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Conservatives vow to challenge Quebec charter, should it pass

Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney comments on Quebec's Charter of Quebec Values Tuesday Sept. 10, 2013 in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The federal government is hoping the new Quebec charter of values will not make it through the province's minority legislature, while vowing to launch a legal challenge of the bill if it does become law.

Speaking in Toronto, Jason Kenney said his government believes that all Canadians "have an equal right to participate fully in the public life of our society." The minister for employment and multiculturalism added he is "concerned" by the proposed legislation, which would prevent Quebec government employees from wearing a veil, a turban or a kippa at work.

He said that he is comforted by the fact that a majority of MNAs in Quebec oppose the Parti Québécois' proposal, while vowing to carefully follow the situation.

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"We will be closely monitoring the outcome of this legislation," said Mr. Kenney. "If the bill as currently framed, seeking to ban certain Canadians from participation in public life, becomes law, we will closely analyze it. If it is found to violate our Constitution and our constitutionally protected freedom of religion, we will challenge it."

He said that there "is an expectation that newcomers should make an effort to integrate successfully into Canadian society," while adding that governments have "to be welcoming and to create equality of opportunity." Mr. Kenney added that it is reasonable, as proposed in the charter, to call on all citizens to "show their faces" during interactions with the government.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair will react to the bill just before Question Period in Ottawa Thursday afternoon, while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has no public event scheduled. Both opposition leaders have denounced the PQ proposal in the past.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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