Charter of Quebec Values and aftermath

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Quebec judge who demanded hijab removal needs a Charter lesson
By David Butt, Toronto-based criminal lawyer who has argued in the Supreme Court for the right of Muslim women to testify while veiled.
(Globe & Mail opinion) No doubt the judge in question is a committed secularist. And I for one would defend vigorously her personal freedom to hold those views whether I agree with them or not. But in doing what she did in her capacity as a judge, she is, ironically for a secularist, no better than the fundamentalist religious dogmatists who try to exclude those with different beliefs from fully participating in, and benefiting from, essential social institutions.
What the judge did was profoundly un-Canadian. And profoundly wrong.
20 February
Religious tension in Quebec resurfaces over mayoral interference
(Globe & Mail) A fierce debate has been reignited in Quebec over religious accommodation after three mayors blocked Muslim speakers and projects, and opposition lawmakers cranked up pressure on the province’s Liberal government to protect traditional values.
Some Muslim leaders say the moves represent a hardening stand not just against Muslim extremism but against Islam in general – one that is forcing a return to a thorny issue many Quebeckers thought had died down after the high-profile fight over the failed Quebec Charter of Values. As in that debate, Muslims say the new actions taken by the mayors are muzzling their ability to practise their religion, while others argue the moves were made for the greater public good.
15 January
Drainville unveils watered-down charter of values
It would no longer be possible for a doctor, nurse or teacher currently on the public payroll to lose their job for wearing a cross or hijab in the workplace in a toned down charter of values presented Thursday by Bernard Drainville.
But, in the future, new hires would not have such a right and would have to understand the state must not only be secular it must appear to be, Drainville said.
Conceding the original Parti Québécois government’s charter of values tried to change too much too fast, Drainville — a candidate for the party leadership — retreated on several key elements of the original bill he tried to steer into law while minister of democratic institutions in the former government. …
He insisted the new charter had little to do with the PQ leadership campaign, in which he’s trailing badly. He said as the minister responsible for the charter in the old Pauline Marois government, he felt he had a responsibility to carry on the work because it’s necessary.
And he dismissed the theory that the old charter, which divided Quebecers and sparked social strife, had anything to do with the PQ’s electoral loss after only 18 months in office.

2014

25 April
Aislin Quebec election 2014Kathleen Weil says Liberals don’t want charter
(CBC) Kathleen Weil is the new Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion. She spoke with Daybreak about her plans for the new role and the reason for the change in title.
Weil gets to work healing wounds caused by PQ’s charter push
(The Gazette) One day after new Premier Philippe Couillard instructed her to “heal the wounds” opened in recent months amid the identity debate, the minister responsible for patching up minority relations got to work. … Weil has a full agenda ahead acting on Couillard’s instructions. Pledging his government will represent all Quebecers, Couillard named Weil the province’s immigration minister, a job former leader Jean Charest gave her in 2010.
In a twist, he added to the immigration title. Weil, MNA for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, is minister of immigration, diversity and inclusion.
… Another thing on the Liberal agenda is digging up the legal opinions the PQ government said it had done indicating Bill 60 would past muster in the courts. On her way into caucus, Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée said the Liberals will make the opinions public if they can find them in the outgoing government’s files.

Pour un Québec inclusif
We are a group of academics and professionals from the legal, philosophical and journalistic fields, joined by citizens of all backgrounds and origins. We count among us both separatists and federalists, as well as others with no firm position on Quebec’s constitutional future.

Claude Ryan espoused a third approach to federalism
By Michael Gauvreau, professor of history at McMaster University, who is writing a two-volume biography of Claude Ryan, placing him at the intersection of Catholicism, liberalism, federalism and nationalism in Quebec between 1950 and 1995
Because, in Ryan’s estimation, Quebec had a special role to promote the equality of the French Canadian people in all corners of Canada, it required enhanced powers in those spheres of responsibility assigned to it by the Constitution.
(Ottawa Citizen) Claude Ryan’s death on Feb. 9, 2004 marked the passing of one of Canada’s leading public intellectuals and a staunch champion of federalism. Over the course of two decades, Ryan was the third pole in a debate waged for the hearts and minds of francophone Quebecers over the merits of federalism or sovereignty. Eclipsed by his betterknown contemporaries, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and René Lévesque, who enjoyed far greater political success, Ryan’s legacy is at once less visible and yet more enduring.
Ryan’s guiding imperative was intellectual activism, nourished during a long apprenticeship as national secretary of Catholic Action from 1945 to 1962. During this period, working constantly as an animator and educator, he forged an outlook that articulated how Catholic values and institutions could continue to inform and guide a society desperately seeking liberalization. This vision insisted emphatically upon the rights, dignity and obligation of Catholic laypeople to take responsibility for the progress of their society, during a period of overly close collaboration between the Catholic clergy and the provincial government of Maurice Duplessis. Ryan directed the leading Montreal intellectual daily Le Devoir from 1964 to 1978. His central role as an interpreter of the far-reaching social and cultural changes experienced by Quebec during the Quiet Revolution enabled him to use his considerable intellectual influence to further a search for stability and consensus around values that would harmonize continued respect for tradition with a remarkable openness to the liberalizing currents of modernity.
During these years, Ryan’s most important decision was, in the face of considerable pressure from Quebec nationalists who wanted a more radical solution to the crisis of their society’s place in Confederation, to opt for a staunch and consistent expression of federalism. His was not the rigid, “believe or die” federalism of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the gunslinger’s weapon in the final confrontation with the forces of separatism. Nor was it a halfway house on the road to a mitigated version of Quebec sovereignty, a caricature of his thinking frequently circulated by Trudeauite Liberals. Unlike Trudeau’s legalistic federalism, which lacked roots in Canadian historical reality, Ryan’s was a federalism that grew out of a deep sense of continuity with Quebec’s historical experience as a distinct social, cultural, and political community, which formed the vital core of French Canadian life in Canada. Because, in Ryan’s estimation, Quebec had a special role to promote the equality of the French Canadian people in all corners of Canada, it required enhanced powers in those spheres of responsibility assigned to it by the Constitution. This position placed him at odds with both Trudeau, who rejected any idea that Quebec was somehow “special,” and René Lévesque, who came to believe that Quebec’s cultural and social distinctiveness could only be protected by leaving Confederation, thus acceding to full political sovereignty.
But Ryan’s federalism also contained an ethical element lacking in Trudeau’s version. Federalism was not simply a matter of political tinkering but required a strenuous moral quest, involving a constant “dialogue” between English and French Canada. With its roots in Catholic social thinking and pedagogy, Ryan envisioned “dialogue” as an act that worked unprecedented transformations in both parties engaged in it, a process that would give rise to unforeseen new attitudes and relationships. Ryan’s enduring influence in Canada lay in the fact that his invitation to dialogue persuaded a sufficient body of francophone opinion to resist the blandishments of sovereignty. But he was always clear that English Canada, as the majority society within Confederation, would have to undergo as profound a “revolution” as had Quebec in order to fully participate in this federalist dialogue. Unfortunately, English Canadians preferred the easy assurances of Trudeau that his federalism could deal with the “Quebec problem.” The results of this choice are evident today, in the installation of what Ryan always feared, a psychological climate of separation between the aspirations of Quebec and English Canada. (14 Feb 2014)

