“Secular State; Free Individuals”
This fall, Prof. Fournier spent much time in radio stations and published several opinion letters criticizing the “Charter of Quebec Values”, a document put forward by the Quebec government which proposes inter alia the legislative ban of “ostentatious” religious symbols among all provincial public employees, including health care and education workers.
In many media forums, Prof. Fournier has brought her legal expertise to bear on this issue, arguing that the means chosen to reach the government’s purported objectives of religious neutrality and secularism are inappropriate. Indeed, it seems very likely that, instead of contributing to the neutrality of the public service, the proposed ban will have the effect of driving religious minorities away from Quebec institutions and society. For a given piece of legislation to be constitutionally valid, it must further a pressing and substantial objective and be tailored to impose a minimal burden on protected rights and freedoms, a requirement that Prof. Fournier argues has not even been addressed, let alone met, by the Quebec government’s proposal.
Prof. Fournier spoke about the project in prime time radio programs on Radio-Canada, with Montreal host Jacques Beauchamp (click here for the interview) and Toronto host Caroline Bourdua (click here for the interview). She signed a “Manifesto for an Inclusive Quebec”, as well as collective op-eds published in the Huffington Post Quebec, Le Journal de Québec, Le Journal de Montréal, Le Droit and Le Soleil questioning the constitutional validity of the government’s project. She has also been interviewed for La Presse and Radio-Canada articles, as well as for a radio program on CPAM, Montreal’s Haitian radio station.
On September 16th, she produced another contribution, in the form of an open letter to Premier Pauline Marois, published in La Presse. In that letter, Prof Fournier provided a vivid account of the potential consequences of the project on the human lives it affects.
Photo taken in Montreal on September 29, 2013 at a demonstration against the Charter of Quebec Values co-organized by Professor Fournier