News East West
TORONTO: Opposing the proposed Charter of Values in Quebec, the New Democratic Party says it will fight for the rights of minorities.
The proposed Charter of Values bans religious clothing such as turbans, hijabs, crucifixes and kippas by government employees in schools, courts, hospitals, municipal bodies, provincial boards and even liquor stores.
Announcing the new charter, Bernard Drainville, Quebec’s minister for democratic institutions and citizen participation, said on Tuesday that it will act as `a guarantor of equality under a secular state’.
“The time has come to unite us around clear values and common rules….This is measured, balanced. Quebec is increasingly a multiethnic, multireligious society. This is a great source of richness. It’s also why we need clear rules,” the Quebec minister said.
Swiftly opposing the new charter, which will come into force after legislators vote on it, NDP leader Tom Mulcair said his party `will steadfastly continue to defend human rights, in reaction to the Parti Québécois’ proposed Charter of Values.’
The NDP leader said, “Human rights are a fundamental principle in a democratic society. We don’t believe that this charter conforms to this value.’’
He said the NDP was the only federal party that took an active part in the Bouchard-Taylor Commission in 2007, submitting a detailed brief defending minority rights based on the values and beliefs of New Democrats.
“We are profoundly disappointed that the PQ is using such a sensitive issue to try to score political points,” said Mr. Mulcair. “Human rights don’t have a best before date. They are not temporary. And they are not a popularity contest,’’ Mulcair said in his statement.
Asking legislators to find solutions that bring people together, not divide them, the NDP leader said “using fear and playing politics on these sensitive issues is the wrong approach. The NDP will always stand up for minorities and work with all Canadians to find solutions.’’
The ruling Conservative Party has also opposed the charter and is seeking legal advice whether the Quebec measure violates basic fundamental rights.