Bernard Drainville Bio graduate of LSE (Master’s in International relations, Commonwealth Scholar, Parliamentary intern … what went wrong?
Quebec’s Multiculturalism Debate
Letters Regarding “Quebec’s latest stand” (Review, Jan. 11) by Jean-François Lisée:
Rhéal Séguin: Seven battles to watch in Quebec’s war over religious freedoms
Les élections sont passées. Les langues se délient au Parti québécois.
(La Presse) Saviez-vous que Jean-François Lisée était contre une bonne partie de la Charte des valeurs? Il jugeait exagéré qu’on veuille étendre aux hôpitaux, aux universités ainsi qu’aux municipalités l’interdiction du port de signes religieux visibles. Dans les officines péquistes, on parle désormais plus librement des frictions entre le ministre Lisée et son collègue Bernard Drainville, le parrain de la Charte controversée.
Un autre adversaire de cette charte qui se trouvait au coeur de la stratégie identitaire du gouvernement Marois? Alexandre Cloutier, juriste avant d’être politicien. Il voyait clairement que le projet était susceptible d’être battu en brèche par les tribunaux. Publiquement, il soutenait même après les élections: «Vous aurez compris qu’on aura une sérieuse réflexion à avoir sur le contenu même de cette charte. Il y a des éléments qui pouvaient davantage rassembler. Je pense qu’on aurait dû se concentrer sur ce qui faisait davantage consensus.»
Lisée, Drainville disagreed on Charter provisions
3 April
Gazette Editorial: The full folly of the values charter is now clear
In the months before the current election was called, senior Parti Québécois figures dined out on Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard’s shifting positions on the government’s values charter, Bill 60.
Now, however, in the thick of the election campaign, it is the PQ that is flipping and flopping in the charter debate, to the point where its arguments on the proposed legislation have descended into utter incoherence.
On Monday, the minister responsible for Montreal, and liaison with the anglophone community, Jean-François Lisée, met with The Gazette’s editorial board and said repeatedly that no one would lose their job as a result of the charter provision that would ban the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by public-sector employees. But the very next day PQ candidate Evèlyne Abitbol said precisely the contrary in a candidates’ debate.
The following day, Premier Pauline Marois, after some waffling about transition periods and discussions with public employees who insist on retaining their symbols, finally conceded that jobs would be lost. But then she added that the government would help such dismissed people to find other employment in the private sector.
This beggars belief, since the PQ has said the charter interdictions would apply to private firms doing business with the government, and Marois had earlier encouraged private businesses to fall in line with the charter provisions. And as Couillard noted, we are talking here about teachers, nurses and daycare workers, who mostly work in the public sector: “Where are they going to send them, Ontario?”
Then, after months of denying that the government would not use the notwithstanding clause to protect the charter, Marois conceded, “If we need it, we will use it.”
All indications are that the government would need to. Both the Quebec Human Rights Commission and the provincial bar association have declared that the discriminatory legislation is manifestly unconstitutional. The government has long maintained it has ironclad legal advice to the contrary, but it has never made these opinions public.
Nor has the government come up with any studies or other justificatory evidence in support of the repressive measures included in the charter. All Quebecers have been given are dire warnings about a looming fundamentalist menace in the province that is the fruit of fearful imaginations, and such loopy scenarios as Janette Bertrand’s horror of rich fundamentalist McGill students appropriating her apartment building’s swimming pool.
There was incoherence in the government’s charter arguments from the outset. It maintained it was necessary to assure the secularism of the state, when this has long been an entrenched fact. Ditto equality between men and women. It was argued the charter would unite Quebecers, when it has had the contrary effect, splitting public opinion down the middle and inciting displays of intolerance against women wearing head scarves.
It is not surprising that the PQ has failed to make a coherent case for the charter, since there was never a rational argument for it, other than as a wedge issue to secure its re-election and to advance the separatist cause.
14 February
Former Canadian Bar President condemns Bill 60 – Bernard Amyot calls it a “vindictive act”
By Beryl Wajsman
(The Metropolitain) Former Canadian Bar President Bernard Amyot, a leading Montreal lawyer and frequent commentator in the written and electronic media on issues of social justice, has come out strongly against the PQ’s Bill 60. Amyot’s positions have often moved issues and he felt compelled to speak out in the midst of the National Assembly hearings on the contentious legislation.
Amyot told The Métropolitain that, “All my professional life I have made respect for the rule of law the hallmark of my public engagement. The reason is simple. Our social cohesion, and the protection of our democratic values depends strongly on the fidelity we evidence towards the rule of law and due process, which fidelity obliges elected officials to work within established parameters – within the rules of the game if you like – that protect the equity and equality of all citizens.
12 February
Louise Arbour: With the Charter, Quebec risks closing its mind
To have rights is like having an umbrella; it’s only useful when it’s raining.
Just about everything has by now been said about the merits of the proposed Quebec Charter of Values, including some utterances that would have been better left unsaid. Three main lines of argument divide Quebeckers: whether this legislation is unconstitutional; whether it promotes gender equality; and, finally, whether it is a wise political and moral choice
7 February
Ex-justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé supports secular ‘values’ charter
Former top court justices Claire L’Heureux-Dubé and Louise Arbour disagree on Bill 60’s viability
[See Globe & Mail of Sept 23 2013 Ex-Supreme Court justice said to be a Quebec charter backer organizers of the newly formed Rassemblement pour la laïcité say the retired justice told them she endorses their views, and they have published her name in a list of backers.]
La charte de la laïcité a des relents de franquisme, croit Guy Breton
Le recteur de l’Université de Montréal juge que le projet de loi 60 restreindra la liberté universitaire
(Le Devoir) …« la charte de la laïcité ébranle le « socle » d’un établissement universitaire propre à « tous les pays démocratiques », c’est-à-dire la liberté universitaire.
Le ministre Bernard Drainville, blanc de colère, a refusé de serrer la main de M. Breton avant son départ de la salle du Conseil législatif.
1 February
Zombie Parades and Muslim Prayer Habits Are Being Used to Defend Quebec’s Charter of Values
This spike in the polls despite (or maybe because of) this parade of ignorant opinions is seriously worrisome. When the future of Quebec stands to be significantly influenced by Bill 60, it’s scary that this is the kind of commentary being taken into account.
23 January
Another respected media voice joins the fray:
The Dangerous Logic of Quebec’s ‘Charter of Values’
(The Atlantic) The Canadian province is debating whether to prohibit public employees from wearing clothing with “overt” religious symbolism.This co-opting of liberal values essentially confuses the concept of secularism. There is little difference between a Muslim imposing Muslim dress on a non-Muslim, and an atheist demanding all Muslim women go bareheaded. Yet the Parti Québécois is raising the specter of the former to justify the codification of the latter into law. Some advocates of Bill 60 appear less concerned with progressivism, or even secularism, than with fending off the perceived encroachment of religious (mainly Muslim) fundamentalism. Claire Rochette, a Bill 60 supporter who spoke to The Globe and Mail, summed it up perfectly: “[Bill 60] is essential for the survival of the Québécois. Our ancestors have fought to survive for 400 years. We suffered enough from the Catholic Church. We don’t want any religion to dominate us again.”
In many ways, the Church’s take is actually more progressive than that of the secularist Parti Québécois. As Monsignor Pierre-Andre Fournier, in a statement from the Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops, warned last September, “While it may be true that the state is secular, society is pluralist.… People are free to believe or not believe … no official religion, but no official atheism, either.”
17 January
Quebec Values Charter: Human Rights Commission Says It Can’t Survive Legal Fight
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) The province’s human rights commission says many provisions of Quebec’s proposed values charter are unlikely to withstand legal challenges and would only serve to create more confusion than clarity.
Commission president Jacques Fremont said the bill foreshadows a sharp decline in individual rights and freedoms and would likely create the perfect climate for more conflict and litigation in Quebec society.
It concludes that much of the proposed legislation would have to be heavily modified before it could be deemed compliant with the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “In some cases, it passes the threshold and in others it doesn’t,” Fremont told a news conference Friday.
The commission was due to testify at a later date at public hearings on the values charter but Fremont went public with his organization’s memoir after parts of it were leaked in a newspaper. Quebec’s human rights commission voices ‘serious reservations’ about Bill 60 — Highlights of the Human Rights Commission brief on Bill 60:
Demands to replace minister in charge of Charter of Values
(CTV) Another day, another two groups coming out against the provincial government’s proposal to redefine human rights in Quebec.
Quebec Inclusif, the assembly of sovereignists and federalists opposed to the Charter, is asking Premier Pauline Marois to put the Justice Minister in charge of the Charter of Values.
The group said that Bertrand St-Arnaud would be “more competent” in dealing with the many legal issues that have been brought up concerning the PQ proposal to rewrite the province’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Alan Hustak: Bill 60 “Destructive Legislation”. Quebec’s Anglocatholics Want It Scrapped
(The Metropolitain) The English Speaking Catholic Council wants the minority PQ government to scrap Bill 60 arguing that its proposed secular charter would undermine the so-called “First Freedoms” enshrined in any democratic society.In its submission to public hearings on the legislation which opened Jan 14, the ESCC says the bill is an “unnecessary and destructive” piece of legislation.
The ESCC further contends that the bill demonstrates the PQ government’s profound misunderstanding of the nature of religious expression. “Whether by accident or design, the framers of Bill 60 flirt dangerously with collapsing two related but philosophically distinct notions of a secular state and a secularized society,” it contends. “Commonly understood, a secular state is one in which no one religion is established, in which there is separation between the church and state…Bill 60 in its current form is not about promoting a secular state, but rather would eliminate religious expression altogether and march Quebec towards a society which has been stripped of the public symbols, voices, and institutional presence of religion. A secular state does not mean one in which religion has no place, rather, it is designed to guarantee freedom for religion not freedom from religion and religious expression.”
15 January
Graeme Hamilton: Drainville bans ‘racist’ at Quebec Values charter hearings. The word that is
But while calling someone a racist is forbidden within the National Assembly’s Salon Rouge, where the committee hearings are occurring, the venting of intolerant views earns an approving nod from the minister.
Mr. Drainville’s concern for decorum did not extend to a subsequent speaker, Michelle Blanc, who spent a large part of her hour-long time slot lashing out at the Muslim headscarf.
14 January
Kimon Valaskakis‘ nuanced view of Bill 60, published as an op-ed in the Montreal Gazette: A Tower of Babel society doesn’t work.
First, the separation of religion and state is there to protect both the freedom of religion and avoid a theocratic state. Religion is and should remain a private and community affair. The state should be neutral. Granted that the present version of the proposed Quebec charter is poorly worded and may lead to excesses, but we should not, for this sole reason, reject its underlying principles.
… Living together in the same place does not always bring harmony. It often leads to conflict. The way to avoid ethnic strife is to have a completely a-religious state and to clearly separate what is in the public domain and what should be private beliefs.
… We have to recognize the primacy of indigenous cultures over imported ones. In Canada all cultures should not be equal. Canadian culture must be deemed more important than the immigrant ones. By extension, this should be true for Quebec, Ontario, Maritime and Western variants of this homegrown Canadian culture.
Multiculturalism is good, but transculturalism is better. What is transculturalism? Like fusion cuisine, it is the blending of elements within a core base.
13 January
La Charte «inapplicable» dans le réseau scolaire
L’interdiction du port de signes religieux à laquelle tient mordicus Bernard Drainville est «inapplicable» et «irréaliste», coûtera une fortune et entraînera «de nombreux conflits» dans le réseau scolaire, prévient la Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec
13 January
Seven battles to watch in Quebec’s war over religious freedoms
More than 250 individuals and groups have submitted briefs, and most requested to appear before the committee. With more than 200 hours set aside for the submissions, the hearings will last several weeks and could become a backdrop to an early spring election. Some groups and individuals have influenced the debate, even though they may not appear before the committee.
Graeme Hamilton: PQ minister twists facts to defend Values Charter
(National Post) To substantiate his claim that the Charter is “progressive and modern,” Mr. Lisée, who is also minister responsible for the Montreal region, brazenly misrepresents the situation in Quebec’s largest city.
It is, in fact, in cosmopolitan Montreal, not in more homogenous French regions of Quebec, that one finds the strongest supporters of the religious neutrality of state employees’ attire: 61 percent of the Francophone majority living in the city. (Admittedly, Montreal’s Anglophone minority is very much opposed, five to one.)
There has not been a lot of Montreal-specific polling on the Charter, but an October CROP poll for Radio-Canada did find that 60% of Montreal francophones support the Charter. Overall, though, 58% of Montrealers opposed the charter, including 40% who said they are strongly opposed. The only way Mr. Lisée can pretend that his project has the backing of Montreal is if he excludes anglophones and allophones, which doesn’t sound very cosmopolitan.
10 January
Quebec Inclusif demands mobilization against charter
Quebec Inclusif is a group of professionals and academics that was formed specifically to denounce the PQ’s tabled charter.
At a news conference on Nov. 8, Quebec Inclusif’s president Remi Bourget voiced some of the group’s concerns and frustrations.
Quebec Inclusif has published an online manifesto to publically explain its reasoning for denouncing the tabled legislation.
The document highlights the group’s four main concerns with the proposed charter: its inconsistency, exclusionary effect, focus on fear of the other, and its potential to result in a slippery slope effect.

