On June 16, the Quebec government passed Bill 21, reprehensible legislation that prohibits provincial public servants, including police officers, judges and public-school teachers, from wearing religious symbols at their places of employment.
This prohibition violates fundamental values all Canadians hold dear. Like many Canadians, my parents immigrated to seek a better life in Canada, a country they believed strived to treat everyone with dignity and respect, regardless of religious belief.
I was raised to believe that everyone must have the opportunity to go as far in life as their talents and commitment will take them. Nobody in this country should be denied a job because they choose to wear a hijab, turban or kippah. That’s not the Canada I grew up in and it’s not the Canada I want my daughters to grow up in.
That’s why last week I was pleased to see Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister take a strong stand on this matter and criticize this discriminatory legislation. Premier, it’s time for you to do the same.
But as Premier of Canada’s most diverse province, you must do more than just speak out.
You must take decisive action to protect the human rights of observant Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and all other religious minorities impacted by Bill 21 in Quebec, as well as those here in Ontario who continue to face workplace discrimination.
I ask you to take the following five steps immediately:
1) As Premier Pallister has done, take a clear public stand outlining your objection to Bill 21;
2) Instruct Ontario’s Attorney General to provide financial and logistical support to the recent Superior Court challenge filed by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and National Council of Canadian Muslims;
3) Recall Ontario’s legislature immediately to pass a motion condemning Bill 21;
4) Stop meeting with those who wish to abolish Ontario’s Human Rights Commission, like Jordan Peterson, and instead commit immediately to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to explicitly protect every Ontarians right to wear clothing or other personal effects they believe to be religiously mandated;
5) Immediately increase funding to eliminate the staff shortages at the Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre, an organization which was created by the previous government to offer human rights legal services to individuals who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario's Human Rights Code.
Serving as Premier of Ontario requires bold leadership. I’m asking that you immediately show Ontario and Canada’s religious minorities that your government won’t stand for legislated discrimination.
It’s what Ontarians expect.
Steven Del Duca
Ontario Liberal Party Leadership Candidate