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article imageOntario MPPs vote to support freedom of religion and expression

By Arthur Weinreb     Sep 20, 2013 in Politics
Toronto - The purely symbolic motion was introduced to show Ontario will never go the way of Quebec and ban the wearing of religious symbols by government employees.
The vote was held yesterday on a motion put forward by long time Liberal MPP Monte Kwinter. The motion read, "In the opinion of the House, the government of Ontario shall oppose any legislation that would restrict or prohibit people's freedom of expression and religion in public places and affirm that Ontario greatly values our diverse population and the social, cultural, and economic contributions that help make our society thrive."
After members of all three parties spoke to the motion, it passed unanimously by a vote of 82-0.
The motion was in response to the Quebec Charter of Values. After floating the idea of the charter, it was formally released by the Quebec Parti Quebecois government on Sept. 10.
The most contentious issue under the secular charter is that all workers who are paid by the government will be prohibited from wearing "conspicuous" religious symbols including skull caps, head scarves, turbans and crucifixes. Workers affected include not only those usually thought of as civil servants, but doctors and nurses who work in hospitals, teachers, and police officers.
Religious symbols that are banned under the Quebec Charter of Values
Religious symbols that are banned under the Quebec Charter of Values
Government of Quebec
The Charter of Values carves out exemptions; the crucifix in Quebec's National Assembly and the cross on top of Montreal's Mount Royal will be allowed to remain. And the provinces' MNAs, who are paid by the province of Quebec, have not surprisingly exempted themselves from the legislation.
Small religious objects will be allowed as long as they are not "conspicuous." Although the size of permissible religious symbols has not yet been determined, presumably the province will have to hire religious police to go around with tape measures and rulers.
Although the wearing of large crucifixes will be banned, as one pundit pointed out, these items are worn mainly by goths. The proposed charter is seen as being aimed at Jews, Muslims and Sikhs to prevent them from expressing or following their religion.
Outside of the legislature, Kwinter said he did not introduce the motion to cause friction between Quebec and Ontario. Rather, he said the Charter of Values tarnishes Canada's image abroad. Many prospective immigrants do not distinguish between Quebec and the rest of Canada and think Canada is a country where they will not be able to freely practise their religion or obtain certain jobs.
Prior to the vote, Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne circulated a document that read, "We are sending the world a message that our differences don't divide us, they unite us. No matter what symbols you wear or where you live, no matter what your gender, orientation or ability, there is only one Ontario."
More about monte kwinter mpp, quebec charter of values, freedom of expression, Freedom of religion, ontario premier kathleen wynne
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