Gazette coverage of the Charter
See also: Beryl Wajsman: Lisée, Drapeau and Montreal`s special status
Sheema Khan: Reconciling Muslim practices with Western principles

How Bill 60 differs from the PQ’s proposed charter
What’s new:
The ban on religious symbols is expanded to include not just religious headgear and jewelry, but also clothing and “other adornments.”
The charter will try to restrict students from missing school for religious holidays that aren’t statutory — or Christian.
MNAs are now included among those covered by the dress code. If an MNA wishes to wear a religious symbol, there must be unanimous consent from the National Assembly.
The National Assembly will conduct a consultation to decide whether the crucifix will remain adorned on the wall of the chamber.
Anyone doing any sort of business with the state, even on a contractual basis, is expected to adhere to the charter.
Each public or para-public institution must have its own set of rules governing accommodation requests.
Public institutions must adopt policies to implement the charter, and post those policies on their websites.
The law spells out what happens to those who violate the charter: they must be spoken to by their supervisors before a disciplinary measure is taken. It would be up to the individual institutions to decide on disciplinary measures.
Religious food is banned from daycares if its aim is to teach children about religion.
What has changed:
The primacy of the French language is added to the amendment of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms that designates the equality of men and women and the separation of religions and the state as fundamental values. Originally, the proposed charter had envisioned granting a five-year exemption that would have been renewable for some institutions, such as the Jewish General Hospital, where many employees wear religious garb. Now, every public or parapublic institution has a transition period of one year to implement the charter.
Municipalities, as well as colleges and health institutions, can be granted an additional four years to implement the policy, but they must detail in writing to the government how they intend to conform to the law by the end of that period. © Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Charte des valeursGet ready for Quebec values charter debate replay: Hébert
By now the main arguments for and against the Quebec secularism charter have been made. They’ll be made all over again when public hearings on the issue begin next week.
A good number of the institutions that would be impacted by the charter have irreconcilable differences with the imposition of a secular dress code on their workers.
Their ranks include most of the province’s universities, Montreal’s municipal government as well as Quebec’s hospital network and a majority of doctors.
Otherwise sovereigntist-friendly labour unions such as the FTQ have warned that if the dress code comes to pass they may end up challenging it in court on behalf of some of their members.
On the other hand the main nurses’ union is on side as is the union that represents Quebec’s civil servants.
Some feminists embrace the PQ plan; others totally dislike it. Past PQ premiers such as Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard oppose it but it has inspired no public dissent in the ranks of the government. … no amount of repetition in public hearings will clarify the question that matters most to the future of this legislation and that is whether it even has a legal leg to stand on.
… the PQ government’s preference is to wait to be dragged in[to] court, ideally from the perspective of sovereigntist optics by an unpopular federal government.
Until then Quebec is in for a replay of last fall’s dialogue of the deaf that is expected to set the tone for an election showdown.
Opinion: In today’s Quebec, the values charter is hard to digest
Food is one obvious, and rather elemental, manifestation of that immigrant influence. Every wave of foreigner to the shores of Quebec has brought with it a cuisine. One can mark the extent to which an “ethnic group” has become part of the “us” and not the “them” by the transition from ethnic food store to ethnic food aisle in the grocery to complete integration. Spaghetti isn’t what any westerner would now call ethnic, yet, at a time in our history, it was. When tacos and curries show up at potlucks, can they still be called ethnic? When bagels are found six to a bag in the bread section of the supermarket and cream cheese comes in smoked salmon flavour, we’ve all gone beyond thinking of eastern European Jews as living solely on The Main.
Yet, among others, the kippah-wearing Sephardic Jew, the hijab-wearing Muslim Arab, the turban-wearing Sikh, the Greek Orthodox Christian are being made to feel they don’t belong in Quebec society. We’ll eat your tagine and your hummus and your curry and your tzatziki, even if we can’t pronounce it, but don’t even think of working as a doctor, a teacher, a judge, a police officer, or bidding on a government construction contract, if you insist on wearing religious headgear or a cross around your neck.
Quebec National Assembly prepares for charter hearings

