Worry among Quebec Jews over a proposed bill to ban public sector workers from wearing religious attire at work increased over comments made by a ruling party candidate in the province.
In a Facebook exchange made public this week, Parti Quebecois candidate Tania Longpré called for an end to circumcision and for “Jewish” to be removed from name of Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, a government-funded institution that would be affected by the proposed Quebec Values Charter.
Jewish groups and other religious minorities in the province are worried about the proposed Charter, which was tabled in parliament Nov. 7 following weeks of debate. The Charter has been criticized for banning public sector workers from wearing kippahs, headscarves or turbans but allowing small Catholic symbols to be worn in the form of jewelry.
Bernard Drainville, the Parti Quebecois minister for democratic institutions and the man behind the proposed charter, said Longpré’s views are not reflective of the party or government.
“Before being a candidate she was a citizen, an individual who had freedom of speech. Now she’s a PQ candidate and she must endorse, as I think she did, the policies and positions that were taken by the PQ government so far,”
Drainville said on Tuesday according to CTV News.
Longprè made the comments two years ago when she was a blogger for Journal de Montreal. Her comments, which were leaked to a Quebec City newspaper, also included disparaging remarks about Parti Quebecois leader and provincial premier Pauline Marois.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs has asked Drainville to call Longprè to order.
Longprè told a Quebec radio station that her comments of two years ago do not reflect her current views.
“It’s what I thought two years ago but I think we can all evolve,” she said according to the Montreal Gazette. “Yes I regret having written this. I regret having thought this. Do I think this today? No.”
Longprè also wrote that hospital doctors and staff should be prohibited from having Hasidic sidecurls.