STATEMENT - Denying the rights of one group of people puts everyone’s rights at risk

March 29, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Following yesterday’s tabling of Quebec’s Bill 21, entitled “An Act respecting the laicity of the State,” Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

“The Canadian Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned by Quebec’s announcement this week that it will seek to ban religious symbols for all provincial public servants in roles such as, police officers, judges, teachers and senior officials.

“Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are enshrined in Canada’s constitution and our federal and provincial human rights laws. These freedoms extend to the way in which people choose to dress. These rights are also protected by several international human rights treaties. Ultimately, these rights and freedoms are the foundation of Canada’s free and democratic society. Denying the rights of one group of people puts everyone’s rights at risk.  

“Quebec’s proposed law runs counter to the fundamental principles of equality, dignity and respect. The law seeks to target people for their religious beliefs. It would create barriers, would limit people’s opportunities and their ability to fully participate in society. This legislation not only fails to strike a reasonable balance between the public interest and individual rights, but serves to entrench and legitimize religious and racial intolerance.

“Laws should seek to end discrimination — not promote it.”

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