Jean Chrétien says Quebec's political class is "trapped" in a pointless debate over a non-existent problem: how to accommodate religious minorities.
And the former prime minister predicts the furor over whether public servants should be banned from wearing religious symbols will eventually fade away as common sense prevails.
"When you ask [Quebecers] the question, 'Do you want them to lose their jobs?' — [they say,] 'Oh, no,"' Chrétien said in an interview with Canadian Press.
The issue has been boiling in the province for more than 10 years, leading to a year-long study of "reasonable accommodation" by the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, the short-lived Parti Québécois government's charter of Quebec values and the late Liberal government's "religious neutrality" law that bans anyone providing or receiving public services from wearing face-covering religious garb.