Loading articles...

Montreal mayor, opposition leader unite to denounce Quebec's secularism bill

Montreal mayor Valerie Plante responds to a question as opposition leader Lionel Perez looks on during a news conference in Montreal on Monday, April 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL — Elected officials at Montreal’s city hall are speaking with one voice against Quebec’s proposed secularism bill.

Mayor Valerie Plante and opposition leader Lionel Perez presented a bipartisan declaration today saying Montreal practises open secularism and its bylaws are neutral, regardless of the religious convictions of those who make them.

Plante told a news conference the history of Montreal has been marked by waves of immigration that continue to shape the city. She said the city is open and inclusive and has taken great pride in building this reputation.

Perez added that the joint message sends a signal to the provincial government that Bill 21 doesn’t reflect Montreal and Quebec values.

Bill 21 would prohibit public servants in positions of authority — including teachers, police officers, Crown prosecutors and prison guards — from wearing religious symbols on the job. A grandfather clause protects people already hired in those positions.

Plante was critical of the Coalition Avenir Quebec government’s use of the notwithstanding clause to override potential charter challenges, saying it only serves to short circuit debate.

The Canadian Press