Quebec’s attempt to track how many teachers wear religious symbols violates rights and freedoms: FAE

The Fédération autonome de l’Enseignement (FAE) has filed a legal challenge against the provincial government over its attempts to track the number of teachers that wear religious symbols on the job.

The federation is one of the largest in Quebec, representing nine unions and about 43,000 teachers in the province.

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It argues the government’s tactics to force schools to provide information on religious symbols worn by their employees are unconstitutional, go against Quebec’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and should never happen again.

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On Jan. 25, three school boards say they received phone calls from Deputy Minister of Education Sylvie Barcelo asking if they had statistics on how many employees wore religious symbols.

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Then, on Feb. 5, the FAE said it learned that 2,616 school principals received a survey in June 2018 from the department of education.

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One of the questions they were asked: How many people wear visible religious symbols?

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The federation states 1,164 principals responded to the survey, something FAE president Sylvain Mallette believes lacked “judgment.”

“The operation orchestrated by the Quebec government, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, contradicts both Canada and Quebec’s charters of rights and freedoms,” he said.

After legal experts analyzed the situation, the FAE said it will file an appeal to defend its members’ rights and freedoms.

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Mallette insisted the goal is not to block the tabling of the bill on secularism — which is expected to happen as early as Thursday — but make sure that its members are being respected.

If passed, the ban on religious symbols would affect public employees in positions of authority, including police, judges and teachers.

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