2013

17 December
Concordia University’s Board of Governors and Senate on Bill 60:
Charter affirming the values of State secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests
Concordia University is strongly committed to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and to the diversity of our community, and the inclusion of all individuals in public life. Concordia is proud to participate actively in the public life of Quebec.
16 December
KONRAD YAKABUSKI: This PQ provocateur is divisive, but no Machiavelli
(Globe & Mail) The Parti Québécois cabinet minister and strategist has a healthy opinion of his own cunning and, with it, has managed to penetrate the inner circle of successive PQ leaders.
No matter that most of his ideas are ignored or ridiculed, PQ chiefs know that keeping this diehard sovereigntist on the inside is far safer than letting him run loose on the outside, where his critiques and constant provocation can cause them more trouble. … After the PQ returned to power in 2012, Mr. Lisée moved from backroom strategist to perhaps the most important player in Ms. Marois’s minority government, after the Premier herself. The proposed Charter of Quebec Values … bears his imprint in substance and style.
13 December
Lysiane Gagnon: De signes et de religions
Dans le document de réflexion qu’elle vient d’adopter sur le projet de charte de la laïcité, la CSN soulève un point rarement abordé, mais très pertinent.
La centrale désapprouve l’idée de distinguer les signes religieux ostentatoires des signes discrets, parce que cela désavantage les religions dont les signes extérieurs sont par définition ostentatoires.
En effet, cette règle avantage essentiellement les chrétiens, qui peuvent se rabattre sur un pendentif orné d’une petite croix. Mais pour le juif orthodoxe, il n’y a pas de mini-kippa. Idem pour le voile islamique ou pour le turban sikh. …
12 December
CSN comes out against ban on wearing of religious signs
And delegates from across the province, attending a CSN Conseil confédéral, also proposed granting public employees who now wear religious signs at work an “acquired right,” allowing them to continue to do so, if Bill 60, as the PQ Charter of Quebec Values is known, is adopted.
6 December
Quebec federation of nurses supports secular charter
More than 60 per cent of nurses surveyed support a ban on wearing religious symbols in the workplace|
(CBC) The federation said the measures in the charter would reaffirm the neutrality of the state and equality between men and women.
3 December
Physicians blast MUHC’s ‘pathetic’ charter response
At Tuesday evening’s annual general meeting of the MUHC, CEO Normand Rinfret alluded to Bill 60 in his remarks to more than 200 people, warning that the ban on “conspicuous” religious symbols would make it harder to keep talented staff at the hospital network.
“I can assure you that the MUHC will be heard in loud volumes about the great needs that we have as an academic health-sciences centre to be able to retain our people and to be able to continue to recruit people across all faiths, all religions and all languages,” Rinfret said.
“I find your remarks pathetic,” Dr. David Morris, an endocrinologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital, told Rinfret during question period.
2 December
Point chaud – Charte de la laïcité – Duceppe rejoint Parizeau et Bouchard
Inutilement restrictives : après Jacques Parizeau, Lucien Bouchard et Bernard Landry, c’est au tour de Gilles Duceppe de trouver trop sévères les dispositions de la charte de la laïcité qui concernent le port des signes religieux. L’ancien chef du Bloc québécois plaide notamment pour une plus grande cohérence dans l’approche de la laïcité.
19 November
Graeme Hamilton: The floundering fathers of PQ charter compare themselves to Jefferson, minus the slaves
(National Post) From the moment it applied the lofty designation of “Charter” to a hodgepodge of rules that would curtail the rights of religious minorities, the Parti Québécois government seemed to be suffering delusions of grandeur.
The diagnosis was confirmed Monday when the principal architects of the Charter of Quebec Values wrote to the New York Times to defend their project and portrayed themselves as successors to none other than Thomas Jefferson.
International Affairs Minister Jean-François Lisée and Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville were peeved by a Nov. 12 opinion piece in the same newspaper that said the PQ had “seemingly ventured into Tea Party territory” with a Charter appealing to the white, populist rural vote.
The Tea Party analogy had been made earlier in French by Jérôme Lussier in l’Actualité, but when anglo-Quebec journalist Martin Patriquin made it in the Times, he was roundly accused of “Quebec-bashing.”
Messrs. Lisée and Drainville write that far from living a “Tea Party moment,” as the headline on Mr. Patriquin’s article said, Quebec is living a “Jefferson moment.”
16 November
Lysiane Gagnon: Fatima et Djemila
Le débat sur la charte n’a rien à voir avec les dangers (bien réels) de l’intégrisme musulman. Le Canada compte d’innombrables garde-fous à ce chapitre (SCRS, GRC, lois spéciales contre le terrorisme, échanges avec la NSA, le FBI, la CIA et les organismes de surveillance européens…). Ce n’est pas un projet de loi de l’Assemblée nationale qui ajoutera quelque chose à l’arsenal anti-djihadiste.
15 November
Don Macpherson: The Jewish General’s defiance creates a problem for the government
On Wednesday, Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital issued an extraordinary statement threatening to ignore the proposed charter’s ban on the wearing of “conspicuous” religious symbols by public employees at work.
What made the statement so extraordinary is not only the threat itself but also the stature of the institution making it, its tone, its timing and its possible implications.
The JGH’s bold action could inspire other institutions to follow its lead in the five weeks they have to prepare their briefs.
On Friday, the McGill University Health Centre said it will continue to defend the right of its staff to wear religious symbols, though it stopped short of saying it, too, would ignore the ban.
A refusal by even one major hospital to enforce the ban, however, could make it politically impossible for the government to make other institutions enforce it.
14 November
Parti Québécois values charter gets a boost, with help of Liberal Muslim MNA
The Moroccan-born MNA [Fatima Houda-Pepin] said she has long been concerned about the rise of fundamentalism while staying silent on the Liberals’ position, which opposes any ban on religious symbols as long as the face is uncovered.
Her public statement might not sway any actual votes in the legislature, where the Parti Québécois plan does not have enough support to pass.
13 November
Jewish General Hospital vows to defy Bill 60
(Montreal Gazette) Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, the newly appointed executive director of the Jewish General, said the hospital will not even consider using the exemption clause in Bill 60.
“This bill is flawed and contrary to Quebec’s spirit of inclusiveness and tolerance,” Rosenberg said.
“Since the bill is inherently prejudicial, there is no point in taking advantage of any clause that would grant us temporary, short-term relief. If approved, this offensive legislation would make it extremely difficult for the JGH to function as an exemplary member of Quebec’s public health-care system.”
Isn’t it good to know that the issue is being reported on by Al Jazeera:
Push for ‘secularism’ divides French Canada
Official charter would ban public servants from wearing religious symbols, such as headscarves, yarmulkes or crucifixes.
12 November
Martin Patriquin: Quebec’s Tea Party Moment
(NYT op-ed) A recent poll suggested the values charter is most popular with white, Francophone males living outside Montreal — where immigrants are about as frequent as New York Rangers fans.
In catering to this white, populist rural vote, the left-of-center Parti Québécois has seemingly ventured into Tea Party-like territory. Janette Bertrand, the 88-year-old leader of a pro-charter group, recently told a newspaper that she would be “scared” to be served by a veiled doctor, because Muslims let women “die faster.” She wasn’t joking.
Anti-immigrant sentiment exists across Canada. Yet Quebec is the only province with a political party willing to exploit that sentiment for political gain. Will it work? Probably not, if only because winning any future referendum on Quebec’s separation from Canada would mean putting the question to each and every Quebecer — including the very people the Parti Québécois is scaring or scapegoating today.
8 November
Quebec’s charter has nasty surprise for anglos
(CJAD) … One of the charter’s measures will actually change Quebec’s charter of human rights so that the primacy of French must be taken into account when considering people’s rights and freedoms.
“There is absolutely potential for all kinds of nasty things to happen,” says Sylvia Martin-Laforge of the Quebec Community Groups Network. “You know, those rights and freedoms that we take for granted every day will be subject to this state-defined collective identity.”
7 November
Charter would be overturned, constitutional expert says Quebec’s new secularism charter could land before the Supreme Court of Canada by the time the government starts firing employees for wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols, a leading expert on constitutional law predicts. “We probably could get through to the Supreme Court before anybody loses a job,” Julius Grey said.
Bill 60, tabled Thursday by Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville, realized critics’ fears by barring all public-sector employees from wearing “headgear, clothing, jewelry or other adornments which, by their conspicuous nature, overtly indicate a religious affiliation.”
But Grey said he was confident that if passed, the charter will be quickly overturned by higher courts. “Nothing in this bill has changed my mind that large parts of it would probably fall,” Grey said.
Lettre [de Philippe Couillard] à la première ministre concernant la Charte des valeurs québécoises
Malheureusement le dépôt du projet de loi de votre gouvernement est l’opposé d’un geste rassembleur. Il constitue, selon les mots de la Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, une attaque sans précédent contre les droits et libertés des Québécoises et des Québécois. Il est encore temps de revenir à une position plus raisonnable et de prévenir une fracture sociale dont les premiers signes ont commencé à se manifester.
Charte: Denis Coderre réitère son opposition
Même s’il estime la Charte des valeurs toujours aussi insatisfaisante, le nouveau maire de Montréal, Denis Coderre, souhaite «laisser aller le processus» avant d’entamer des poursuites. Son administration a déjà chargé les fonctionnaires de rédiger un mémoire qui sera déposé lors de la commission parlementaire, a-t-il annoncé cet après-midi en point de presse.
PQ government unveils renamed charter as bill
There was a moment of drama before the bill was presented, when PQ house leader Stéphane Bédard announced the first-reading vote would be a motion of confidence in the government.
Pierre Moreau, the Liberal house leader, said the first-reading vote only means the assembly agrees to consider the bill and cannot be considered a confidence motion.
In its form as legislation, the charter has taken on a longer name: the “Charter affirming the values of State secularism and religious neutrality and equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests.”
The PQ government has a minority and can be outvoted on the bill, which all three opposition parties in the assembly oppose in its present form. They have said they would vote against the charter, scuttling Drainville’s bill.
But following assembly practice, Bill 58 was adopted on first reading without opposition.
It must pass second reading, approval in principle and third reading, after clause-by-clause study during which the opposition parties can propose amendments before it becomes law.
Assembly hearings, when interested parties can express their views on the charter and make recommendations, will likely begin in the new year, PQ house leader Bédard announced.
6 November
Quebec values charter gets a new, 28-word name
(Canadian Press) The Parti Quebecois’ controversial charter of values is being rebranded, and its official new name is less than succinct.
It will be tabled [Thursday 7 November] as a bill in the legislature under the formal title: Charter Affirming The Values Of Secularism And The Religious Neutrality Of The State, As Well As The Equality Of Men And Women, And The Framing Of Accommodation Requests.
5 November
Sheila Arnopoulos: ‘Nasty remarks and dirty looks’
Hijab-wearing women say they experienced little discrimination — until the charter of values made them targets
(The Gazette) I have been talking to many of the young hijab-wearing women at Concordia and all of them say it is their personal choice to wear head scarves.
Those I have met — including those born here who went to French schools, as well as many from French-speaking North Africa — want to stay here. But now some are considering eventually leaving Quebec for another province.
These women pointed out that they experienced little discrimination in Quebec before the arrival of the proposed charter of Quebec values — which they feel is specifically targeting Muslim women.
4 November
Charter: Quebec HRC in complete opposition to the government, chairman says
(The Gazette) [commission chairman Jacques] Frémont was speaking candidly to students at Dawson College about the charter, which he said, from a legal perspective, is a mishmash of concepts — pitting societal “values” against individual rights — but also from the perspective of someone who’s (sic) mandate is to protect people from being discriminated against in their daily lives.
In that context, the proposed charter’s prohibition of ostentatious religious symbols like hijabs, in the public and para-public realm — for subsidized daycare workers, teachers and nurses, as well as many other professions paid for by the state — was its most problematic aspect.
2 November
Julius Grey: Inutile et dangereux
Le mot qu’évoque la proposition de «charte des valeurs québécoises» est malheureusement «atavisme». Il s’agit d’un retour à un passé de préoccupations identitaires dont nous pensions nous être libérés.
Cette charte est une erreur monumentale, tellement désastreuse et porteuse de discorde que, dans le meilleur cas, si on abandonnait tout simplement le projet, plusieurs années seraient nécessaires pour calmer les incertitudes, les émotions, les doléances des deux côtés du débat.
Mireille Silcoff: Why I have faith in medical treatment delivered by the religiously devout
(National Post) … even if you know absolutely nothing about religion, or even if you think a man in a turban is a brainwashed person out to get you with his freaky God glue, you might, for just one second, in a situation of hardship, also understand that all head coverings are a sign of humbleness, in some form or another. They are a sign of service to something other than yourself. Of course, it doesn’t mean everyone is wearing them screwed on right, but when you are in a hospital bed, it’s one place where the symbol on its own can be a comforting sight, because you figure: well, at least they are trying.
24 October
Editorial: Feedback doesn’t validate the values charter
The Parti Québécois government’s claim that its proposed Charter of Quebec Values has been validated by favourable random feedback from Quebecers is bogus — as bogus as its previous justifications of this odious measure.
23 October
The public favours charter of values: Quebec
(Montreal Gazette) questions remain about the merits of the consultation process, given other polls showing Quebecers deeply divided on the issue. Both the Liberals and Coalition Avenir Québec parties said Tuesday the process lacks credibility, and insisted the government make public the actual emails it got rather than issuing a summary. And Jack Jedwab, the executive vice-president of the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration, dismissed the summary as “yet another attempt to stack the political deck” on an issue that remains as divisive as ever. He said the government’s conclusions are based on flawed data masking as a representation of public thinking.
The simple fact the government does not know the demographics of the sample (gender, language, age and region) is proof their analysis cannot be considered representative.
PQ says public loves the values charter
(Canadian Press) The Quebec government says it has heard from the public on its controversial values charter — and is ready to adapt the plan as a result.
[Bernard Drainville] says 47 per cent were entirely favourable of the plan, and 21 per cent were mostly favourable but wanted some changes. [He] lumped those two categories together and said that means 68 per cent favour the charter. He says only 18 per cent were opposed.
21 October
Values charter deals with a problem that doesn’t exist, symposium told
The proposed Charter of Quebec Values addresses a problem that doesn’t exist and shows no signs of appearing, McGill University law professor Daniel Weinstock told a public symposium Sunday on the Parti Québécois’s controversial plan.
“There is no evidence of the problem to which this fairly extreme set of responses has been developed,” he said, And yet, two months after it was introduced, the charter proposal still has “legs,” he said. …
Weinstock suggested that support continues because of what he called “a very strange unholy alliance” among members of three disparate groups: those who believe that Quebec has not completed its transformation into a completely secular — here he used the word “laïque” — state, another representing some feminist circles and another some nationalists.
However, deep fissures are beginning to appear within each of these constituencies and he is confident that these “fault lines and fissures” will erode support for the proposed charter, he said.
Janette Bertrand doesn’t regret support for Quebec charter
Bertrand was one of 21 women who wrote an open letter last week saying that allowing public servants to wear religious garb would turn the clock back to the time when Quebec women were dominated by men and the clergy.
On Tout le monde en parle Sunday, Bertrand said television host Julie Snyder invited her to meet with a group of about 20 women of all ages to discuss the charter, and she offered to write the letter on their behalf.
After Bertrand’s open letter was published Tuesday, La Presse published an article quoting Bertrand saying she would not want to be treated by a woman wearing a hijab. Bertrand said Sunday that she had put her foot in her mouth when she made that statement, and denied that she is xenophobic.
18 October
Charter infringes on human rights: commission
The proposed Charter of Quebec Values ‘would not stand up to a court challenge under the current jurisprudence,’ Quebec human rights commission says
16 October
Rachel Bendayan: It’s dangerous to give religious freedom short shrift
(Gazette op-ed) Of all the fundamental rights enjoyed by citizens of modern democratic societies, religious freedom is fast becoming the runt of the litter.
Virtually none of us question the importance of free speech or assembly, or the right to privacy or security of the person. We accept that these rights are not absolute, and that when one of them rubs up against another in a particular context, a choice between them must be made. Yet the essential value of these freedoms is all-but-universally acknowledged, even when limits are imposed.
When it comes to freedom of religion, however, recent history has shown a tendency to view this right as less legitimate than other rights. Premier Pauline Marois said so explicitly in an interview on Radio-Canada last month, affirming that gender equality is “the more fundamental” freedom when compared with freedom of religion, which, she allowed, will “also be possible.”
15 October
Prominent Quebec women defend Charter of Values
A group of prominent Quebec women, referring to themselves as ’Les Janette’, are throwing their support behind the Quebec Charter of Values and the ban on religious symbols.
Radio and TV host, Janette Bertrand, recruited nearly 20 famous women to defend the charter, including, actress Denise Filiatrault, television producer Julie Snyder, writer Djemila Benhabib and film producer Denise Robert.
In an open letter published in Le Devoir, Le Journal de Montréal et La Presse, Bertrand addresses ‘the women of Quebec’ and argues that the Charter has the potential to end religious oppression and gender inequality.
12 October
Poll: Liberals ahead, Quebecers divided on charter
36 per cent of Quebecers polled said they would vote Liberal, 34 per cent said PQ, and 17 per cent said Coalition Avenir Québec
11 October
Montreal’s mayoral candidates have no mandate to oppose charter: Lisée
Jean-François Lisée, in his role as Parti Québécois minister responsible for Montreal, suggested Thursday that the four main candidates running for mayor of Montreal Nov. 3 have no mandate to oppose the PQ’s proposed Charter of Quebec Values.
5 October
Andrew Coyne — Two solitudes: the PQ’s reality of separation and image of inclusion
If nothing else, Parizeau’s intervention will cement an emerging media narrative. By promoting what amounts to a policy of institutionalized discrimination in the public service, runs this line, the PQ is breaking faith with its own traditions of tolerance and open-mindedness. Years of efforts to reach out to the province’s minority communities are being squandered. It’s a sad decline for the party of Rene Levesque.
Thus is the party exonerated, even as it is being convicted. This is not the “real” PQ. It is some other PQ, an imposter perhaps. The real PQ apparently exists in another dimension, where it does not propose measures to harass and confine minorities; where it does not speak freely of “nous” to mean, not the whole of the province’s population, but only the French-speaking, overwhelmingly white majority; where it does not harbour members who point out that, écoute, c’est John Charest, on his birth certificate, or fulminate about self-pitying Jews, or propose limiting future referendum votes to Quebecois de souche. You just can’t see it.
4 October
Former Quebec premier Landry adds voice to charter critique
3 former PQ premiers have now weighed in against current ‘Quebec values’ proposal
Landry is more tempered [than Bouchard] in his criticism of the proposed charter, calling the PQ government “brave” and “courageous” for wading into what he says is a necessary debate.
He admits he has misgivings about what’s been proposed so far, particularly the name the government’s given the proposed charter.
“It’s not [a charter of] Quebec values,” Landry said. “It’s a charter on secularism.”
Lucien Bouchard joins values charter criticism — (CBC) Becomes 2nd former PQ premier to oppose current proposal (La Presse) Charte: «Marois peut faire un triomphe»
La charte est un message hostile aux immigrants, selon Paradis
Le ministre fédéral Christian Paradis se prononce, à son tour, sur le projet de charte des valeurs au Québec.
3 October
Martin Patriquin: Parizeau takes aim at PQ values charter
(Maclean’s) What is surprising is Parizeau’s between-the-lines undressing of the rather crass Parti Québécois strategy: placate Quebec’s lily-white hinterland by playing to its worst fears; isolate and/or ignore Montreal, the only place in the province where Muslims live in any number; and play one off the other for electoral gain.
PQ stung by Jacques Parizeau’s rebuke of values charter: Hébert
Since he left politics almost 20 years ago Parizeau’s regular forays into the public debate — while they have often complicated the life of his successors — have never been of the shoot-from-the-hip variety.
Because of that and because of his enduring status as the elder statesman of the sovereignty movement, Parizeau could have weighed in on the charter from a phone booth and his take on it would still have resonated.
But his intervention — couched as it is in a nonconfrontational, pedagogical tone — was clearly designed with maximum exposure to the largest possible public in mind.
The op-ed piece was published not in the brainy, sovereignist-friendly Le Devoir but in the widely circulated Quebecor tabloids. They gave Parizeau’s argument that the PQ plan goes too far front-page treatment. That contention was supported by one-on-one radio and television interviews on a string of prime time programs.
Jacques Parizeau wants PQ to pull back scope of Charter of Quebec Values
Former premier suggests more moderate approach to secularism based on suggestions of Bouchard-Taylor commission
30 September
J-F Lisée: La Charte, les Québécois et le monde. Une mise au point.
27 September
Charte des valeurs québécoises – Thomas Mulcair modère ses intentions
Le Nouveau Parti démocratique ne financera finalement pas les possibles recours juridiques citoyens contre la Charte des valeurs québécoises. Du moins pas directement. Le chef  Thomas Mulcair a en effet précisé jeudi que le parti se contentera d’offrir un coup de main logistique à ceux qui voudraient contester la Charte devant les tribunaux.
« Julius Grey a dit qu’il accepterait de défendre des citoyens [sans frais] », a indiqué M. Mulcair lors d’un point de presse à Montréal. « Donc, il n’est pas question pour nous de le financer. Tout ce qu’on est en train de dire, c’est que, puisqu’on est sérieux lorsqu’on parle de la défense des droits, on va s’assurer que les gens n’aient pas de frais. »
25 September
Quebec’s limits on religious liberty

