Well, once again, English media in Quebec proves their disconnect from the province and the Quebecois people from their insulated little elitist world. And I refer to Quebecois of all stripes, unlike the tone of this article which seems to paint French Quebec with a brush dipped in prejudice.
Let’s break this down, starting with the topic sentence, full of unsubstantiated vitriol and proverbial pot-stirring;
“Thursday was a sad and shameful day. In a move rooted in traumas of the past and unjustified fears in the present, the Legault government introduced legislation that is toxic to Quebec’s future.”
If we do not learn from the past, then we are doomed to repeat it. Quebecois know, full well, what happens when religion – any religion – gains a foothold in government. The traumas are still occurring as a result of the unreasonable authority given to individuals who believe in imaginary father figures.
Bill 21, “An act respecting the laicity of the state,” bans the wearing of “religious symbols” by certain public officials. Its application is broader and its terms harsher than expected.
“While it ostensibly applies to adherents of all religions, the practical impact will be on observant Muslims, Jews and Sikhs for whom wearing hijabs, kippahs or turbans is not just religious expression, but religious practice.”
No, wearing of items is a cultural and therefore personal choice. Not religious practice.
“And these are not easily tucked behind a shirt, as a cross or crucifix might be. The government’s disturbing recourse to the notwithstanding clause to override the guarantees in the Canadian and Quebec rights charters testifies to the fact that fundamental rights are being abrogated, as does the insertion of laicity into the Quebec charter as something for which a proper regard must be maintained in exercising other rights.”
Nice try, but again, no. Fundamental rights are not being abrogated. No one is forbidden from religious adherence but are requested to refrain from obvious religious affiliation during their 8-hour work day, funded by the state. A secular body and Quebec tax payers who, by virtue of their majority, request that their desire for freedom from religion, be respected.
“The bill’s language is nothing short of Orwellian. Introduced by the minister of “immigration, diversity and inclusiveness,” it undermines all of those things. It declares that the laicity of the state is based on four elements: “the separation of state and religions” (while in fact the state is meddling in religion); “the religious neutrality of the state” (while the law’s effect is anything but religiously neutral); on the “equality of all citizens” (yet only some citizens’ rights will be trampled); and, most astoundingly of all, on “freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.”
The above statement is nothing short of histrionics. If I were to offer the author of the opinion piece some advice? It would be to actually read and understand Orwell’s novels and not use them to justify overriding the right of Quebecois to determine their future, which includes, a culture where religion is placed where it belongs, in the home or house of worship, not in the public domain. The state is not meddling in anyone’s religion. Nobody’s rights are being trampled, except perhaps, the rights of Quebecois who elected a majority government that never made secret of their desire to create a secular public service environment. Majority government. Freedom of religion is not being touched, in any way, shape or form. We are all free to believe in a fairy godfather/mother as we choose, we are simply being asked to not endorse one faith, one way or another, during our time in a work environment. This is not trampling on rights, it is showing respect to the province and the drive toward secularity.
“Bill 21 is as outrageous as it is unnecessary. No one in Quebec is calling for this province to be anything other than secular, a place where religion holds no sway over our government and public institutions. In any case, previous legislation had already enshrined state religious neutrality. However, what lurk beneath the surface of this bill are unwarranted fears that Muslim immigrants will somehow impose their religion on a Quebec society that not so long ago rejected religious domination by the Roman Catholic church.”
My, my…we do love our adjectives. Outrageous!! Oh my, the breast beating, rending of clothes. “Won’t somebody think of the children!!!” As for, “No one in Quebec is calling for this province to be anything other than secular”? I have to wonder if the author of this piece actually read his/her own work. This is, exactly, what the hysterical minority is demanding. Secular but representing all religions. Secular government demands that no religion be given “special dispensation”. Secular is more than a word, it is an environment free from religion or religious icons, cultural choice in apparel which indicates religion.
