MONTREAL -- Another giant in the Quebec sovereignty movement came out against the Parti Quebecois' plan to ban state employees from wearing conspicuous religious symbols in the workplace.
Former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard told a Montreal newspaper this week that the proposed charter of values has negatively affected the province's reputation.
Bouchard deplored the recent reports that veiled Muslim women were being accosted in Quebec streets.
"(The perception) is not good for Quebec," he said. "It's not good either for the perception of what a sovereign Quebec would look like, exercising its power without constraint."
Bouchard's comments were in line with those of former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau, who criticized the charter in a column for QMI Agency newspapers on Thursday.
While the comments from the sovereignty movement's leading intellectual were surprising, Bouchard's statements were less so, Concordia University professor Harold Chorney says.
Bouchard resigned from the PQ in 2001 due to what Chorney described as "excessive narrow-mindedness" of the party's leading stalwarts.
Both Parizeau and Bouchard said the values charter should drop the requirement for all state employees to work without wearing religious symbols.
However, both former premiers said Quebec should prevent judges, police, prison guards and Crown attorneys from wearing religious iconography.
Moreover, they both agreed that those who give and receive provincial services should have their faces uncovered.
Chorney said the criticism might not influence the PQ to change its position when it tables legislation on the charter.
"Quebec Premier Pauline Marois seems to be an insular person," Chorney said. "She doesn't canvass widely for her opinions, she might be stubborn."