Co-author of Quebec secularism report at odds with partner's change of heart


Published on February 17, 2017

MONTREAL — The co-author of a report on secularism in Quebec is sticking by his position that some provincial employees be prohibited from wearing religious symbols.

And Gerard Bouchard also says he doesn't agree with his former partner's change of heart.

Bouchard tells Montreal Le Devoir he finds Charles Taylor's new position "disappointing" and says not legislating a ban on religious signs for judges, police officers and prison guards won't reconcile the divisive issue in Quebec.

Taylor and Bouchard are influential voices in the province's long-standing secularism debate, having co-authored a 2008 report on the accommodation of religious minorities.

One of its recommendations stated that provincial workers who are in a coercive position such as judges and prison guards not be allowed to wear religious articles of clothing on the job.

Taylor, an award-winning McGill University philosopher, wrote an open letter this week stating the province shouldn't take any more steps that could further "stigmatize minorities" in the wake of a mosque shooting in Quebec City that left six men dead.

Bouchard, a sociologist and historian, suggests Taylor's new position will have the opposite effect and plunge the province into another acrimonious debate over reasonable accommodation.

The Canadian Press