Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Quebec Premier Francois Legault responds to a question during a news conference in Montreal, on Nov. 17, 2020.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Members of religious minority groups in Quebec are decrying the provincial government’s plan to allow Christmas-time gatherings in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling the move a sign of a double standard.

The condemnations came days after Premier Francois Legault offered Quebeckers what he dubbed a “moral contract” through an offer to raise gathering limits over a four-day period starting on Christmas Eve.

“It’s disappointing,” said Yusuf Faqiri, a representative of the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “The Muslim community, the Jewish community, the Sikh community, when we had our respective holidays, we were not able to gather.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Legault announced the terms of the Christmas reprieve on Thursday, saying groups of up to 10 could gather between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27. The short-term move marks a sharp reversal from rules currently in place in much of the province, where all indoor gatherings are banned in regions classified as red zones under the province’s pandemic response plan.

Mr. Faqiri said his objections to the move aren’t rooted solely in the pandemic. His organization is one of several that is currently challenging Quebec’s secularism law in court. That law bans some public servants, including teachers, from wearing religious symbols while working, on the grounds that the state must be religiously neutral.

He said it’s “a contradiction” to defend that bill while allowing Christmas gatherings.

“All Quebeckers, from all faith groups, from all respective traditions, we’re all proud participants in the society,” he said. “But in order for us to do that, we should all be treated the same and that’s where the fundamental issue lies.”

Rabbi Lisa Grushcow, of Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom in Montreal, said Jewish people have been left out.

“But we’ve been left out of something I wouldn’t want to be included in,” she quipped.

Ms. Grushcow said she’s worried that the allowance for gatherings will put vulnerable people and teachers at risk.

Story continues below advertisement

“I don’t know that the government’s following the science and the medical wisdom,” she said. “That’s the piece that worries me.”

She said she doesn’t want the government to allow people to gather for Hanukkah, noting that her congregation has already made it through more important Jewish holidays in the midst of the pandemic.

“We made it through Passover, we made it through Rosh Hashanah, we made it through Yom Kippur,” she said. “So if anything, I would hope that our experience can show that it’s possible to be creative and still be connected, even while keeping each other safe.”

Ms. Grushcow said there is an inconsistency when it comes to the Quebec government’s approach to secularism.

“You’re saying that you can rearrange the whole school calendar and put a society at risk so folks can celebrate Christmas, but you’re not going to let a teacher wear a hijab or a kippah,” she said. “It is a bit of a challenge.”

When asked about people who don’t celebrate Christmas at a press conference on Thursday evening, Mr. Legault said he believes allowing for gatherings around Christmas is what most Quebeckers want.

Story continues below advertisement

Other rabbis echoed Ms. Grushcow’s concerns.

“While we appreciate the intent of the Quebec government’s decision to accommodate families and allow them to gather for Christmas, it is unfortunate and disturbing that it does not apply to all faith communities,” Rabbi Reuben Poupko, the co-chair of Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs-Quebec and the rabbi of the Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation in Montreal, said in a statement. “The elevating of one faith community over another is inappropriate, and all faith communities should be treated in an equitable manner.”

At a technical briefing on Friday morning, public-health officials said they didn’t specifically choose to centre the moral contract around Christmas but selected the dates because they fell in the middle of the winter school break.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies