Toronto council backs fight against Quebec’s Bill 21, calling it ‘contrary to the values of Torontonians and Canadians’
By Kevin Trenne
25 May 2019
The fight over Bill 21 in Quebec is being waged on the basis of a lie. The Quebec government, led by Premier François Legault, has claimed that the proposed law would prevent religious symbols from being burned in public on August long weekend, thus protecting a “culture of expression” against what it claims is the “cultural invasion” of Quebec culture by Muslims.
The legislation is an effort to ban the wearing of the hijab on public school grounds, in the name of protecting Quebec’s cultural diversity. The government also intends to ban the wearing of the niqab, a full-body covering that some Muslim women, who consider it a religious precept, choose to wear.
The Quebec government says the bill would make the wearing of the hijab and niqab illegal, and that it wants to “prohibit discrimination” against Muslims by making them illegal in the “best interest” of Quebecers.
According to figures provided by the Quebec government, there was a sharp rise in the number of people stopped in the last decade from wearing the hijab in public schools. A survey by the CROPP and the Société de l’assurance-ville de Québec (SAVQ) shows a “massive increase” in the number of parents who reported that the wearing of the hijab in public had become an “unacceptable act.”
Over the past decade, Muslim women in Quebec have been the targets of a highly visible campaign of harassment, beginning with the wearing of the hijab.
In the spring of 2015, the then-minister of education, André Pratte, launched a series of hearings into the “cultural invasion” of Islam in Quebec, arguing that Muslim women were being threatened with forced sexual advances by women wearing the hijab, and that men who refused to wear it were being denied jobs in French-language schools.
To protect its cultural diversity, the government demanded the banning of halal foods, burqas, niqabs, hijabs