|Journal||Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal|
The Charter of Quebec Values tabled several years ago by the province's former Parti Qu bicois government threw into sharp relief the divisions among the population as to the appropriate model for managing cultural and religious diversity in Quebec. The Charter, and specifically its proposal to prohibit public employees from wearing "conspicuous" religious symbols in the workplace, was rooted in the French republican model, which generally subordinates individual differences to the principle of equality before the law, and strictly adheres to the principle of state religious neutrality. As the author explains, the appeal of the republican model lay primarily in the fact that it was diametrically opposed to the Canadian model of multiculturalism, widely seen in Quebec as having been imposed on the province without its consent, and to certain controversial human rights decisions in which the right to accommodation of individual religious beliefs came into conflict with another fundamental right, such as gender equal- ity. In the author's view, the resolution of the contest between the republican and the multicultural models is to be found in the creation of a concrete legal framework for implementing Quebec's distinct, consensual model of diversity management - interculturalism. Pluralistic in outlook, interculturalism differs from multiculturalism mainly in that it recognizes key "collective values" - the use of French as a common language, the religious neutrality of the state, and equality between men and women - which could justify a refusal to accommo- date religious convictions in some cases. By incorporating Quebec's collective values into the accommodation analysis, interculturalism holds the promise of reconciling ethnocultural differences with the continuity of Quebec's French- speaking core, and protecting the rights of all residents.