Religious symbols: West Island borough mayor calls out the CAQ

A West island borough mayor says he won’t bite his tongue any longer, about the CAQ's religious neutrality proposals.

“My conscience didn't allow me to stay silent,” said Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis.

He took to Facebook on Tuesday morning, calling the CAQ's concept of neutrality a Trojan horse for exclusion and division.

“It seems that we will possibly be targeting a segment of the population that is already potentially ostracized, (and force them) to choose between the way they identify themselves and their careers,” he said in an interview with CJAD 800’s Leslie Roberts.

The CAQ religious neutrality proposals include a ban on the wearing of overt religious symbols in public sector workplaces. The law would in effect ban judges, police officers, prison guards, and teachers from wearing hijabs, kippahs, and turbans.

“We have so many issues that are pressing in our communities,” Beis said. “Is this really the focus of where we need to be at this time?”

Despite an overwhelming CAQ victory at the polls last week, he still doesn’t believe the issue is a priority for Quebecers.

“I don't know if this is really the population's will,” he said. “I can tell you, we're all Quebecers in my community and that's not what we're hearing.”

 In his original statement, Beis pledged to continue working to “build bridges” and “remove the fear of the other.”

"If anything, what we need is dialogue,” he told Leslie Roberts. “We need to ask the folks that will be affected by all of these proposals: What is the impact to their day to day lives."

Reaction to the post has been mixed. Many of his constituents applauded his statement, but others have not been happy with his stance.

"You can't even imagine the types of emails and comments that I'm getting that are quite troubling,” he said.

Some commenters went so far as to demand he resign from the borough office.