Town of Hampstead won't apply 'racist' Quebec charter

The secular charter is facing mounting derision as towns and universities in Quebec join the group of organizations refusing to implement the proposed ban on religious wear.

Côte St-Luc, University of Sherbrooke join Bill 60 resistance

The Parti Québecois's controversial secular charter would ban public-sector employees from wearing overt religious symbols, such as the crucifix and the hijab. (CBC)

The movement against the secular charter is mounting as towns and universities in Quebec join the growing number of organizations refusing to implement the proposed ban on religious wear.

At a meeting Monday night, the council of Hampstead — a suburb of Montreal — adopted a strongly worded resolution saying it will refuse to recognize the secular charter, if it's passed.

We will not comply with a racist and immoral law.- William Steinberg, mayor of Hampstead

Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg said the charter goes against fundamental human rights.

"We will not comply with a racist and immoral law," he said.

"In the event that the Quebec government passes this odious bill, which will force people to choose between their religious beliefs and their jobs, it will not be enforced in Hampstead."

Côte St-Luc residents rally against charter

As Hampstead council was adopting its new resolution, several hundred people held a rally at Côte St-Luc City Hall.

Côte St-Luc is a historically multicultural suburb on the Island of Montreal.

Mayor Anthony Housefather said the rally was a way to unite the town's Christian and Jewish communities, while also giving residents an opportunity to voice their opinions on the charter.

The crowd, which included clergy and local politicians, gathered at city hall to light a Christmas tree and a menorah side by side.

Housefather said Quebecers should be allowed to practise their religions freely, and dress however they want. 

"I wanted to do something because my residents are angry, they're upset. And so this rally gives them a chance to come out and tell the PQ government that we don't agree with your views on the charter," he said. 

"We're all equal Canadians, all equal Quebecers, and certainly in CSL, all equal Côte St-Lucers."

Educational institutions slam charter

Several educational institutions have also joined the anti-charter movement.

Last week, Montreal's largest English-language school board said it would refuse to carry out the proposed ban on overt religious symbols.

Now a French-language institution, Sherbrooke University, has criticized the charter, which it says is unacceptable.

Sherbrooke University rector Luce Samoisette told French newspaper Le Devoir that the charter doesn't make sense.

Montreal's McGill University has also come out against banning the wearing of religious symbols. 

Concordia University said it is still in the process of formulating its response.

Read the Town of Hampstead's full resolution: 


WHEREAS the Quebec Government has tabled Bill 60, the Charter affirming the values of State secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests (Charter);

WHEREAS the Charter violates the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

WHEREAS the Charter bans the wearing of religious symbols that do not harm anyone and do not interfere with the ability of employees to do their jobs;

WHEREAS the Charter would force men and women who wish to observe their religion or culture to choose between their beliefs and obtaining or keeping a job;

WHEREAS the Charter dramatically restricts the fundamental freedoms of expression and religion;

WHEREAS the Charter has already fanned the flames of intolerance and racism and led to attacks on minorities and this will only get worse if the Charter becomes law;

WHEREAS all men and women, whether they believe in a deity or not, have a moral obligation to oppose any infringements on the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed in a liberal democracy;

WHEREAS the elected officials of the Town of Hampstead, both individually and collectively, wish to stand up for the rights of minorities against the tyranny of an unjust law;

It was proposed by Mayor William Steinberg, seconded by Councillor Jack Edery and UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED:

THAT we believe in the fundamental right of freedom of religion and expression;  

THAT we believe that in a liberal democracy there is a very real place for the separation of church and state and that the state has no right to impose religious beliefs on its citizens. The separation of church and state should not, however, be confused with the persecution of religion by the state.  It is the basic right of every citizen to be free to believe as he will and practice his religion free of state intervention, so long as the practicing of his religion does not interfere with the basic rights of other citizens to freely enjoy their own civil rights;  

THAT we believe the wearing of a Kipah, Sikh turban, or Hijab, is not an impediment to carrying out ones' duties as employees of the State. These symbols do not diminish the wearer, they do not impede the wearer and they are not prejudicial to those with whom the wearer of a religious symbol interacts;  

THAT we reject the notion that people who believe in a deity are somehow lesser citizens. We reject the notion that wearing an identifiable religious symbol that does not physically impede a person from performing his/her duties, is a basis for discrimination;  

THAT we believe in a Liberal Democracy the majority does not have the right to pass racist and discriminatory laws against any minority.  

THAT the strength of a society is not evidenced by its ability to subjugate its minorities but by its ability to protect them.  

THAT should this Charter, or any variation which violates the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. be passed by the National Assembly, the Town of Hampstead will not recognize it as a valid law. We will not comply. We will not be complicit with hatred, racism and intolerance.

Source: Town of Hampstead


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