Although previous provincial governments rejected the idea of removing the crucifix hanging above the speaker’s throne in the National Assembly‘s Blue room, the CAQ government has done what others have refused to do – Quebec removes crucifix from National Assembly on Tuesday July 9th.The crucifix has hung there since 1936, although it was replaced by a new one in 1982. Premier François Legault had repeatedly said the crucifix would remain there, as it was an important part of Quebec’s heritage and it was ‘not a religious symbol, but a historical one’, and he has clearly changed his mind.
Last March, as the debate over Bill 21 grew heated, the province’s controversial secularism legislation (banning religious symbols for those working in the public service, including police officers, judges and teachers), many people were saying it goes against the very idea of the bill. Simon Jolin-Barrette, the CAQ’s Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister, then tabled a motion in the National Assembly calling for the crucifix to be removed and placed in another part of the legislature. It will now be located in a place between the Blue and Red rooms for visitors to view.
The removal of the crucifix follows the City of Montreal’s announcement last March that they will remove the one in their Council Chamber during the renovations now taking place. It has hung in the chamber for more than 80 years and will be moved to a museum. Mayor Valerie Plante had said ‘the crucifix is an important part of Montreal’s heritage and history, but as a symbol, it does not reflect the modern reality of secularism in democratic institutions’. And so comes the end of an era.