The Quebec government has recently announced that the lockdown restrictions, which have been in place since roughly October and have only been getting stricter, will temporarily be lifted from December 24th to December 27th, as gatherings up to 10 people will be allowed*.
It is no coincidence that Christmas Day just happens to be on December 25th (“Noël, cette année, ça tombe le 25 Décembre,” as Legault so eloquently put it), and Christmas Eve, which French Canadians, in particular, are known to celebrate, the 24th. Hanukkah, this year, begins December 10th and ends December 18th, but there will be no accommodations for that holiday.
Bill 21, which was passed by Quebec’s National Assembly on June 16th, 2019, supposedly aims to “provide” laicity, which “is based on four principles: the separation of state and religions, religious neutrality of the state, equality of all citizens, and freedom of conscience and religion,” according to the online Library of Congress.
By forbidding all government employees from wearing religious symbols while working, this bill aims to prevent any religious bias from affecting governmental decision-making. However, religious bias seems to have influenced the government’s decision to lift crucial lockdown restrictions, going against the principle of “religious neutrality of the state”.
Also, doesn’t banning religious symbols go against the principle of “freedom of conscience and religion”? It could also be argued that it goes against the principle of “equality of all citizens” since it disproportionally affects non-Christians; by contrast, Christians apparently do not even need to be wearing religious symbols to let their religion affect their decisions, as we have seen with Legault’s Christmas Covid Exception.
In other news, on November 2nd, 2020, the civil court case against Bill 21 began trial at the Quebec Superior Court. Its aim is to prove that this law is unconstitutional and to have it immediately suspended.
Hearings have been happening daily at 9:30am in room 17.09 of the courthouse located at 1 Notre Dame Street East. There is one entrance for lawyers and one on St-Antoine for anyone else who wishes to attend.
By Sophie Dufresne
*Legault has since backtracked on this decision, acknowledging that Quebec will likely not “succeed in reducing the progression of the virus in a satisfactory way by Christmas.” However, the fact that he continues to base his decisions around the Christian holiday is proof that he DOES have a religious bias, as this article aims to prove, making it still relevant.