CAMWL is pleased to announce the launch of our new website. Please update your bookmarks and links to camwl.ca. We will no longer be updating this website. For more information, please contact us at email@example.com.
On March 15, 2015 the Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law (CAMWL) made its written submissions to the Law Society of Upper Canada, in response to the Law Society’s consultation paper, “Developing Strategies for Change: Addressing Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees.”
For Immediate Release (Toronto ON, Mar 16, 2015):
The Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law (CAMWL) stands in solidarity with Rania El-Alloul, a Muslim woman who was denied her day in court simply because she wears a headscarf.
On February 24, 2015, Ms. El-Alloul appeared before Judge Eliana Marengo seeking the return of her impounded car (Ms. El-Alloul had not been driving the car when it was impounded). Judge Marengo began the proceedings by asking Ms. El-Alloul why she was wearing a headscarf. Ms. El-Alloul explained that as a Muslim, she had been wearing headscarves for years, including when she swore her Oath of Allegiance to Canada. Judge Marengo responded, “I will not hear you.” She stated Ms. El-Alloul’s hijab was inappropriate attire for a court proceeding.
Ms. El-Alloul declined to unveil. Judge Marengo told Ms. El-Alloul she could either remove her headscarf or ask for a postponement in order to consult a lawyer. Ms. El-Alloul explained she relies on social assistance and cannot afford a lawyer. Judge Marengo adjourned the case indefinitely.
Without a ruling, Ms. El-Alloul, a single mother of three, continues to wait for her car.
Suitable Attire and the Charter
Judge Marengo’s actions are a clear violation of Canadian law.
In refusing to hear Ms. El-Alloul’s case, Judge Marengo cited Article 13 of the Regulations of the Court of Québec, which provides:
Any person appearing before the court must be suitably dressed.
Judge Marengo stated that Ms. El-Alloul’s hijab, because it is a religious symbol, was not suitable attire for a secular courtroom. Her underlying analysis appears to have conflated two unrelated issues: suitable attire (as captured by Article 13) and courtroom secularity.
What Judge Marengo’s analysis fails to appreciate is that both arguments for prohibiting the hijab must still abide by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
While Article 13 can properly be understood to be referring to professional attire, the Charter begins:
Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.
This attentiveness to “the supremacy of God” provides some groundwork to Section 2 of the Charter, which guarantees the right of freedom of religion, thought, belief, opinion and expression. As such, the Charter protects the right to hold and express one’s beliefs. Canadian courts routinely accommodate diverse religious and spiritual belief systems, for example by providing litigants with holy books and symbols (such as sacred eagle feathers) of choice with which to to make their oaths. This guarantee is subject only to demonstrably justified reasonable limits. To the rudimentary extent that it was articulated, Judge Marengo’s rationale for denying a hijab-wearing woman access to justice does not constitute a reasonable limit.
Section 15 of the Charter enshrines the right to equality, explicitly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion and sex. In refusing to hear Ms. El-Alloul’s case because she is a Muslim woman who wears hijab, Judge Marengo discriminated against Ms. El-Alloul on the basis of both her religion and her sex.
Section 27 of the Charter further provides that the Charter itself must be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians. This bears out the broader social goal of Sections 2 and 5: namely, the acknowledgement of and meaningful respect for Canada’s heterogeneity.
In short, the normative secularity of Canadian courts does not and cannot negate the fundamental Charter rights of litigants in Canada to wear, free of discrimination, religious symbols, including Sikh turbans, Jewish kippas, Christian nuns’ habits, or Muslim veils.
Suitable Attire in Canadian Courtrooms
Judge Marengo also overlooked clear Canadian case law.
By way of example, the Ontario Court of Appeal held in 1998 in R v Laws that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice had been wrong to exclude a Black Muslim man from the courtroom for wearing a religious hat. The OCA ruled that the original decision would incorrectly suggest only dominant religious communities are protected by the Charter.
In a landmark decision on freedom of religion, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed in 2004 in Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem that the legal test to determine whether or not a practice is protected as a religious freedom under the Charter is whether the practice is “sincerely held” by the subject, irrespective of whether the practice is required by official religious dogma or conforms with the position of religious officials.
Most recently in 2012, the Supreme Court considered the specific issue of the suitability of Muslim women’s veils, when it heard R v NS, in which a complainant in a sex-assault trial sought to wear a niqab while testifying. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin stated that:
A secular response that requires witnesses to park their religion at the courtroom door is inconsistent with the jurisprudence and Canadian tradition, and limits freedom of religion where no limit can be justified.
