CAQ's Bill 21 is clear discrimination: Charles Taylor

You can add another big name to the list of those opposed to the CAQ government's secularism bill: one of the men who wrote the report on reasonable accommodation.

Charles Taylor, co-authored 2008's Bouchard-Taylor Commission, called the proposed ban on religious symbols for new public sector employees clear discrimination and unreasonable restriction.

Taylor made the comments during a panel discussion "Religious Symbols - how do we move forward?" organized by the McGill Muslim Law Students' Association Tuesday. 

The Bouchard-Taylor Commission's findings have been used by several governments, including the current CAQ, as a way of justifying legislation that would ban civil servants from wearing religious symbols. However in 2017, following the Quebec City mosque shootings, Taylor had a change of heart saying that the entire report was a mistake and called on governments to resist any legislation that could create further divisions.

Now Taylor believes the CAQs law is not only unjust and against basic principles, but it promotes suspicion, hatred or a sense of danger around certain minority religious groups. He added that the world has changed in the 11 years since he was involved in Commission and with Islamophobia on the rise, for a government to adopt this type of legislation, it would promote the idea that there that is something problematic with the minority group.

He told the group that if the government continues to move forward with the legislation it will be up to all Quebecers to fight in solidarity.

"The vow is this: If they come against your rights, I'm in the front line. And if they come against my rights, you're in the front line," Taylor said. 

He added with this bill he feels ashamed as a long time Quebecer.

"If this law passes we'll be the only jurisdiction in North America - despite all of the hate and rhetoric every else, despite Trump's Muslim travel ban - to do something this extreme."

Along with Taylor, the Religious Symbols panel included Catherine McKenzie, lawyer involved in the legal challenge of the previous Liberal government's secularism law (Bill 62) and Nadia Naqvi, a public high school teacher who wears a hijab.