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A new poll out from Léger shows that 46% of Canadians support Quebec’s Bill 21 banning religious symbols in the public sector while 42% are opposed to it.
The poll was conducted from April 18 to 22 and surveyed 1,522 Canadians across the country, including Quebeckers.
The question posed was “Are you in favour or opposed to banning the wearing of visible religious symbols for public sector employees in positions of authority (police officers, judges and primary and secondary school teachers) in your province?”
In Quebec, 66% of the respondents were “more in favour” or “totally in favour.” Only 25% were not. Across the rest of the country, excluding Alberta, the difference’s between those in favour and those opposed were fairly minimal.
In Ontario, 42% of respondents said they would support the ban while 47% said they would oppose it. In the Prairies, it was 41% for, 44% against. In British Columbia, the numbers were similar, with 41% in favour and 45% opposed. In Atlantic Canada, the gap was slightly larger, with 41% in support and 50% opposed.
The only province to show a substantially different result was Alberta, with only 34% in favour of the legislation compared to 53% opposed.
All three major federal party leaders have strongly criticized the bill.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has criticized the bill saying “Quebeckers, like all Canadians, are proud of living in a free and just society and I don’t think that a lot of people feel that in a free society, we should be legitimizing discrimination of our citizens based on religion.”
Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer also spoke out against the legislation saying “a society based on fundamental freedoms and openness must always protect fundamental individual rights and should not in any way impede people from expressing themselves and in any way infringing on those fundamental rights.”
Jagmeet Singh weighed in on the proposed law as well saying “This law that is being proposed is something that divides the population, that divides the province, instead of bringing people together. That, to me, is something that is saddening.”
While legislation similar to Bill 21 has been proposed four times in the recent past, it has failed to become law, twice dying on the order sheet and, most recently, failing because of a court injunction questioning the law’s constitutionality.
However this latest attempt to curb religious freedom by Premier Legault will at least be successful in the short term due to the fact that it invokes the not-withstanding clause, which allows the province to override the Charter for a five year period.
The bill is expected to become law by June 2019.