In light of these cases, Judge Marengo’s action stands out as an aberration squarely at odds with Canadian law.
A spokesperson for the Chief judge of the Quebec court told media that it is up to the judge to apply or interpret the law the way they see it.
While judges cannot be brought before human rights commissions, Ms. El-Alloul can file a complaint with the Conseil de la magistrature du Québec, which is mandated to examine complaints related to the conduct of judges. The council can issue a reprimand or recommend a judge’s removal.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims is assisting Ms. El-Alloul with exploring her complaint options.
A complaint has also been filed by Montreal resident Jean-Pierre Lussier, who does not know Ms. El-Alloul. Mr. Lussier noted in his complaint that Judge Marengo’s decision has been decried by many citizens, politicians and groups across Canada.
Ms. El-Alloul’s case resembles that of Tomee Sojourner, who filed a complaint to the Conseil de la justice administrative after Quebec Rental Board Judge Luce De Palma, despite repeated corrections, persistently referred to Ms. Sojourner as a man, eventually suspending the hearing. The council rejected Ms. Sojourner’s complaint of judicial bias and discriminatory conduct. In 2014, Quebec’s Superior Court held that both Judge De Palma and the Council had failed to acknowledge the intersectionality of Ms. Sojourner’s multifaceted identity as a Black lesbian woman and ordered the council to rehear Ms. Sojourner’s complaint. Ms. Sojourner’s case continues before the Administrative Judicial Council and the Superior Court.
Ms. Sojourner’s case marked the first time a Quebec court clearly addressed the legal notion of intersectionality (i.e. intersecting discrimination), a principle already recognised by the Supreme Court of Canada. CAMWL hopes that the council in Ms. El-Alloul’s case will be similarly attentive to the intersectional issues at play in Judge Marengo’s refusal to hear Ms. El-Alloul because of Ms. El-Alloul’s sex and religion.
There has been an outpouring of support from across the country and abroad for Ms. El-Alloul. Supporters (none of whom know Ms. El-Alloul) in Vancouver, Toronto, and California had independently set up two separate crowdfunding campaigns to cover the costs of a new car and legal expenses, respectively, with the former collecting $20,000 within a single day. Ms. El-Alloul recently stated that she would not accept the donations and would like to see them instead going towards “helping those whose rights have been forfeited and stories left untold.”
CAMWL is heartened by this show of support, especially given recent political and legal developments that have disproportionately targeted Muslims in Canada, such as the federal government’s comments about women who wear niqabs, Bill C-51, and a longstanding populist fascination with interrogating Muslim women’s sartorial choices. These reductive and often explicitly exclusionary views perpetuate misogyny and Islamophobia, inside and outside courtrooms.
Moreover, the access-to-justice implications of this story are gravely concerning: a single mother living in poverty turned to a Canadian court to ensure her mobility so that she could care for her children, and was roundly evicted from the legal arena. Judge Marengo’s decision to evict a low-income woman from her courtroom is one that furthers the feminisation of poverty in Canada, which the Supreme Court identified in 1992 as an “entrenched social phenomenon.” That Judge Marengo evicted a woman who is visibly Muslim also contributes to the racialisation of poverty in Canada. The intersection of these vulnerabilities is deeply concerning for all who are committed to ensuring fair and equitable access to justice and resources in Canada.
Ms. El-Alloul has asked, “I am going to the court for the law. But if the court didn’t listen to me, where will I go? What’s left?”
CAMWL stands with Ms. El-Alloul and her many supporters in calling on the judicial system to answer for Judge Marengo’s error. As we are a collective of Muslim women studying, practicing and teaching law in Canada, we are grateful for Ms. El-Alloul’s bravery and dignity in sharing her story, her discontents, and her strength with her peers. It has opened her up to a great deal of negative backlash. We stand with Ms. El-Alloul and marginalised people across Canada in working together to chart stronger and more meaningful visions of the law and of justice.
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- Amna Qureshi, “A hijab is perfectly suitable attire for a courtroom,” The Star (Mar 2, 2015)
- Carissima Mathen, “Judge in hijab ruling is the real face of judicial activism,” The Globe and Mail (Mar 4, 2015)
- David Butt, “Quebec judge who demanded hijab removal needs a Charter lesson,” The Globe and Mail (Feb 27, 2015)
- Graeme Hamilton, “Quebec woman says she felt ‘like an animal’ when judge lectured her about wearing hijab,” National Post (Feb 27, 2015)
Last updated Mon, Mar 16, 2015 at 1PM.
