Bernard Drainville, minister responsible for democratic institutions and citizen participation, told a press conference in Quebec City that small religious symbols – like a Christian cross or a Star of David -- would not pose a problem. “Those don’t cause any difficulty,” Drainville said. He made clear, however, that hijabs, kippas, veils and turbans would be banned.
Drainville made clear that women will not be allowed to cover their faces for religious reasons when dealing with government. “The state has a right to know who it is addressing,” he said.
The crucifix in the provincial legislature will stay put. “The crucifix is there to stay in the name of our heritage,” Drainville said. He didn’t know, however, whether elected officials or courtroom witnesses could continue to swear on the Bible.
Drainville described an ostentatious religious symbol as anything “that sends a clear message – ‘I’m a believer, here’s my religion.’” Speaking later in English, Drainville used the word “conspicuous” to describe the symbols to be banned.
Drainville said the ban would apply across the public sector, including government departments, schools, publicly funded daycares, universities, police officers and judges. It’s important, he said, that the Quebec state show citizens that it is “religiously neutral.”
Drainville made clear that hijabs, kippas, veils and turbans would be banned.