Feds allow religious decorations
OTTAWA — For a second year, the Harper government has issued a directive to civil servants giving them the green light to adorn their office space with tinsel, symbols of Santa or any other forms of holiday decorations.
The lights and decorations lift spirits, and it’s perfectly fine for anyone celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah to place seasonal symbols at government work sites, says Treasury Board President Tony Clement.
“Our Government will not allow the Christmas spirit to be grinched,” Clement said.
A statement was to be issued Monday reminding federal employees of their right to festoon.
Last year, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley issued a similar directive after a government manager banished Christmas decorations, trees and holiday wreaths from front-line Service Canada offices across Quebec.
The Quebec chief of Service Canada was roundly criticized in early December, 2011 after he sent e-mails to employees telling them they could hang holiday decorations in their personal spaces, but not in areas serving the public.
Clement said he wanted to make clear to all federal employees this year that the Conservatives have no issue with the decorations.
“I see nothing wrong in the workplace at this time of the year . . . to have the tinsel or the Christmas cards or even a little mini nativity scene or a Menorah,” Clement said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
Clement, who celebrates Christmas with his family, acknowledged there are some people who would rather not be confronted by holiday decorations in government buildings.
But people who wish to celebrate their religious beliefs should be allowed to do so, he said.
“This is an inclusive time of year. We have people of all faiths, we have people of no faith,” said Clement.
“If people with faiths wish to demonstrate that in some way, (and) that it’s within the rules that are set out throughout the year, then we have no issue with that.”
There was an almost immediate response to Clement’s statement after it was released Sunday, from public servants expressing their delight.
“Way to go. Now I want to really decorate my cubicle,” one office worker wrote on Clement’s Twitter feed.