(The Washington Post Editorial Board) The legislation has yet to pass, and Ottawa is likely to subject it to judicial scrutiny if it does. Even so, large numbers of Quebecois support the measure, which is evidence of a deeper, more systemic issue: collective disregard for individual liberty and the freedom of religious expression. If the goal really is to establish an equal, secular society, those are the problems to address — not yarmulkes and hijabs.
Charter of Quebec Values would harm economy, drive away top talent: Federation of Quebec chambers of commerce
Business group issues strongly worded letter to Marois saying the ban on religious symbols would ‘be poorly received worldwide’

(CBC) The Politics of the Wedge [Issue] The Insiders are back to talk about the politics of the wedge issue. They discuss when to use it, how to use it and whether it actually works. (17 September)

Matthew Friedman: Dear Madame Marois
I can’t help but suspect your motives, Mme. Marois. It seems that you are trying to turn nous inside-out by cynically using the trust that we have in our leaders against us. The Charter seems to be an effort to convince the majority of Québécois who do not live in Montréal or Québec, where cultural and religious diversity is the quiet background to our daily lives, that they have something to fear from those who are different. You seem to be telling them that they have special privileges and that the only way to preserve them is to deny the rights of others. It seems to be a set-up, a cheap kayfabe designed to fail in order to mobilize support for your narrow ambitions.
It appears that you believe that you can play the people of Québec like a violin; that you have so much contempt for us that you can manipulate us at the basest level. I hope I am wrong about you but, if I am not, I know that you are wrong about us.

