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Toronto Star: Quebec’s Divisive Secular Charter Draws the Pushback it Deserves

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Quebec’s divisive secular charter draws the pushback it deserves

Editorial

Has it come to this? Municipal employees in upscale Hampstead, in Montreal, have never been known to wear their religious beliefs on their sleeves. But Mayor William Steinberg tells the Montreal Gazette that some want to start sporting banned religious symbols if Bill 60, Quebec’s odious charter of “state secularism,” becomes law.

The message? Whoever we may be — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jews — we won’t be denied our constitutionally protected religious identities because Premier Pauline Marois and her Parti Québécois need a wedge issue to carry into the next election. The pushback to Bill 60, put before the National Assembly this week, has begun.

Marois has split Quebecers with her cynically divisive gambit to enshrine “secularism” in government affairs, managing to alienate even fellow nationalists. Past PQ premiers Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard, both iconic figures, have denounced it as a small-minded attack on minorities. And Françoise David of the Québec Solidaire party is disgusted. “As a sovereigntist I think this is a sad day, because people are being told, ‘Our sovereignty project, well, it’s not an inclusive project’,” she says.

As drafted, Bill 60 is even harsher than advertised. It prohibits judges, police, bureaucrats, teachers, doctors, nurses and others on the public payroll from wearing “conspicuous” religious gear such as Muslim head scarves, Sikh turbans, large crosses and Jewish kippas while on the job. But it also extends to private sector workers on contract to government. It takes aim at Muslim, Jewish and other dietary practices, even in daycare centres. And it offers fewer opt-out provisions than expected.

Given the PQ’s minority status, the bill’s chances of making it into law without being watered down seem remote. Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard has rightly denounced it as “a frontal assault” on civil liberties, and “unworkable, unlawful, unconstitutional.” Montreal’s mayor-elect, Denis Coderre, and fellow mayors representing 2 million people have denounced it as embarrassing, divisive and illegal. Jacques Frémont, who heads the Quebec Human Rights Commission, predicts the courts will “rip it to shreds.”

Still, the PQ seems eager to campaign on it in the next election, hoping to galvanize their base and capitalize on some voters’ fears that minorities are undermining their ill-defined values.

Having failed to peddle independence, the PQ is now reduced to stirring a furor over a nonproblem to regain traction. It is cynical, manipulative politics. People are right to push back.

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  • The greenmantle

    The only excesses multiculturalism as political process I ever saw is in the lies printed in the press – Daily Mail Sun Times Express all guilty
    Sir David

  • The greenmantle

    “Do some non-Anglophone societies sometimes see pluralism as an Anglo-Saxon imposition, as a result of American/British/Anglo-Canadian hegemony?”
    Thats a big yes here in France where they are very clear that they see the role of the none french to assimilate and see muliculturalism as ar

  • Diego Hernandez

    I can see that Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard are facepalming. No doubt many Quebec nationalists and sovereigntists who are too ambitious to fall for Marois’ gutter identity politics are looking with envy at Scotland’s inclusive pro-independence movement, within which members of Scottish ethnic and religious minorities play an active role. Marois seems to draw inspiration instead from continental European (esp. French) state secularism and ethnic nationalism.

    Sad indeed. Do some non-Anglophone societies sometimes see pluralism as an Anglo-Saxon imposition, as a result of American/British/Anglo-Canadian hegemony? Truly sad that Quebec’s sovereigntist party has fallen so far.

  • Yausari

    The article says R. Spencer said that CAIR is a “notorious Hamas-linked Muslim Brotherhood Front Group”
    I mean lo’ ol. Does he even know what “notorious” mean?

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    Conservative Mag: Glenn Greenwald Hates America

    http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/guest_bloggers/7393/conservative_mag__glenn_greenwald_hates_america/

    here is a good article i tackles the Islampphobes claims

  • mindy1

    Good -people should be allowed to show their faith as long as they do not force it on anyone else

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