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Quebec Assembly Adopts Measure Outlawing Bias in Hotels, Restaurants

The Legislative Assembly of Quebec unanimously approved a Government measure to make any discrimination illegal in the hotels, restaurants and camping grounds of the Province of Quebec. The Canadian Jewish Congress, which had urged such legislation, sent a congratulatory telegram to Prime Minister Jean Lesage.

In presenting the amendment to the existing law, Carrier Fortin, Minister Without Portfolio in the Quebec Cabinet, said that he believed it would serve as an example to other provinces. Asserting that discrimination on religious and racial grounds “is not practiced generally in Quebec,” he told the legislators that the law was designed “to prevent isolated instances and to ensure that visitors to the province, especially those who come to the World’s Fair, will be received anywhere without incident. We want to affirm the principle that all people have equal rights here.”

The original law left a hotel owner the right to refuse a person food and lodging if there was “just cause.” This provision had been under sharp criticism as being too vague and open to abuse. The amendment reads:

“No owner or tenant of a hotel, restaurant, or camping ground shall directly or through his agent or a third party, refuse to provide any person or class of persons with lodging, food or any other service available to the public in the establishment, or discriminate against any person or class of persons with respect to lodging, food or any other service available to the public in the establishment, because of the race, creed, color, nationality, ancestry or place of origin of such person or class of persons.”

Under the amended act, any person found guilty of a violation will be liable to a fine of $20 to $100 for each offense and, in the event of subsequent offense within two years, to a fine of from $50 to $200. Written authorization by the Minister of Tourism, Fish and Game is required for prosecution.

The Canadian Jewish Congress in commenting on the amendments said that while the Minister was correct in saying that such cases of bias were not frequent, “anyone with any experience in these matters will attest to the fact that there are a sufficient number to warrant the introduction of the bill.”