Re­li­gious sym­bols in the work­place: opin­ion nu­anced in and out­side Que­bec, driven by spe­cific sym­bols

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Prairies/swift Current - CON­TRIB­UTED

As var­i­ous polls show wide­spread sup­port in Que­bec for the CAQ gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed ban on pub­lic em­ploy­ees in po­si­tions of au­thor­ity wear­ing vis­i­ble re­li­gious sym­bols, a new sur­vey from the An­gus Reid In­sti­tute sug­gests that pub­lic opin­ion on the is­sue is more nu­anced than might be as­sumed.

While two-thirds of Que­bec res­i­dents (65%) say they sup­port the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal over­all, the data show that both in that prov­ince and across Canada, ma­jori­ties also be­lieve pub­lic em­ploy­ees should be al­lowed to wear a cru­ci­fix or a Star of David on the job.

Mean­while, res­i­dents in all prov­inces say pub­lic em­ploy­ees should be pro­hib­ited from wear­ing a niqab or car­ry­ing a kir­pan – the cer­e­mo­nial dag­ger worn by ob­ser­vant Sikhs – at work.

Que­be­cers take a more re­stric­tive view than those out­side the prov­ince on re­li­gious head cov­er­ings – in­clud­ing the Mus­lim hi­jab, the Sikh tur­ban, the Jewish kippa, and the Chris­tian nun’s habit. Res­i­dents of other re­gions are con­sid­er­ably more di­vided when asked about im­ple­ment­ing such a ban in their prov­ince.

Over­all, 41 per cent of res­i­dents of the rest of Canada would sup­port a ban on pub­lic em­ploy­ees wear­ing re­li­gious sym­bols where they live, while 45 per cent are op­posed. The rest (14%) are un­cer­tain. The big­gest driver of opin­ion, as seen in the pre­ced­ing sec­tion of this re­port, is the type of sym­bols in ques­tion. That said, there are re­gional dif­fer­ences in sup­port for a ban like the one Le­gault has pro­posed in Que­bec. Sup­port is high­est in Al­berta and Saskatchewan and low­est in Bri­tish Columbia, Man­i­toba,

In the rest of Canada, mean­while, sup­port for a ban on re­li­gious sym­bols out­paces op­po­si­tion among those in the 35-plus age cat­e­gories, while a ma­jor­ity of younger re­spon­dents (56%) are op­posed:

More Key Find­ings:

• Out of nine re­li­gious sym­bols asked about in this sur­vey, only three (the afore­men­tioned cru­ci­fix, star of David, and nun’s habit) are ac­cept­able to more than half of Que­be­cers. Else­where in Canada, ma­jori­ties see six of the nine sym­bols as ac­cept­able

• Both in Que­bec and out­side of it, young peo­ple are less sup­port­ive of a po­ten­tial ban on pub­lic em­ploy­ees wear­ing re­li­gious sym­bols, while older re­spon­dents are more so

• Po­lit­i­cal par­ti­san­ship is also a key driver of views, with past Con­ser­va­tive vot­ers mostly sup­port­ing a re­li­gious sym­bols ban in their prov­ince, while ma­jori­ties of past Liberal and New Demo­cratic Party vot­ers are op­posed.

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