Quebec legislature’s crucifix hangs over secularism debate

Source: The Globe and Mail


Heritage icon to some, inappropriate religious symbol to others, the crucifix in Quebec’s National Assembly is being thrust into the centre of the province’s roiling debate over faith and state secularism.

An opposition party is tabling a motion on Tuesday to discuss removing a crucifix that has hung over the Speaker’s chair in the legislature for 81 years, arguing the province cannot call itself a secular state while protecting a Roman Catholic symbol in the place where politicians pass laws.


Controversial new Quebec legislation, Bill 62, requires women to remove face veils to obtain public services; the stated purpose in the bill’s title is “to foster adherence to State religious neutrality.” Yet the legislation was debated and voted on inside a legislature dominated by a crucifix, which the new law will protect as a piece of Quebec’s religious cultural heritage.

“We’ve talked a lot about the clothes people wear,” said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, an MNA with Québec Solidaire, who is submitting the motion. “Now it’s time to talk about the apparent secular nature of the most important institution of Quebec democracy, the National Assembly.”

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