bill if it becomes law.

Bill 21, which was tabled last week, would bar public sector workers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols.

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said Tuesday police could be called in to deal with any potential violation of the proposed law.

But then, she back-tracked, saying it would be up to organization managers to make sure the law is followed.

Premier François Legault, for his part, said the law would be enforced, but details of how the government will crack down on hijabs, turbans and other religious wear will be worked out later.

The comments come amid growing opposition to the law, and calls for civil disobedience.

Two school boards and some municipal leaders are vowing they won't enforce the ban on religious symbols if it becomes law.

"We believe that neutrality of the state is exercised by the actions of our employees and not by their appearance," Beny Masella, mayor of Montreal West and president of the Association of Suburban Municipalities, said in a statement Tuesday.

Justice Minister Sonia LeBel told reporters court injunctions could be used, dismissing the idea of calling the police.

Meanwhile, Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said members of the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency and federal corrections officers will not be subject to the proposed ban on religious symbols.

With files from Kristy Snell

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