Together let’s move forward
1 April 2019
On Thursday, Government House Leader Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled the bill on the laicity of the State in the National Assembly. He stressed that the government was keeping a major promise of the Premier’s inaugural speech, and hoped to obtain the support of as many Quebecers as possible.
The model for laicity of the State proposed in the bill is rooted in Québec’s history, social values and uniqueness. The legislation is a unifying, reasoned and reasonable initiative. This bill is the result of a historical and evolving process that is specific to Québec.
Essentially, the bill aims to affirm and define the laicity of the State in Québec law, based on four key principles:
1- Separation of State and religions
2- Religious neutrality of the State
3- Equality of all citizens
4- Freedom of conscience and religion
The bill prohibits the wearing of religious symbols by government employees in positions of authority such as prosecutors, police officers, prison guards and public school teachers in the performance of their duties. In order to obtain the support of as many Quebecers as possible for this crucial bill, the government has decided that anyone who is an employee at the time the bill is tabled will keep the right to wear religious symbols for as long as that person works for the same employer.
The bill also specifies that public services will have to be provided with the face uncovered, and that where identity must be verified, or for security reasons, people receiving public services may not have their faces covered.
“It is with great pride that I am tabling the bill on the laicity of the State in the National Assembly this morning. This bill reflects a vision of the State that is largely shared by the Québec population, namely that it is high time to prohibit the wearing of religious symbols by government employees in positions of authority. This bill is a true gesture of affirmation. The principle of laicity of the State will now be enshrined in Québec law for the very first time.”
Simon Jolin-Barrette, Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness and Government House Leader