“However, what lurk beneath the surface of this bill are unwarranted fears that Muslim immigrants will somehow impose their religion on a Quebec society that not so long ago rejected religious domination by the Roman Catholic church.”
First, the words should be, “is lurking”, not lurk. So, this individual has the ability to see into the hearts and minds of the Quebecois people. Some sort of holier-than-thou Anglo trait? Or just the usual elitism of journalism or reasonable facsimile.
Quebecois are very aware of what happens when religion enters the state. As Quebecois we have learned from our history. Religion has no place in government. Worried about Muslims imposing their religion, but he/she already stated, the Bill also vilifies Jews and Sikhs. I would add that all of this controversy is, in fact, a very small minority imposing their religions on Quebec.
“Quebec prides itself on being welcoming and open, and for the most part it is. This is a vibrant, dynamic, progressive society.”
That’s right. We are. And, we wish to remain a vibrant, dynamic and above all, progressive society. A progressive society is a secular society. A society that not only allows freedom of religion, it permits freedom from religion. Religion has proven, without argument, that it is a regressive facet of any society. And again, the right to believe in some sort of ethereal place and superiority of invisible buddies, is not under attack. Churches, mosques, temples, synagogues are not being closed down. We simply ask that these practices be kept where they belong and not in the public domain.
“But Bill 21 brings darker days. As the result of misguided efforts to address non-existent problems, members of religious minorities, be they native born or immigrants, are being made to feel like second-class citizens. This law is divisive, abusive and unfair.”
No. Bill 21 augers a new age, hopefully, free from religious constraints, the hatred and bigotry, subjugation and abuse as the result of the various religious doctrines littering our society.
There is no problem. If these religious minorities feel that this Bill makes them second class citizens, then they have no one to thank other than media looking for a soapbox. The only division is from those who always look for racism in any decision made by Quebec to secure the future of the province and its people. This bill is not unfair; it applies across the board. In the private sector, most of us sign an employment contract; we signify that we will abide by company/corporate policy. Sometimes those policies include personal attire or body modifications. The same is true for public service. The civil servant is working for Quebec and as Quebec is demanding secularity, then the individual has the same right as someone in the private sector, to refuse the position. There is discrimination for sure, but it is discrimination against Quebec, against Quebecois people and a dismissal of the lessons we, as Quebecois, have learned, through our past.
“And it seems certain to have many negative consequences. If the experience of the never-enacted Charter of Values is any indication, bigots will take it as licence to target hijab-wearing women. Quebec will become a less attractive place to the immigrants whose skills it so badly needs. At least some Muslims, Sikhs and Jews will wonder whether their children’s futures lie elsewhere. In the affected fields, Quebecers will be deprived of the talents of a section of the population.”
Oh, definitely negative consequences. Anyone supporting this bill, or the concept of secular government is, as is so clearly illustrated in this piece, a bigot. If someone feels that a secular government and society will impact their children’s future then, absolutely, Quebec is not a place to be. We value progression, not regression. Quebec will not be deprived of anything. People who value a logical and rational future, based on fact, will remain, will thrive and help us to grow. Those who feel that rooting themselves in superstition and mythology is of paramount importance, will move on. Quebec will continue to grow, regardless of the constant barrage of epithets from those who would see our society regress.
“Premier François Legault calls this bill a compromise; it’s one between bad and worse. And if Legault thinks Bill 21 will allow Quebecers to move on and focus on other subjects, he is apt to be sorely disappointed. It does the precisely the opposite. Now, instead of a baseless concern, we have a real problem to talk about.”
No. He won’t be disappointed. The majority of Quebecois have spoken. The real problem is emanating from “journalists” and media with, sadly, no concept of what a progressive society is, by definition. The real problem is a small minority imposing their “want” over the “need” of society. The real problem would be those who insist on calling anyone with a contrary opinion, “bigot”.
The real problem is the lack of respect for the Quebecois people. Perhaps it is time to separate, to determine our own future as Quebecois.