For Immediate Release (Toronto, ON, Feb 24, 2015): The Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law (CAMWL) is dismayed that the Conservative government will be appealing the Federal Court’s decision to strike down (effective immediately) the federal ban that prohibited citizenship candidates from wearing face coverings while taking their citizenship oaths. The Conservatives have stated that this ban is specifically meant to target Muslim women who wear niqabs. The ban and this appeal demonstrate a crass Conservative politic of capitalizing on anti-Muslim xenophobia to score populist support.
The ban was introduced in 2011 by Jason Kenney, then-Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, now Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism. Mr. Kenney, his successor, Christopher Alexander, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have sought to justify the ban by that claiming that niqabs – and, by association, the women who wear them – are “offensive.”
The ban was challenged in court in 2014 by Zunera Ishaq. Ms. Ishaq, a former high school teacher, had passed all the requirements of the citizenship process, including the citizenship test; however, she was prohibited from taking her citizenship oath, because she wears a niqab. The oath would have been the final step in Ms. Ishaq’s becoming a Canadian citizen.
The case was heard by Federal Court Justice Keith M. Boswell. On Feb 6, 2015, he held the ban was unlawful, because it violated the government’s own regulations, which require that citizenship judges administer the oath “with dignity and solemnity, allowing the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation thereof.” Justice Boswell held that the ban made this impossible, as it required certain candidates to “violate or renounce a basic tenet of their religion.” Here, he relied on internal Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) emails, in which one staffer, noting hand-written instructions from Mr. Kenney, stated: “the Minister would like this [ban] done, regardless of whether there is a legislative base and … he [Kenney] will use his prerogative to make policy change.”
Under the Citizenship Act, the only proof required of oath-taking is the candidate’s signature on their Oath of Citizenship form. Justice Boswell observed that “any requirement that a candidate for citizenship actually be seen taking the oath would make it impossible not just for a niqab-wearing woman to obtain citizenship, but also for a mute person or a silent monk.”
Mr. Alexander has stated that the Conservatives will be appealing the “court decision allowing people to wear the hijab while taking the oath.” This would suggest the Conservatives seek to expand the reach of the ban from the small handful of Muslim women in Canada who wear facial veils (niqabs) to the vastly greater number of Muslim women who wear headscarves (hijabs).
In the alternative, it may be that Mr. Alexander does not know the difference between hijabs and niqabs, even as he seeks to regulate them.
The hijab reference also recalls the Conservatives’ 2011 “oath reaffirmation” ceremony, staged for the now-defunct Sun TV, where one CIC bureaucrat posed in a hijab. The Conservatives failed to disclose to the public that none of the bureaucrats were actually new Canadians.
The Conservative government claims that its ban “protects women from violence.” Yet the government has put forward no evidence that women who wear niqabs, by virtue of wearing them, need protection from violence. The government has also failed to put forth evidence that banning niqab-wearing women from taking citizenship oaths would achieve their stated outcome.
Rather, the Federal Court noted: “If [Ms. Ishaq] is opposed to baring her face, then the [government] says that she should just accept the consequences of not becoming a citizen.” When structural and systemic violence against women is a real and pressing issue in Canada, the consequences of being denied citizenship – especially for women living in poverty and/or with precarious immigration status – include diminished access to essential social services and the heightened threat of deportation.
The Conservatives are using Ms. Ishaq’s immigration status to suggest they care about violence against women. Yet they have rejected calls for action into the crisis of thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, declaring that violence “not a priority.” The selectivity of these speaking points about women’s rights demonstrates the Conservatives’ opportunistic approach to gendered violence. Indeed, this double-speak is itself violent.
The government’s decision to appeal Justice Boswell’s ruling must also be situated against the broader affronts it has made to citizenship: Canadian citizenship is becoming harder to get and easier to lose. The Conservatives amended the Citizenship Act in 2014 to grant the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration unprecedented discretionary powers to revoke and deny citizenship, while making it harder for Canadians to appeal those decisions. The amendments specifically target dual nationals, naturalized Canadians, and the descendants of immigrants, thereby creating a two-tiered and arguably racialized system of citizenship.
CAMWL also notes that this appeal is occurring against the backdrop of Bill C-51, the so-called “anti-terror” bill, which would, among other things, chill free speech and dissolve privacy rights in the name of eradicating “extremist” views. Critics have already noted this bill’s disproportionate and arguably targeted impact on Indigenous communities, environmental activists, dissidents, and Muslims. Bill C-51’s binaristic approach to “mainstream” versus “extremist” values reflects a fixation with, among other things, policing Muslims’ diverse and often divergent religious, cultural, and political practices. The ban and this appeal demonstrate the government’s particular preoccupation with policing how Muslim women dress.
