This morning, Québec’s human rights commission released a communiqué and a twenty-seven page legal analysis, setting out its concerns about the proposed Charter of Values.
The Commission, which has consistently upheld minority rights, rights of religious minorities, and equality rights over the last two decades, points out that Québec’s “values” of restricting religious rights are a “manifest” violation of Québec’s own Charter of human rights and freedoms.
The Commission’s opposition to the Charter is a welcome reply to pro-Charter of values advocates and columnists who insist that opponents are engaged in a Canada-versus-Quebec battle. In this morning’s La Presse, Pierre Foglia writes along these battle lines to relegate fundamental civil liberties and human rights issues to a campaign by Canada against Quebec.
Notable in the Commission’s reaction to the proposed charter is:
- the failure of the proposed policy position to accommodate religious minorities, or to even attempt to do so with regard to the wearing of religious symbols
- a little-discussed but serious worry that the restriction of reasonable accommodation will impact not only religious minorities but other groups who benefit from legal protection from discrimination through reasonable accommodation, including people with disabilities- the confusion between the neutrality of the state and the neutrality of state employees.
- the implications for respect for international law obligations
The Commission also clarifies that equality between men and women has been guaranteed since 1975 in Quebec.