Debate on Legacy’s Bill 21 on secularism skidded Friday at a press conference announcing a demonstration against the bill on April 14.
Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg said Bill 21 represents a form of “ethnic cleansing” by legislation.
His statement caught the half-dozen elected officials and their representatives from municipalities on the West Island of Montreal, the provincial government and the federal government, who distanced themselves immediately.
Mayor Steinberg said that “a secular society does not impose one religion on top of another,” adding that Bill 21 is “an attempt to do just that”.
“The result will be that Jews, Muslims and Sikhs will not come to a place where their job prospects will be limited. Those who live here already will tend to leave, “he continued.
He completed his reasoning by arguing that this bill “is an attempt to remove those who practice minority religions, leaving only non-believers and Christians in Quebec. It’s ethnic cleansing – not with a rifle, but with a law. It’s racist and it’s ignoble. ”
With him, Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, Cote-Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Montreal West Mayor Beny Masella, Snowdon Councilor Marvin Rotrand, and a representative of D’Arcy-McGee’s provincial Liberal MP David Birnbaum struggled to hide their unease when Mayor Steinberg threw the pavement into the pond.
None of them wanted to endorse such comments or even comment on them.
Anthony Housefather argued that the purpose of the protest was to get the bill to be withdrawn, amended or defeated.
“No child should be denied the right to believe that he can hold any job and this law denies that,” said the MP, adding that the addition of the waiver provision to kill in the bud any litigation was unjustified.
“Using the notwithstanding clause before the law is put to the test of the courts makes it even more unfair,” said Housefather.
” Not acceptable “
Faced with these remarks in the following minutes, the Minister of Immigration and sponsor of the draft law on secularism, Simon Jolin-Barrette, first sought to justify the content of the legislation, but he had to resign himself to comment on them when in a hurry to do it.
“Charges like this one have no place. I invite the Mayor (Steinberg) to express his difference of opinion respecting the views of all Quebecois. That being said, comments like these are not acceptable in a debate like we will have in the coming weeks, “he said.
He took the opportunity to launch a call to debate in a serene atmosphere.
“I call for calm and serenity. We are able in Quebec to debate an important issue like this one with respect for everyone, “he said, adding that” accusations like this have no place “.
He promised, for his part, to do the same.
“I will always behave, during the debate on Bill 21, because of the sensitivity of the issues, with a calm and serene tone because Quebeckers do not wish to be torn apart. We want to gather and we want to turn the page on the issue of secularism and the record of the wearing of religious symbols. ”