fleur de lys

 

… modern scholarship has established that the fleur-de-lis was a religious symbol before it was a true heraldic symbol. [21] Along with true lilies, it was associated with the Virgin Mary, and in the 12th century Louis VI and Louis VII started to use the emblem, on sceptres for example, so connecting their rulership with this symbol of saintliness. Wikipedia
18 September
Legault seeks compromise on Charter of Quebec Values
Premier Pauline Marois remained non-committal when Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault rose in the legislature to extend his “hand of friendship” and a compromise he says could see the debate wrapped up in a matter of weeks so everyone can focus on the economy
17 September
Not so sure that this offer is genuine
Quebec government softens stance on values charter
The Parti Quebecois government is inviting critics of its proposed public sector ban on religious symbols to come forward with ideas to change it.
Jean-Francois Lisée, the Parti Quebecois minister responsible for Montreal, said his government still believes that a ban on employees of the state such as police officers, judges, teachers, doctors and nurses wearing religious symbols in the workplace is the best way to affirm that faith has no sway over the civil service. But he wants to hear from those who think there is another way.
“We think the proposition that we have made to apply this to the entire public service is the right one,” he told reporters Tuesday. “How to get there, the transition, the right to an exemption, we are very open to propositions.”
Pauline Marois: The Sarah Palin of French Quebec?
Mitch Wolfe blog|HuffPost) I predict Marois’ internal conflicts with her own Montreal PQ members and separatists will further undermine support for her own party, her own government, her ill-conceived Charter of Quebec Values and will further divide the Quebec independence movement. … Marois’ Charter is thus influencing public opinion in Quebec and outside of Quebec, that the PQ’s base is in fact, rural, redneck and racist French Quebec Tea Party types, backed by a French Quebec civil service of Kippa Kops and Turban Troopers.
And the much maligned Marois is fast becoming the Sarah Palin of French Quebec.
15 September
Manifeste pour un Québec inclusif : le cap des 12 000 signataires franchi
Le cap des 12 000 signataires a été franchi cette fin de semaine pour le Manifeste pour un Québec inclusif, mis en ligne mardi et qui a abondamment circulé dans les médias sociaux.
De nombreuses personnalités ont apposé leur nom au bas du texte, dont Dan Bigras, Philippe Falardeau, Michel Rivard, Richard Desjardins, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Laure Waridel et Lise Ravary.
L’un des auteurs du manifeste, l’avocat Rémi Bourget, se réjouit de constater que des militants de tous les partis politiques, incluant du Parti québécois et du Bloc québécois, ont signé le manifeste qui dénonce le projet de Charte des valeurs québécoises du gouvernement Marois. (Texte du Manifeste)
Celine Cooper: The Montreal/heartland gap widens
The values charter reminds us that the multicultural nature of Quebec’s metropolis is a threat to the PQ’s ‘national unity’ project
Quebec Liberals jump to 7% lead over PQ as backlash grows over values charter
The poll, conducted by Forum Research, found support for Liberals in the province has jumped to 42% — up more than 10 points since the 2012 election — in the wake of the proposed Quebec charter of values.
Support for the Parti Quebecois sits at 35%, according to the poll. Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) came in third place with 12% support.
“We know from our polling that the proposed Charter is very popular among PQ supporters,” Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said in a Saturday statement, “but it appears that the ire it has raised amongst everyone else has blunted its usefulness as an electoral tool.”
Analysis: Quebec separatists play to core voters with headscarf, turban ban
(Reuters via Yahoo!) – Quebec’s separatist government is betting on broad popular support with a proposal that prohibits public workers from wearing headscarves, skullcaps and other religious symbols, yet it is dividing the movement that advocates independence from Canada.
The proposal, unveiled by the ruling Parti Quebecois on Tuesday, plays with the explosive issue of minority rights in a part of Canada, a country that prides itself as being a tapestry of immigrants rather than a U.S.-style melting pot. …
The idea of a Quebec charter of values has the support of 66 percent of Quebec residents, according to an online SOM poll conducted between August 30 and September 5, after elements of the plan were first reported.
Yet the new rules have even won the disapproval of the man often viewed as the hardline guardian of separatism, Jacques Parizeau, who was premier in 1995 when his forces came within a percentage point of winning a referendum on separation. Parizeau’s wife, Lisette Lapointe, a member of the Quebec legislature, said the two of them oppose the new plan, which pits multicultural Montreal against the rest of the province.
14 September
Quebec flag as hijabQuebec values charter protest hits Montreal streets
Faith groups uniting against Parti Québécois proposal
(CBC) Thousands of people, many wearing religious headgear, marched through downtown Montreal on Saturday to denounce Quebec’s proposed charter of values, which would bar public employees from wearing overt religious symbols in schools, hospitals and elsewhere in their line of work.
(National Post) Hundreds protest Quebec values charter while Jewish group criticizes organizers’ ‘dubious objectives (Montreal Gazette) Loud and proud, protesters in the thousands marched peacefully through Montreal’s downtown core Saturday afternoon to voice a single demand — withdrawal of the proposed Charter of Quebec Values by the Parti Québécois minority government. Organizers said the event drew at least 40,000.
13 September
Maria Mourani, expelled Bloc MP, quits the party
Mourani denounces Quebec’s charter of values as an ‘electoral strategy’ dividing Quebec
Mourani told reporters gathered at a press conference in her home riding of Ahuntsic in Montreal Friday morning that she was very saddened by the turn of events, which have left her questioning her involvement within the sovereigntist movement.
Wednesday Nighter comments: According to the 2006 Census (won’t cite NHS), the riding was a third immigrant – half well-established (arrived pre-1991) and a quarter primarily used a non-official language at home. She was representing her riding, and will likely win hands down next election, provided she can afford the race.
Alain Dubuc: Le pacte avec le diable
(La Presse) Cette semaine, je n’étais pas très fier d’être Québécois. La mascarade du dévoilement de la Charte des valeurs québécoises m’a gêné profondément, m’a inquiété surtout, parce que ce débat sert de révélateur aux moins beaux côtés de l’âme québécoise et aux variantes les moins nobles du nationalisme québécois.
12 September
Éric Grenier: Francophones flock to PQ during charter debate: polls
The Parti Québécois’s proposed Charter of Quebec Values has been hugely controversial both inside and outside the province, but polls suggest French-speaking Quebeckers are onside with the plan. And these are the voters who decide elections in Quebec.
Francophones make up a majority of residents in more than 85 per cent of Quebec’s provincial and federal ridings. More than half of Quebec’s 125 provincial ridings are at least 90 per cent francophone, and two-thirds of the province’s 75 federal seats are at least 80 per cent French-speaking. That makes this group decisively important in elections.
André Pratte: La charte de la honte
Aveuglé par le potentiel électoral de la question identitaire, le gouvernement du Parti québécois a publié mercredi des orientations qui, si elles deviennent loi, feront reculer le Québec d’un demi-siècle. Le débat ainsi lancé, qu’aucune réalité n’impose, divisera le Québec. Certains fossés creusés le resteront longtemps. Les membres de minorités qui contribuent chaque jour à bâtir le Québec se sentiront ostracisés et le feront savoir au monde. La francisation des immigrants sera freinée.
11 September
PQ presses private sector to follow its lead on secular workplaces

