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PQ’s Charter of Values Unnecessary & Discriminatory: World Sikh Organization of Canada

September 11, 2013 | By

Ottawa, Canada (September 10, 2013): The World Sikh Organization of Canada is disappointed by the Parti Quebecois’ announcement today of its “Charter of Quebec Values.”

World Sikh Organization of Canada

The PQ Minister in charge of the charter, Bernard Drainville announced today that the wearing of “overt” religious symbols would be banned for civil servants on the job. While turbans, kippas and hijabs would be banned, small crucifixes or other religious jewelry would continue to be permitted.

Drainville also announced that some institutions and organization may be able to opt out of the ban for a five year period.

The proposed charter would affect members of the Sikh community who wear turbans. The turbans are an essential article of faith worn by observant Sikhs representing spirituality and also reinforcing the equality of men and women. Sikh men and women both cover their heads as a part of their faith.

WSO Vice President for Quebec Mukhbir Singh said in reaction to today’s announcement, “the PQ’s charter is a distraction from the real issues facing Quebec. Rather than focussing on employment, health care and social services, the PQ is cynically targeting minorities. Sikhs have lived in Quebec for decades and have contributed to Quebecois society as physicians, teachers, professors, etc. What this proposal is doing is creating an atmosphere of intolerance in Quebec which will negatively affect Sikhs in Quebec as well as all minority groups.”

WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said, “while we all agree that religious neutrality is essential and that everyone must be treated equally, this charter puts people practicing their faith at a severe disadvantage. The ‘opt-out’ being offered by the PQ doesn’t make this charter any more acceptable as it puts minorities in the unacceptable position of having to go to different government institutions and organizations to plead to be allowed to work. If it becomes law, this charter will create two-tiered citizenship where people who practice their faith will be discriminated against by the state. That would be an unacceptable violation of Quebecois and Canadian human rights law.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

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