The Islamophobic hysteria that has helped sustain measures such as the “anti-terror” bill belies the arguments about discrimination the government made in Ms. Ishaq’s case. There, the government conceded that the niqab ban affects Muslim women in particular, but contended that that distinction was not discriminatory, claiming “there is no proof of any pre-existing disadvantage, stereotype or prejudice that is perpetuated by requiring [Ms. Ishaq] to show her face while she takes the citizenship oath.” Under this patchwork regime of repression and regression, citizenship is becoming an increasingly limited and an increasingly precarious privilege, one extended increasingly rarely to racialized people, including Muslim women.
CAMWL calls for a meaningful commitment to justice and equality. This ban provokes, exploits, and sustains hate and fear. Though it is specifically Muslim women who lie at the cross-hairs of this particular federal policy, CAMWL stands with diverse communities from across Canada in calling for an end to the government’s practice of fostering a political culture of precarity and exclusion through the demonization of marginalized and minority groups. This is not the first time that the federal government has sought to exclude racialized people from the nation, nor are Muslims the first group in Canada to be targeted by such exclusionary practices. These policies and this politic must not stand – not for Muslim women who wear niqab, and not for any other group targeted or collaterally affected by this government’s divisive tactics.
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Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law
- “Canadian Citizenship (Bill C-24),” Voices-Voix, 21 Nov 2014.
- Douglas Quan, “Zunera Ishaq on why she fought to wear a niqab during citizenship ceremony: ‘A personal attack on me and Muslim women’,” National Post, 16 Feb 2015.
- Ishaq v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2015 FC 156.
- Michael McClurg and Senwung Luk, “Bill C-51 Could Be a Blank Cheque to the Government to Stifle Indigenous Dissent,” Olthuis Townshend Kleer, 10 Feb 2015.
- “Support for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Their Families,” ItStartsWithUs.
The Steering Committee of the Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law (CAMWL) is very pleased to announce that it will be hosting a potluck dinner on the evening of Friday, December 12, 2014. The dinner will take place at the University of Toronto, OISE (map) in Room 7-162 at 6PM (come later if you are unable to make it at that time!).
This gathering will celebrate the finalization of CAMWL’s Constitution, which the Steering Committee has worked very hard to produce. The dinner will also be a great way to meet other CAMWL members, and to network with other Muslim women in the legal profession and field.
Please RSVP at http://camwl-winter-social.eventbrite.ca.
The Law Society of Upper Canada’s Lawyer Licensing Examination Rules and Protocol provide:
Prohibited personal items brought to the licensing examination will not be permitted in the Testing Area.
The Law Society of Upper Canada has designated the following items as prohibited in the Licensing Examination Testing Area: […]
vii. Hats, headgear or coats, scarves and gloves and religious attire of any kind unless provision has been made for any specific religious apparel. Hoodies are not allowed in the Testing Area [emphasis in the original].
On September 11, 2014, the Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law and the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association wrote to the LSUC regarding its de facto ban on religious attire during the examination process. You can read our letter here.
On September 25, the LSUC replied, stating it would be undertaking a review of its Rules. You can read its letter here.
On October 30, we sent the LSUC a follow-up letter asking about the nature of the review. We were joined in this letter by 21 ally organisations, including clinics, bar associations, student groups, and advocacy organisations. You can download our letter here, or read it below.
We look forward to continuing this conversation with the LSUC and our ally organisations. We thank everyone for their support in bringing this issue to the LSUC’s attention.
October 30, 2014
Dear Treasurer Minor:
Re: Prohibition of “Religious Attire” During Barrister and Solicitor Licensing Examinations
Thank you for your response to CAMWL’s inquiry about the Law Society’s de facto prohibition of “religious attire” during the Licensing Examinations. We appreciate that the Law Society will be reviewing its Examination Rules and Protocol in light of our inquiry.
We also thank you for the background and explanation about the Examination Rules and Protocol. We would note that although the Law Society’s accommodation of religious difference is helpful, a willingness to provide accommodation cannot pre-suppose the need to create different categories of applicants.
We are especially concerned that applicants should not bear additional burdens during the examination process simply because they may wear religious attire. This is particularly so in the absence of any evidence that religious attire poses a threat to the integrity of the examinations.
