Outremont: The right to worship, and build, must apply to all

Yves Boisvert on the Outrement zoning referendum:

With large families, the community is slowly but surely expanding. Synagogues are jam packed. Rough winters and a religious prohibition to drive a car on Sabbath make it essential to find a nearby location.

Hasidic leaders expressed their disappointment over the referendum. They suspect the ban is a clear attempt at limiting their development, if not pushing them outside Outremont.

“We’re not talking about the Hasidic community,” Ms. Cinq-Mars said, insisting that the ban applies equally to all religious groups.

Meanwhile, just a few streets further east, the Mile-End/Plateau borough, where Mordecai Richler was born, seems to find accommodations easily with Hasidic leaders. There are 10 synagogues there and borough Mayor Luc Ferrandez says he only has to sit with leaders to find solutions and compromises. “They have the right to establish places of worship in their neighbourhood; you have to be very arrogant to deny them that right,” he told La Presse.

Indeed, a legal challenge is in the making. Fundamental rights cannot be cancelled by the majority rule. Even if it applies equally to all, the zoning effectively targets a very specific religious group. As French writer Anatole France famously said: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread.”

Source: Outremont: The right to worship, and build, must apply to all – The Globe and Mail

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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