The Bouchard-Taylor report on the accomodation of immigrants has recommended that Quebec be neutral as regards religion i.e. a secular state.
To that end judges, Crown prosecutors, police officers and prison guards should be banned from wearing religious signs or symbols, but teachers, public servants and health professionals should be allowed to do so.
Most controversially, the Commission recommended that the crucifix be removed from the walls of the National Assembly to reassure religious minorities of the secularity of the legislature. The crucifix was first placed over the speaker’s chair when Maurice Duplessis was premier in 1936.
Bouchard and Taylor argue the crucifix has to go because, they say, it associates the state “with a single religious affiliation rather than addressing themselves to all citizens.” But the Globe and mail says this morning: “Wouldn’t its removal tell Quebec’s Catholic majority that they have to give up something they hold dear because of the newcomers? And how would that contribute to social harmony?”
Premier Charest stepped up immediately to shoot down any banning of the crucifix: “The crucifix is about 350 years of history in Quebec that none of us are ever going to erase and of a very strong presence, in particular, of the Catholic church, and that’s our reality.” The other parties in the National Assembly backed the premier on his refusal to remove the crucifix.
Charest’s opposition to banning the crucfix did not sit well with the MOntreal Gazette: “The suggestion to move the crucifix was hardly one of the report’s most important rcommendations, but it gives critics an easy symbol to focus on. Charest’s motion [retaining the crucifix] seems to play to the very fears and forces he was trying to restrain when he commissioned the report in the first place.”
Do you think the crucifix should be removed from the National Assembly? Does it favour one religion?
Or should the crucifix be retained, if not as a religious, at least as a cultural symbol?