July/August 2008 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Quebec’s National Assembly has unanimously adopted a motion to retain the crucifix behind the speaker’s chair, despite a recommendation from a diversity report.

The report, which was prepared by McGill University philosopher Charles Taylor and Universite du Quebec sociologist Gerard Bouchard, provided results from a study on a variety of subjects, including secularism in the Canadian province’s public places.

The report stated that the crucifix does not have a place in the National Assembly of a secular government. Premier Jean Charest, however, proposed a motion to preserve the National Assembly’s crucifix before Bouchard and Taylor even presented their report, and it was adopted unanimously. The motion affirms Quebec’s attachment to its “religious and historic heritage.”

Politics and the “fragile state of Quebec’s minority government,” will likely mean the study’s recommendations will not be taken seriously, Jack Jedwab of the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies told The Star.

The report’s other proposals include forbidding public officials such as judges and police officers from wearing religious symbols, and shelving pre-session prayer at municipal councils. Teachers and other state employees whose duties are less identified with the government should be permitted to wear religious markers such as hijabs, kipas or crucifixes, the study said.