Quebec Votes

PQ says majority government is only path to secular charter

The Parti Québécois says voters will need to elect a PQ majority government if they want the secular 'values' charter to pass.

Parti Québécois's Bernard Drainville says voters want Bill 60 to pass

Parti Québécois candidate Bernard Drainville, who was the minister responsible for Bill 60, says he's been meeting with voters for the past two weeks and they've been telling him Quebec needs a secular charter. (CBC)

The Parti Québécois says voters will need to elect a PQ majority government if they want the secular values charter to pass.

Bernard Drainville, the PQ's candidate for Marie-Victorin, was in Montreal this morning to highlight his party's secular legislation, which would ban public sector workers from wearing overt religious symbols such as the hijab, kippa and 
ostentatious crucifixes.

"Everywhere people are saying to me, 'Mr. Drainville, are you going to give us our charter?,'” Drainville said on Wednesday.

''If we want to affirm equality between men and women, if we want clear rules for religious accommodation, if we want to affirm that our state is neutral when it comes to religion, then we need a Parti Québécois government, because all the other parties oppose the charter."

The announcement comes halfway through the third week of the election campaign. It's left some speculating that his party is trying to shift the focus away from its controversial sovereignty agenda, which dominated the headlines last week.

But on Wednesday, Drainville said today's news conference has been on the schedule since the early days of the campaign.

Other parties offer compromises to Bill 60

Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard has said he would support a softened version of the bill, that only bans the chador, niqab and burqa for women who work in the public sector.

In September, the Coalition Avenir Québec ​proposed a compromised version of the charter, which would ban overt religious symbols for police, judges and figures of authority, as well as teachers, but allow an exemption for health care and daycare workers.

Québec Solidaire also introduced its own version of a secular charter — Bill 398 — in the fall. It's version of the charter would limit the ban on overt religious symbols to individuals in positions of power and authority with the state.

'A vote for the Parti Québécois is a vote for the charter' (in French)