Accordingly, it is CAMWL’s respectful view that the de facto prohibition of religious attire is both unnecessary and unfair. As a result, CAMWL does not believe that the existence of accommodation should be the focus of this discussion. Rather, the focus must be on ensuring the open and equitable access of all applicants to entrance into the legal profession.
As you know, our organization is allied with and comprised of members of other organizations, who are also directly negatively affected by the Examination Rules and Protocol. It is our respectful view that in order to remain accountable to the legal profession, the Law Society must provide members of these affected groups with a meaningful opportunity to participate in the review and rulemaking process. Please see below for the list of 21 organisations of and for lawyers and law students who join us in our request to you.
Please let us know how we can further contribute our unique expertise, insight, and information to the review process. We also ask to be advised of a timeline by which we can expect this review to be initiated. Once again, we are encouraged by the Law Society’s decision to review its Examination Rules and Protocol.
We look forward to hearing from you shortly regarding next steps.
Thank you for your attention.
Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law
Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association
- Equity Dept: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Racialised Licensees Working Group: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Equity Advisory Group: firstname.lastname@example.org
- A2J (University of Ottawa)
- Black Law Students Association of Canada
- Canadian Association of Black Lawyers
- Free Speech Society (Osgoode Hall Law School)
- Jewish Law Students’ Association at Osgoode Hall Law School
- Jewish Law Students’ Association at the University of Toronto
- Law Students’ Society of Ontario
- Law Union of Ontario
- Law Union at the University of Ottawa
- Law Union at the University of Toronto
- Law Union at the University of Windsor
- Muslim Law Students Association at Osgoode Hall Law School
- Muslim Law Students’ Association at the University of Ottawa
- Muslim Law Students Association at the University of Toronto
- National Muslim Law Students’ Association
- Osgoode Society Against Institutional Injustice
- South Asian Bar Association
- South Asian Law Students Association at the University of Toronto
- South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
- Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund
- Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund at the University of Ottawa
* le français suivra * scroll down for endorsements *
The Canadian Association of Muslim Women Lawyers (CAMWL) joins a chorus of voices from across the country and within Quebec in denouncing the Parti Québécois’ (PQ) proposed Quebec Charter of Values, which would prohibit public servants of minority faiths from wearing mandatory religious symbols at work. The proposed Charter is intolerant and unconstitutional, and any anticipated benefits are far outweighed by its devastating impact on religious minorities. In particular, the CAMWL is deeply concerned about the proposed Charter’s effects on Muslim women who wear hijab and/or niqab.
The proposed Charter discriminates against and will disproportionately affect minority religions in the province. Symbols like yarmulkes, turbans and hijabs are considered mandatory articles of faith to those who wear them. The proposed Charter bans these symbols, but spares the unmistakable cross on Mount Royal and the cross above Quebec’s Legislative Chamber. This is a clear violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically sections 2(a) and 15, which uphold the rights to religious freedom and equality, respectively. The proposed Charter also replicates the marginalization in Canada of pre-existing Indigenous faiths, many of which include traditions that, until recently, were also banned, even criminalised. The discriminatory effect of the proposed Charter is unjustifiable in a free and democratic society.
The CAMWL further notes that the proposed Charter’s targeting of minority faiths is an affront to the key principle that democracy is not simply rule of the majority over (vulnerable) minorities, but includes (when necessary) the fundamental protection of minorities from the majority. The proposed Charter marginalizes minority communities by presenting them as threats to Quebecois identity. It assumes that those perceived as members of religious minorities are not and can never be authentically Quebecois, and that they should not help shape the values of their home province.
The proposed Charter also damages the livelihoods of religious minority communities. By tying employment in the public sector to mode of dress, employees from minority faiths are less likely to be able to serve the public. Rather than welcoming these communities to contribute to and participate in all aspects of life in Quebec, the proposed Charter sends the message that they are not welcome in places as essential as courts, hospitals, and schools, among others.
We emphasize our concern that the proposed Charter will marginalize and disempower the many Muslim women working or interested in working in the public sector, by forcing them to choose between their livelihoods and their deeply held religious beliefs. The CAMWL supports the position that in this case, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects individuals from having to make such a decision.
The CAMWL reiterates that the proposed Charter is unconstitutional and intolerant, and that it will have a severe and disproportionately negative impact not only on public sector employees from minority faiths, but on attitudes towards diversity in general. Indeed, whether or not the proposed Charter passes constitutional muster, the damage has already been done: far from uniting the province, it has paved the way for open animosity since its proposal, including an attack on a mosque in Saguenay. We stand with other justice-seeking groups in asserting that a far better approach would be to embrace all individuals and their desire to participate as full and equal members of Quebec society by acknowledging their right to express their faith as an intrinsic part of their identity.
