Canada should stay out of Bill 21, Quebec Jewish leader warns

Photo courtesy Jacques Saada

Quebec’s Bill 21, which bars public employees such as teachers and police officers from wearing religious symbols on the job, has been in place for more than two years already. But the recent reassignment of Fatemeh Anvari, the third-grade public school teacher who was removed from her post for wearing a hijab, escalated the issue to an entirely different level.

Until now, political leaders have equivocated on the issue for fear of angering Quebeckers ahead of the federal election. After Anvari’s reassignment, that attitude has changed. Politicians from the prime minister to community and political leaders have, more loudly, spoken out against it for discriminating against Muslims, Sikhs and other minority groups—including religious Jews.

But the head of the Communauté sépharade unifiée du Québec—the province’s association of Sephardic Jews—is worried about the impact all this newfound opposition from outsiders will have on Francophones, who largely support the bill. Jacques Saada, a former politician and cabinet minister in Paul Martin’s government, joins to discuss why he personally opposes the bill, but believes the debate may fan the flames of separatism in Quebec.

What we talked about:

  • Learn about CSUQ at
  • Watch the protests in support of Fatemeh Anvari on YouTube
  • Read “Inside the uphill battle faced by opponents to Quebec’s Bill 21” on
  • Read CIJA’s position at


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