Bill 21 divides Quebecers

Law 21 divides Quebecers


A major survey conducted by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies on the effects of Bill 21 should make us think.

Since François Legault presented this law, Quebecers are divided as to its necessity, even its validity.

It embodies the expression of a desire to ensure the religious neutrality of the State for some and an unjustified restriction on freedom of religion for others.

It is a fact that, even if there are similar laws in certain European countries, Quebec is the only jurisdiction in North America to codify discrimination in this way.

There is just here that adherents of minority religions are barred from certain key jobs if they openly demonstrate their adherence through outward signs.

The list is longer, but includes police officers, prosecutors and guards prison, as recommended by the Bouchard-Taylor report.

Moreover, the CAQ insisted on including teachers in its law, thereby adding a layer to what Bouchard and Taylor had believed to be tolerable in a society that respected the rights of minorities.

Or , the Léger survey clearly shows that this question is far from being resolved.

More open attitude of young people

One of the striking elements, in reading this report, is the chasm that separates young people from their elders.

This is a profound difference, which I have been able to observe during my work at the University of Montreal, over the past four years.

Where a majority of older men support the restrictions of Bill 21, young people, especially women aged 18 to 24, oppose it by a large majority.

This statistic is interesting because it tends to show more tolerance on the part of those who have evolved in a society more open to diversity.

Conversely, those who have never known other religions are the most likely to carry these prejudices within them .

Effects of discrimination

The study also clearly demonstrates that Muslims in general and Muslim women in particular feel the effects of this discrimination in their daily lives.

The study even decodes a hierarchy of discrimination: practicing Muslims and Sikhs are those whose religious symbols are the least tolerated.

A high proportion of them say they have witnessed or been victims of discriminatory acts and feel fearful.

This part of the study is alarming and saddens us to read it.

I spoke with a woman who had had her headscarf pulled by young people on the bus and who told her: “you no longer have the right”…

When we attack to rights, sometimes the subtleties take over.

The message received by some is that it is tolerable to be intolerant, and something essential is then lost in our society.

Electoral question

François Legault has been claiming for ages that a vast majority of the population supports Bill 21.

This important study shows that there are many more opponents than the CAQ seems to believe.

The upcoming election campaign will no doubt include debates on this essential subject that continues to divide.

Bill 21 divides Quebecers