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Brief submitted to the National Assembly of Quebec regarding Bill 60

RECAA, an organization founded by elders from the ethnic and cultural communities of Montreal, is committed to working towards a culture of respect, dignity and justice for all elders who face problems because of language and culture.

RECAA supports a secular state that respects equality and freedom of expression, including freedom of religious expression.

Bill 60 contradicts these values. It is premised on a specious argument that wearing a cross, hijab, kippa, kirpan or turban by public servants is a threat to the religious neutrality of the state and to equality between men and women. However, in a secular society, public servants should be judged by behavior and professionalism and not by what they wear.

The direct, biased and grossly unjust effect of the Charter becoming law would be the unemployment of Muslim women as well as men from the Sikh and Jewish communities simply for exercising their right to wear expressions of their religious beliefs. It is morally wrong to require citizens to choose between their religion and their job.

Thus, this bill is clearly a violation of the principle of democracy and freedom of expression, values enshrined in both the existing Quebec and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Quebec via Canada is a signatory.

We therefore cannot support bill 60 and strongly urge this government to work towards creating a secular, pluralistic and liberal democracy that measures itself not by how it excludes its citizens but by how well it safeguards the rights of its individuals and its minorities to live free from racism, racial profiling, sexism, ageism and poverty.

RECAA values diversity, is enriched by it and will continue to work towards a culture of respect for all who live in Quebec! Such a culture is in the interest of all Quebeckers.