(Globe & Mail) In an interview, the lead PQ minister on the charter issue, Bernard Drainville, said he believes an ongoing debate over demands for religious accommodations has created frustrations and tensions in Quebec. He said the charter proposes guidelines to help various organizations determine whether they need to adapt to the demands of religious groups. In order to do so, the charter offers criteria by which to evaluate a request by considering such matters as the existence of discrimination and the costs and safety issues associated with an accommodation.
“The guidelines that we are putting in place will allow for an evaluation of all requests for religious accommodations,” Mr. Drainville said. “It will be up to businesses, departments, agencies, organizations to apply them and to decide whether the requested accommodation is reasonable or not.”
The government will not impose the process on the private sector, but Mr. Drainville said it will be hard to ignore.
André Schutten: Who is calling the kettle black over Quebec values?
(Ottawa Citizen)… one [example] for each province west of Québec. In each case of state intrusion on religious rights, the majority of the mainstream media, federal politicians and society in general didn’t bat an eye.
As the state grows, the discrimination in employment practices by the state becomes all the more alarming. But the lack of accommodation for religious clothing and symbols, religious practices and rituals, and religious doctrines and teachings spills out well beyond the public service.
I hope that the Rest of Canada can do some introspection.
10 September
Mairie de Montréal : unanimité contre la charte des valeurs
S’il faut en croire les quatre principaux candidats à la mairie, la charte des valeurs ne sera jamais appliquée à Montréal. Tous l’ont en effet rejetée sans équivoque.
Denis Coderre est celui qui est allé le plus loin en promettant de demander un «statut particulier» sur tout le territoire de la ville, qui toucherait autant l’administration municipale que les hôpitaux et les institutions d’enseignement. Dans un salon de thé du Petit Maghreb, rue Jean-Talon, il a qualifié la proposition du gouvernement Marois de «totalement inacceptable».
«Mon vieux pif politique me dit que ça sent la diversion et la division, peut-être pour d’autres fins politiques, a-t-il déclaré. Il y a là un gouvernement minoritaire qui s’en va en élections. C’est «divisif», ce n’est pas cohérent, ça n’a pas de bon sens. On institutionnalise la discrimination.»
Harper government warns of possible legal challenge to Quebec’s proposed values charter
(National Post) Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government warned Tuesday it will launch a legal challenge against Quebec’s proposed charter of values if the charter is deemed to be unconstitutional. … [Employment Minister Jason] Kenney said the federal government will instruct lawyers in the justice department to “closely review” the provisions of the bill if it ever becomes law.
Michael Den Tandt: ‘Charter of Quebec Values’ worse than a mistake, it’s an abomination
The charter is already so shot-through with contradictions as to virtually guarantee its failure. For example: MNAs and other politicians, Drainville said, will be exempt from the rules. Asked why, he said people should be able to choose whether they’ll vote for a veiled woman, or not. The grotesque double standard lay like an enormous pit at his feet, for a moment or two. He appeared not to see it and forged gamely on.
Asked why the National Assembly would keep its large crucifix above the Speaker’s chair, Drainville replied that the reasons are historical. Asked what, exactly, was the harm in a teacher wearing a religious symbol, he said: “It sends a religious message. That’s… that’s the problem. And for the people who see it, it can certainly be interpreted for… for what it is.” Jesuitical, that. Asked how the rules will be enforced, by whom, and according to what precise guidelines, he waved it all aside. “If there is a problem eventually on the size of things, people will just sit down and agree.” Oh well, in that case…
Chris Selley: Quebec ‘values charter’ is as stupid and divisive as we feared
quebec-charter-dos-(9)Quebec reveals religious symbols to be banned from public sector
After weeks of trial balloons and leaks to the media, the outline of the Charter of Quebec Values arrived largely as expected, with the possibility of exemptions for certain institutions like hospitals and a plan to enshrine the principles of government religious neutrality and secularism in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
… Bernard Drainville, the minister in charge of the file, says he will create exemptions for municipalities, hospitals and universities and colleges that want to allow their employees to wear religious symbols, such as hijabs or turbans. The exemptions would not include schools or daycares to ensure children are not influenced by religious symbols, he said
9 September
Beryl Wajsman: The “Values Charter” – A different perspective
[Its] open inconsistencies and hypocrisies raise the central question that puts the PQ proposal in a negative light even among those who favour total secularism in the public arena. What motivated this government to propose a laity law that goes too far on the one hand and not far enough on the other? Why propose a law that cements age-old prejudices and privileges and continues a sad tradition of division and discord? The answers to these questions are not yet fully clear, but from what has been evidenced so far they may stem from a very opportunistic and dark place indeed.
7 September
Pearl Eliadis: Why the Charter of values is bad for Quebec, Canada, and the world
Quebec is once again threatening to appeal to heritage and “values” and to disconnect “values” from rights.
I say “once again” because the controversy over the “charter of values” cannot be laid entirely at the feet of this government. It is the third in a trilogy of ill-considered efforts from both the PQ and the Liberals to play the identity card. In 2009, there was Pauline Marois’ Bill 391, An Act to assert the fundamental values of the Quebec nation. In 2010, the Liberals got in the game with Bill 94, An Act to establish guidelines governing accommodation requests within the Administration and certain institutions.
Equality presupposes a shared commitment to fundamental rights and freedoms, not to any particular culture or heritage. Newcomers to Canada should have just as much right to hold onto their cultures as other groups, within reasonable limits.
Lise Ravary: Quelques pages d’histoire anglaise…
(Journal de Montréal) Vous savez pourquoi je me méfie autant de cette charte des valeurs québécoises ? Parce que la première ministre et son ministre responsable, Bernard Drainville, n’hésitent pas à manipuler l’Histoire et la réalité pour mieux nous vendre leur solution en quête d’un problème. Well worth reading. The comments provoked by this article indicate a discomforting level of anti-immigrant sentiment and ignorance among the readers.

