Provincial human rights commission slams proposed Quebec values charter

MONTREAL – Quebec’s human rights commission has come out against the provincial government’s proposed charter of values, saying parts of it infringe on fundamental rights and freedoms.

The watchdog says the charter, which has not yet been tabled in the legislature, contravenes Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

Commission chairman Jacques Fremont says the proposed values charter is a cause for concern and is a clear break with the text of the charter of rights, which was adopted in 1975.

The values charter has set off a firestorm of debate since first being floated by the Parti Quebecois in last year’s provincial election campaign.

That has continued as more details emerge, with several demonstrations being held against the proposal and another planned for this weekend.

Public opinion polls indicate Quebecers are pretty evenly split on the charter, which would ban workers in the public service from wearing obvious religious symbols such as hijabs.

The commission says prohibiting the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols does not meet the requirements of the provincial charter of rights.

It says formalizing religious accommodation could end up leading to the restrictions on accommodations granted to others, such as the physically challenged.

The commission also questioned the government’s contention it is trying to provide protection against gender discrimination, saying that already exists in the charter of rights.

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