Bouchard v. Taylor: Accommodation report authors at odds

The two authors of the Bouchard-Taylor report on religious accommodation are now publicly disagreeing on one of its key conclusions.

Sociologist, philosopher divided over whether police, prosecutors, judges should wear religious symbols

Philosopher Charles Taylor, left, and sociologist Gérard Bouchard headed a commission that looked at the accommodation of minorities in Quebec, but are now disagreeing publicly about one of its conclusions. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Nearly 10 years after the release of a report that was supposed to help Quebecers get along, the two men who wrote it can't agree on one of its conclusions anymore.

The 2008 Bouchard-Taylor report was the culmination of months of public hearings held in an attempt to address the impact of religious accommodation on Quebec's identity and values.

It suggested that most public servants should be able to wear religious symbols, such as kippas or hijabs, except for police, prosecutors, judges and others who exercise the coercive authority of the state.

Earlier this week, Charles Taylor, one of the report's namesakes, published an open letter saying he no longer endorsed that recommendation and never thought it was a good idea.

This morning, Taylor's co-author, Gérard Bouchard countered with a letter of his own, saying he still stands by the recommendation.

Bouchard says it's a reasonable limitation on people with an enforcement role that will help guarantee their credibility.

While Taylor said he shared his opinion in order to calm the rhetoric in Quebec and move past debates about what people can wear, Bouchard says Taylor's letter has had the opposite effect.

The public disagreement comes not long after politicians in Quebec City put off trying to come up with legislation on religious neutrality because they couldn't find common ground.