Quebec Values

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.

3 thoughts on “Quebec Values

  1. Ponder indeed…

    I wonder sometimes about the world we have entered by accident.

    When well meaning citizens were all in favor of inclusion and world economy and immigration no one ever thought to extend the implications and complications that welcoming everyone would have upon society. And as civil wars around the world seem to attest, people don’t always want to be tolerant.

    We’ve got ourselves into a predicament from which we have no idea how to extricate ourselves — both you Canadians and us ‘Americans’ — which is to say citizens of the U.S. as if you Canadians weren’t residents of the same continent.

    I was curious during the debate in France about the wearing of Hajib and Burka, etc., that a significant part of their rhetoric (whether the true motivation or not is irrelevant) was over the issue that veiled faces discriminated against the unvailed — it gave them secrecy and obscurity which the non-veiled did not possess. An interesting line of reasoning. But also a telling comment on the way in which fear inveigles it’s way into the brain.

    Personally, I think there is way too much sensitivity about way too many things. Yesterday I read a blog about a teacher who got all bent out of shape because a single student out of 160 completing a questionnaire about how the teacher would be a better teacher said she could do better by ‘teaching naked.’ She lost sight of all the 159 other comments and obsessed about that one — to me that’s ignoring the purpose behind an anonymous questionnaire — and a failure to realize that not all humans are equally sensitive to one another. And this morning I read, and actually reposted I have a dream – The Sandcastle because the author made a point that hit me over the head: some people have spent so long looking at the the differences between people that they can no longer see the similarities — that, in my humble opinion is more tragic than many of the current forms of discrimination.

    I think we are all focussing too much on what divides us and no longer thinking about what unites us. And such a nation, or society cannot long stand (in species terms, not individual)

    A retired Photographer looks at life
    Life Unscripted

    • I taken a day to think about your comment. You are right – always talking of division will leave a sour taste in the mouth of progress.At least that’s how I feel on one hand – on the other I questioned my writing posts about differences and concluded my opinion is intended as an alternative. Either that or a futile attempt to illustrate that universal health care doesn’t suck one to a Communist purgatory 🙂 Sigh and hugs….

  2. Turbans don’t bother me nor do head scarves or ethnic clothing but a veil covering the face goes a psychological step too far. I don’t want to see this in this country and I don’t feel I need to explain or justify why I feel this way. There’s only so much change anyone should be expected to accept.

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