Barry Bussey, general counsel for the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, takes a sobering look at the new “Charter of Quebec Values” which will affect the ability of public employees to wear religious symbols or garb in the workplace. The rules, expected to affect everybody from school teachers and daycare workers to government workers, will make it difficult for minority religious groups to maintain government jobs while following their sincerely held religious beliefs.
According to Bussey,
The government of Quebec has now firmly entered the field of religion and its expression. It claims neutrality but its actions belie that claim. Rather, the government has taken the role of arbiter of what will be acceptable and unacceptable religious expression in society. Though, in its current form, the charter is limited to regulating the religious expression of government employees there can be little doubt that given time, considering the inflationary nature of state bureaucracy to expand its influence in citizen’s private lives, this policy of “neutrality” will move further toward the private sector employees. I can imagine that the justification will be along the lines that private sector employees must also be free from religious garb because while they are not employed by the state their work is nevertheless regulated by the state. They are in the “public” sphere – which must be “neutral.” So expect increased pressure on church run nursing homes or private schools. Private schools often give state accredited diplomas. Therefore, as the logic would flow, they ought to be subject to government regulation in such matters as religious expression.”