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Quebec trying to speed up process to adopt secularism bill ahead of summer break

Last Updated Jun 12, 2019 at 1:31 pm MDT

Quebec Premier Francois Legault responds to the Opposition, Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says his government is showing good faith by specifying what kinds of religious symbols it plans to ban for many public sector workers.

The government tabled an amendment to its secularism bill late Tuesday in hopes of assuaging the opposition and ensuring adoption of the proposed law before the legislature’s scheduled summer break.

Quebec’s 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. The original draft of the bill didn’t define religious symbols.

The amendment states that symbols, jewelry, ornaments, accessories or headgear that are worn with a religious conviction or belief will be banned for those in positions of authority. The objects will also be banned if it can be reasonably inferred they are worn in relation to a religious affiliation.

Legault today accused the Opposition Liberals of slowing down the legislative process to protest the bill. The premier says the amendment is a response to Liberal criticism that the legislation was unclear about what symbols would be banned.

Legault’s government is running out of time to pass Bill 21 before the legislature is scheduled to break for the summer on Friday. The government could extend the session or invoke closure to force the adoption of the bill.

The Canadian Press