The province of Quebec is unique in Canada; many non Canadians know that Canada has two official languages – French and English – how many people know Quebec has it’s own legal system based on French civil law? It’s complicated; for anyone wanting to learn more the link below gives a good overview,
Quebec values is a term given to a bill expected to be introduced in parliament this fall by the Parti Quebecois – aimed at regulating religious symbols. If you worked at a government office, police station, public school or daycare, university or hospital you would be forbidden to wear a burqa, turban, hijab, yarmulke, or cross. Some exceptions would be allowed under the amendment to the Quebec Charter of Rights; a crucifix in the National Assembly would be considered an “icon of cultural heritage”, as it was a gift from the Catholic Church in 1936. The Marois government is also considering an exemption for staff at institutions such as hospitals, with a clause specifying the exemption be reviewed every 5 years.
Bernard Drainville, Quebec’s Minister of Democratic Values is the driving force behind the bill he originally called the Charter of Secular Values. The debate was sparked in 2007 when the Bouchard-Taylor Commission took a look at “religious accommodation” in Quebec. Last week Charles Taylor spoke in a televised interview saying the bill far exceeds recommendations of the commission.An excerpt of Taylor’s comments from a CTV news story….
“They are proposing such strict restrictions that it will create problems… People will feel rejected by Quebec,” said Taylor.
He said that widespread bans against religious icons would end up creating ghettos in Quebec.
“It tells a category of citizens ‘you are excluded, we don’t want you here.’ It doesn’t make any sense.”
While conducting their commission, professor Taylor and historian Gerard Bouchard found, early on, that Quebecers were almost paranoid with fear that Muslims were taking over society. Taylor and Bouchard found those fears were not rooted in reality, and said that Quebec should work to integrate all citizens.
“The rules we proposed were very clear: institutions are neutral, individuals are free,” said Taylor. ridiculous –
I’m still pondering “Quebec Values” – I believe it’s a step in the right direction, perhaps being taken a little too far. Asking a woman to remove her hijab when entering a government building seems a bit much. Then I remember I live in a country whose federal employees are forbidden to say “bless you” after someone sneezes – I’ll take attempts to extract church from state, however feeble or silly over the Tea Party any day.