Pro-charter demo draws several hundred of supporters
MONTREAL - A rally and march in favour of Quebec's charter of values drew hundreds of supporters in Montreal Sunday afternoon calling for state neutrality and urging that religion be left at home.
They gathered in a Montreal square and marched to voice their support for the Parti Quebecois' controversial secular plan for public sector employees.
The PQ government formally announced its plan earlier this month, one that would prohibit state employees from wearing overt religious symbols. That would include everyone from judges and police officers to daycare and health care workers and school teachers.
Polls commissioned in recent weeks have suggested a deep divide among Quebecers over the controversial charter.
They have also suggested that support for it has been dropping.
But those gathered Sunday say it's necessary to have such a charter to be able to live together and that religion is creeping into everyday Quebec society and it causes strife between citizens.
The rally comes on the heels of an anti-charter rally in the provincial capital on Saturday and a significantly larger anti-charter march in Montreal a little over a week ago.
Organizers say they're pleased with the turnout, given the event was organized at the last minute.
The minority PQ government is expected to table the charter this fall after hearing from the public and has continued to defend it publicly in the last week.
But the charter is unlikely to pass in its current form. The opposition Liberals are against the charter altogether and the second opposition party that has the swing vote in legislature, the Coalition, has denounced it as too radical.
The Coalition has offered to endorse a watered-down version, but the PQ has suggested it will listen to public input and might negotiate with opposition parties after it has been tabled.