Aislin_ Marois and xenophobia Paul Wells at his brilliant best.
Pauline Marois: Protecting Quebec against the fate of England
I could spend a day cataloguing Islamist and anti-Islam and anti-Semitic and other insults, attacks and slights in Britain vs. the rest of Europe, but I doubt any of you would be in a better mood by the time I got done. To be fair to Marois, there is always room for plenty of introspection about the proper balance between integration and assimilation. One of the most prominent critics of British multiculturalism has been the country’s prime minister, David Cameron. In the real world, there’s plenty of room for British anti-racism advocates to give interviews to French newspapers discussing the merits and flaws of each country’s approach.
Marois’s approach is less nuanced, but there aren’t a lot of political leaders anywhere who find themselves tempted by nuance when seeking to sell divisive policies that please their voter bases. With Marois there is this bonus: she has less travel experience and less experience working with, and observing, English speakers than any Quebec premier in my lifetime. Much of the world puzzles her. (6 September)
PQ debate on values bringing irreconcilable differences to the surface: Hébert
(Toronto Star)
The PQ hopes its charter will help set the clock back to the glory days of its coalition; that it will unite that the most traditionalist segment of the Quebec electorate and the progressive francophones who have been at the forefront of the battle for gender equality and for secularism under its banner.
But so far the debate is bringing more irreconcilable differences between those two constituencies to the surface and inspiring the opposite of a collective sense of purpose.
The charter of so-called Quebec values that Marois is about to put forward is the brainchild of a party at wit’s end to recoup its former territory before the competition settles in for good.
Polls and a lot of anecdotal evidence show that the debate of the accommodation of religious minorities and the notion of the imposition of a secular dress code on public-service workers has the most traction in areas of Quebec where the ranks of such minorities are so sparse as to already render them invisible.
4 September
LYSIANE GAGNON: Quebec wants secularism – for some
This crucifix has been promoted by the government to the rank of a “patrimonial” object, like a historic cathedral or the cross on Mount Royal. Even the previous Liberal government didn’t dare remove the crucifix for fear of offending the French-Canadian majority who clings to this identity symbol even while the churches go deserted. One can only conclude that secularism is something that’s good for the “others,” not for “nous autres.”
2 September
Konrad Yakabuski:Marois plays a masterful game of identity politics
Ms. Marois, no doubt counselled by Mr. Lisée, knows exactly what she’s doing.
Identity politics is always bad news for the provincial Liberals, and so the party’s new leader Philippe Couillard has the most to lose as the charter dominates political debate. The party depends on unwavering support among anglophones and immigrant communities to secure a base of seats in the National Assembly. Mr. Couillard has strongly opposed the charter’s outright ban on religious symbols, but must walk a fine line on the issue in francophone Quebec. He can only hope the debate shifts back to the economy – and fast.
The Coalition Avenir Québec risks being squeezed out of the charter debate. Leader François Legault has attempted to find a middle ground between the PQ (“too radical”) and Liberals (“who dragged their feet in office”). But Mr. Legault, too, needs the debate to shift to taxes and public debt if his struggling party is to maintain much of a raison d’être.
29 August
Trudeau’s segregation link infuriates PQ as Marois concedes language bill may be doomed
(National Post) Marois concedes controversial language law Bill 14 would not be watered down anymore and might die on the order paper because of opposition obstinacy
Margaret Somerville: The fine line between utopia and dystopia
(Ottawa Citizen op-ed) There is an old saying in human rights that “nowhere are human rights more threatened than when we act purporting to do only good.” Let’s give the Parti Québécois the benefit of the doubt that they believe their proposed charter of Quebec values will do only good. The problem is that this belief blinds one to the harm also involved. And our messy collective human soul is most in danger when we seek perfection, are certain we are right, and unjustifiably control others, just because they are different from us and we don’t see them as fitting in. The proposed charter of Quebec values manifests all these characteristics.
Martin Patriquin: Define ‘nous’
(Maclean’s) It means “us,” but in Quebec it is arguably the most loaded of terms, its meaning dependent on who is uttering it.
Exhibit one: In 2007, former journalist and future PQ MNA Jean-François Lisé wrote Nous, a navel-gazing treatise on identity and belonging within Quebec’s Francophone majority. The book’s cover, a Benetton-worthy illustration of smiling multicoloured faces, pretty much says it all: in Quebec, everyone can be a Nous—provided they learn French.
Fast forward five years. In the run-up to September 2012’s election, the Parti Québécois unveils its campaign slogan, “C’est à nous de choisir” (It’s for us to choose). Taken on its own, it might have been as innocuous as one of those Benetton-worthy drawings on the cover of Lisée’s book. Except you couldn’t help but notice how the 2012 campaign was less Benetton ad than Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue, version française: smiling, happy and entirely fleur-de-lis white from front to back.
Here, for example, is the campaign’s official video. Over stirring strings and choral voices, we hear Pauline Marois say, “Like all people of the world, we have the right to be ourselves,” with a cut to a handsome white woman. “We have the right to be proud of who we are,” she says, as the video cuts to a (white) father and son. “Proud of our values,” Marois says, with a shot of the building-sized crucifix atop Mont-Royal. “Proud of our language, proud of our youth.” Cue more white people, and then a few more to bring the whole thing to a roiling crescendo. Essentially, it’s a two-minute repudiation of Lisée’s charming notion of inclusion.
I bring this up as context to the “Quebec values charter,” the crisis du jour perpetuated by the PQ. The other day, Pauline Marois said a charter banning the wearing of religious symbols would be a “strong uniting force for all Quebecers.” The commentariat, both English and French, went into spleen-venting mode. What unity could possibly arise from singling out those by what they wear around their neck or over their hair?
Trudeau defends remarks on Quebec charter plan, Harper emphasizes ‘inclusion’
Justin Trudeau is under fire in Quebec for further escalating the debate over the Parti Québécois government’s proposed secular charter, saying he has no regrets for linking the debate in Quebec to the civil rights battles over segregation in America in the 60s.
On Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau paid tribute to Martin Luther King on the 50th anniversary of his famous “I have a dream” speech, saying that Dr. King “refused segregation … denied discrimination … refused to allow [people] to believe that they were second-class citizens.”
Continuing his speech before a crowd of about 1,500 supporters, Mr. Trudeau said, “We sadly see that even today, as we speak, for example of this idea of a Charter of Quebec Values, there are still those who believe that we have to choose between our religion and our Quebec identity, that there are people who are forced by the Quebec State to make irresponsible and inconceivable choices.”
28 August
PQ downplays city of Montreal’s motion against proposed charter of values
Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville Wednesday downplayed the significance of Montreal’s resolution saying Quebec’s proposed charter of values goes too far.
Refusing to view the resolution adopted by council Tuesday evening as a setback, Drainville turned things around to say he welcomes all input into the debate.
PQ’S Proposed Secular Charter (video)
(Global) The morning show speaks to Political Science professor Emmanuelle Richez about the PQ’s proposed Secular Charter meaning to Quebec and its implications.
André Pratte: La tyrannie de la majorité
Au cours des derniers jours, les ministres Bernard Drainville et Jean-François Lisée ont justifié le bien-fondé de la future «charte des valeurs québécoises» en soulignant qu’une majorité de Québécois y est favorable. Un sondage publié hier par les médias de Québecor confirme que 57% des Québécois approuvent l’adoption d’une telle charte et que plus de 60% applaudissent l’interdiction du port de signes religieux par les employés de l’État.
Pourtant, en matière de droits fondamentaux, l’appui de la majorité est l’argument le moins convaincant et le plus dangereux de tous. Les lois protégeant les droits de la personne existent précisément parce que la majorité et le gouvernement qui la représente tendent à brimer les groupes minoritaires.
John Ivison: Tory silence on Quebec’s proposed religious symbols ban is pure politics
At some point soon, the prime minister will have to call the PQ’s plan what it is — a disgrace — even if it costs him Quebec
… But if the Office of Religious Freedom is to have any credibility, surely it must speak out about discrimination in its own backyard? …
Simple — it’s smart, if cynical, politics. A new QMI Agency poll Monday suggested 67% of all respondents — 77% of francophones — say there is already “too much” religious accommodation. Two-thirds of francophones say a Charter of Quebec Values is a “good idea.”
English media ‘pathetic’ in coverage of Parti Québécois minorities plan: ex-premier
“It’s infuriating but it’s so pathetic to go and say that Quebec is xenophobic and racist — when from the start of our national adventure we intermingled with Amerindians [emphasis added]. The majority of us have Amerindian roots, one-quarter of us have Irish roots, we have had six premiers of Irish origin. What are these people talking about? Why are they so misinformed in the rest of Canada? … Poor Bernard Landry, this latest rant is one of his most peculiar.
23 August
Irwin Cotler: The PQ Wants to Force Religious Quebecers Into The Closet
All nationalisms risk veering off course into intolerance. Fortunately, in Quebec, throughout the many years that we have wrestled with issues of identity and nationhood, some of the most ardent leaders of the nationalist movement have also been staunch advocates of inclusion. René Lévesque said that “a nation is judged by how it treats its minorities”; his Minister of Immigration, Gérald Godin, urged Quebecers to “form with the cultural communities a new world, a model society, better, free, open and welcoming”; and Lucien Bouchard spoke of a nationalism that “no longer seeks homogeneity but embraces diversity and pluralism.”
However, the so-called “charter of values” reportedly being contemplated by our provincial government would make a mockery of the free and open society that many of Quebec’s nationalist leaders have been promoting for decades.
Secularism charter would permit institutions to opt out
(The Gazette) Quebec’s proposed secularism charter would allow hospitals and other publicly funded institutions to opt out of a province-wide ban on religious garb for public employees, The Gazette has learned.
Bernard Drainville, the minister for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship, told Jewish-community representatives this week his government will give hospitals, CEGEPs, universities and other institutions the option of seeking an exemption from the charter.
“I think what they’re looking toward is an opting-out clause, basically throwing on the laps of the board of directors of each hospital the onus of dealing with this issue,” said Luciano Del Negro, Quebec vice-president of Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), who met with Drainville Tuesday.
Far from making the proposed charter more acceptable, the idea of involving institutions in the secularism debate raises the spectre of bitter controversies and administrative chaos, Del Negro said.
22 August
Margaret Somerville: Op-Ed: Quebec bans religion from the public square
(Ottawa Citizen) Freedom of religion is a complex and multi-faceted fundamental freedom, which is threatened and becomes the focus of conflict when secularists object to religion or religious people playing any role or having any influence in the public square. … The word “secularists” is important: we need to make a distinction between a secular society and one that espouses secularism. Canada is a democratic secular society; it respects freedom of religion and religious people. Quebec secularists want to convert the province to one based on strict secularism, laïcité, which is not neutral regarding religion. It is a belief form and ideology, much like a religion, a principle edict of which is the active exclusion of religion, religious people or religious views and values from any public input, influence or role. The proposed ban on religious symbols in public spaces or public sector occupations would be a strong statement that religion should be evicted from the Quebec public square and debates on social and public policy.
That would be anti-democratic and amount to disenfranchising religious people. Calls to do that have been rejected by Canadian courts, for instance, the Supreme Court of Canada in the Chamberlain case upheld the right of all people in a democratic society to have a voice in the public square, no matter what the basis of their beliefs and values.
PQ confirms its plan for charter of ‘values’ on minority accommodation
‘It’s a good balance between respect for individual rights and the respect of Quebecers’ common values,’ minister says
20-21 August
Dan Delmar: PQ leaders know their secularism plan is illegal. They just don’t care
(National Post) The plan is rooted in a cultural insecurity that plagues Quebec’s leadership; an obsession with being distinctly non-Canadian when the values of Quebecers are, in the grand scheme of things, not so drastically different from their counterparts in other provinces. The problem is that Quebec’s provincial leaders tend to be neither mature nor enlightened enough to responsibly carve out that distinct identity. So, we’re left with improvised policies like the upcoming values charter that are, at best, unintentionally bigoted.
Curran: PQ’s us-vs.-them agenda out of touch with reality
It is tempting to dismiss this proposed charter of values as a dead horse. With a new Liberal leader in place and a provincial election expected by next spring, it’s highly improbable the PQ will ever get such a contentious bill off the floor of the National Assembly.
Yet it speaks volumes that at a time when our roads are caving in, geriatric services are abysmal and mayors are dropping like flies in a toxic pool, the PQ government has wasted time, energy and our money even contemplating an idea so embarrassing and divisive. Or, as Charles Taylor, co-chair of the Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accommodation, put it Tuesday, “draconian” and “Putinesque.”
Almost makes me want to go out and buy a head scarf and a great big cross.
Critics call Quebec’s proposed ban on religious headwear ‘Putinesque’
Quebec is heading into another fierce debate over the future of religious freedom in the province with the Parti Québécois government set to release a Charter of Quebec Values that could ban religious headwear everywhere from daycares to hospitals.
On Tuesday, a news report suggested that the minority government of Premier Pauline Marois wants to prohibit public employees from wearing items such as hijabs, turbans and kippas, in a broad ban that could extend from elementary and university teachers to nurses and child-care workers. …
Human-rights lawyer Julius Grey, who has fought numerous constitutional cases, says the rules would likely fail a challenge under freedom-of-religion provisions in the Canadian Charter of Rights. Because Quebec’s new rules would reportedly exempt private schools, the proposals risk driving minorities into separate, religious-based schools, he said.
Charte des valeurs québécoises: un chemin semé d’embûches
(La Presse) La Charte des valeurs québécoises du gouvernement péquiste est encore loin d’être adoptée, mais déjà, le coprésident de la Commission Bouchard-Taylor s’insurge contre la possible interdiction du port de symboles religieux dans les institutions publiques. Il s’agirait d’«une erreur capitale» rappelant la situation dans la Russie de Vladimir Poutine, soutient le philosophe Charles Taylor.
Don Macpherson: PQ “values charter”: sinister, ridiculous, and pathetic
As described in Le Journal de Montréal, the “values” charter would be sinister. For it would continue a trend of weakening that charter’s protection of unpopular minority rights, in the private sector as well as the public one. In this case, protection against discrimination and for freedom of religion would be weakened.
Also, it would promote religious segregation by stigmatizing the devoutly religious, explicitly exclude them from employment in the public sector and implicitly encourage discrimination against them in the private sector.
In the particular case of women from minority religious communities, it would promote not the integration into the workforce that would expose them to other values, but their isolation and impoverishment.
At the same time, however, the PQ’s “values” charter would manage to be ridiculous. For it would add protection of gender equality to the rights charter, where it is already protected–three times.
(CTV) Emmanuel Richez on Quebec Charter of Values

The inspiration for The Charter?
23 September 2012
French National Front leader Marine Le Pen calls for ban on wearing of the Jewish skullcap in public – ‘in the name of equality’
Ban on full-face coverings – including the Islamic veil – came into force in France last year
Marine Le Pen is now calling for a ban on all religious headgear, as well as kosher and halal food in schools
‘What would people say if I only asked to ban Muslim clothing? They would burn me as a Muslim hater’

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