TORONTO — A motion introduced by a Jewish legislator in Ontario to reaffirm the Canadian province’s commitment to religious freedom passed unanimously.
Monte Kwinter, a veteran Liberal member of the Provincial Parliament, introduced the motion as a direct response to a Quebec proposal that would ban religious symbols in the workplace. The Ontario motion passed on Sept. 19.
Speaking of potential immigrants to Canada, Kwinter told the Globe and Mail, “When they hear that one province is doing something, they assume that Canada is doing it and it creates a negative image.
“People are saying is that going to happen in Ontario? And all we’re trying to do is reassure them that we would not support anything that would in any way put our ethnic communities, our cultural communities at risk in the way they’re being put at risk in Quebec.”
The Quebec proposal includes a ban on religious headwear — including yarmulkes, hijabs and turbans, as well as visible crucifixes — by public and quasi-public employees. Critics say the plan is xenophobic and racist.
The Ontario motion said the province “should oppose any legislation that would restrict or prohibit people’s freedom of expression and religion in public places and affirms that Ontario greatly values our diverse population and the social, cultural and economic contributions they make to help our society thrive.”
Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak said governments have no right to dictate to people how and when they can express their religious beliefs.