L’Association canadienne des femmes avocates musulmanes (L’ACFAM) se joint la foule des voix partout au Canada et à l’intérieur du Québec pour dénoncer les propositions de la Charte des valeurs Québécoises, proposée par le Parti Québécois (PQ), qui interdirait les fonctionnaires de confessions minoritaires de porter des signes religieux au travail. La Charte proposée est intolérante et inconstitutionnelle. Tous les bénéfices escomptés sont complètement dépasses par ses effets dévastateurs sur les minorités religieuses. En particulier, L’ACFAM est profondément préoccupée par les effets du projet de la Charte sur les femmes musulmanes qui portent le hijab et/ou le niqab.
La Charte proposée est discriminatoire et affecterait dans une façon disproportionnée les religions minoritaires. Les symboles comme les hijabs, turbans, kippas sont considérés des articles obligatoires de foi à ceux qui les portent. La Charte proposée interdit ces symboles mais épargne la croix unique sur le mont Royal, et la croix au-dessus de la Chambre législative du Québec. Il s’agit d’une violation flagrante de la Charte Canadienne des droits et libertés spécifiquement l’al. 2 a) et 15, qui soutient le droit à la liberté religieuse et l’égalité, respectivement. Le projet de la Charte réplique également la marginalisation au Canada des religions autochtones préexistantes, dont beaucoup de traditions jusqu’à récemment ont également été interdites, et meme criminalisé. L’effet discriminatoire de la Charte proposée n’est pas justifiable dans une société libre et démocratique.
De plus, L’ACFAM se constante que le projet de la Charte et le ciblage des religions minoritaires est un affront au principe clé que la démocratie n’est pas simplement une occasion où la majorité dirige la population minoritaire, mais il faut que la démocratie renforce la protection de base des minorités face à la majorité. La Charte proposée marginalise les communautés minoritaires en les présentant comme des menaces à l’identité québécoise. Il suppose que ceux qui sont perçus comme des membres des minorités religieuses ne sont pas et ne pourraient jamais être authentiquement québécois, et qu’ils ne devraient pas contribuer à développer les valeurs de leur province d’origine.
Le projet de la Charte se fait au détriment des moyens de subsistance des communautés religieuses minoritaires. En liant l’emploi dans le secteur public à la façon de s’habiller, les employés de confessions minoritaires seront moins à l’aise de trouver l’emploi dans le secteur public. Au lieu d’accueillir ces communautés à contribuer et à participer à tous les aspects de la vie au Québec, le projet de la Charte envoie le message qu’ils ne sont pas les bienvenus dans les lieux aussi essentiels que les tribunaux, les hôpitaux et les écoles, entre autres.
Nous soulignons notre préoccupation que le projet de la Charte marginalisera et déresponsabilisera les nombreuses femmes musulmanes qui travaille (et souhaitant travailler) dans le secteur public en les forçant à choisir entre leurs moyens de subsistance et leurs croyances religieuses profondément ancrées. L’ACFAM soutient la position que dans ce cas, la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés protège les individus de se confronter une telle décision.
L’ACFAM rappelle que la Charte proposée est inconstitutionnelle et intolérante, et que cela aura un impact sévère et négatif, et de manière disproportionné, non seulement sur les employés du secteur public de confessions minoritaires, mais sur les attitudes en concernant le multiculturalisme en général. En effet, même si on se trouve que le projet de la Charte est constitutionnellement valide, le préjudice aurait déjà été fait : loin d’unir la province, il a ouvert la voie à l’animosité ouverte depuis sa proposition, y compris une attaque contre une mosquée à Saguenay. Nous tenons à d’autres groupes de justice qui cherchent en affirmant que une bien meilleure approche serait d’embrasser tous les individus et leur désir de participer en tant que membres à part d’entière de la société québécoise en acceptant leur droit d’exprimer leur foi comme une partie intégrante de leur identité.
- West Coast LEAF
- Noor Cultural Centre (Samira Kanji, President)
- Tessellate Institute
- National Muslim Law Students’ Association of Canada
- Law Union of Ontario
- SAFAR: The Sikh Feminist Research Institute
- Canadian Muslim Lawyers’ Association
We are also supported in our position by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association; read their statement online.