19 October 2017

Macfarlane: Quebec law banning niqab and burka is neither neutral nor constitutional

http://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/quebec-neutrality-law-1.4360942

Much like past proposals by the former Parti Québécois government under Pauline Marois, the law here is defended on the grounds of Quebec secularism, but it is a perversion of secularism, which would normally see the state refuse to adopt or sanction particular religions over others. Instead, the version of secularism to which Quebec's political class seems to adhere is simply anti-religion, and more specifically, religions not reflected by the giant cross hanging in the National Assembly.

18 October 2017

Macfarlane: The NDP is wrong on secession, the Clarity Act and the Supreme Court

http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/the-ndp-is-wrong-on-secession-the-clarity-act-and-the-supreme-court/

“The Reference requires us to consider whether Quebec has a right to unilateral secession. Those who support the existence of such a right found their case primarily on the principle of democracy. Democracy, however, means more than simple majority rule.”
This was a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada in 1998’s reference decision on Quebec secession. The Court went on to declare that only “a clear majority on a clear question” could compel the federal government and the other provinces to engage in negotiations with Quebec on the matter.
It is true the Court did not specify what would actually count as a “clear majority” (55 percent? 60? 67?). That, the justices said, was a matter for the political actors to decide. What is crystal clear, for anyone with the scarcest smidgen of reading comprehension, is that a “clear majority” is something more than 50 percent plus one. The highest court in the land has made an explicit distinction between “simple majority” and “clear majority.”



Bill 62 requires anyone giving and receiving public services to do so with their faces uncovered

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-niqab-burka-bill-62-1.4360121

Julius Grey, a prominent Montreal-based civil rights lawyer, called it a "terrible law." 

"I think it's an unconstitutional law as well. It's virtually certain to be set aside whole or … possibly in part," he said.  

16 October 2017

Canadian Press: New Democrat MPs split over niqab


http://metronews.ca/news/canada/1312102/new-democrat-mps-split-over-niqab/

However, Mulcair did not object last spring when newly elected Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he intended to introduce a bill that would ensure civil servants who deal directly with the public do not cover their faces.
At the time, Mulcair said the proposal was “totally respectful of freedoms.” Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney called it “totally reasonable,” although there is no similar restriction on federal public servants.

R v NS (SCC 2012): Niqab Rules Balance Religious Freedom and the Right to a Fair Trial - The Centre for Constitutional Studies

R v NS (2012): Niqab Rules Balance Religious Freedom and the Right to a Fair Trial - The Centre for Constitutional Studies



In R v NS,[1] decided on December 20, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on whether a witness could be allowed to wear a niqab[2] for
religious reasons while testifying in a criminal trial. The Court
determined that this issue would be examined on a case-by-case basis.
The following featured court ruling examines the Court’s four-part test
meant to balance the witness’ right to religious freedom (section 2(a)
of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter)) and the accused’s right to a fair trial (sections 7 and 11(d) of the Charter).[3]

If an accommodation is possible, do the salutary effects of accommodating the claimant outweigh the deleterious effects of doing so?[17]



CCLA: Quebec [Anti-niqab] Bill 62 Infringes on Freedom of Religion

https://ccla.org/quebec-bill-62-infringes-on-freedom-of-religion/

CCLA has submitted a brief to the Quebec National Assembly’s Committee on Institutions as part of its special consultation and public hearings on Bill 62. Bill 62 — An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests in certain bodies — is a deeply troubling law that would infringe basic rights and cannot be justified in a free and democratic society.

At the core of Bill 62 is section 9, which prohibits public employees and recipients of public services from wearing face coverings, such as the niqab, unless they receive special accommodation via a flawed religious accommodation process. We have argued that the bill unfairly targets individuals who wear religious face coverings and thereby infringes freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and the right to be free from discrimination. We have also pointed out inconsistencies in the proposed law – such as its special protection for “the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that testify to its history” – which exacerbate the bill’s purpose or effect of unfairly targeting individuals from minority religious, ethnic, and racial groups and, in particular, women from these groups.

CCLA is urging the Quebec government not to move forward with the bill.

15 October 2017

Notes: NDP "Unity" Act v. Clarity Act

The NDP's Unity Act, a private member's bill drafted by the party, spells out that a bare majority of 50% plus one vote would be sufficient to trigger negotiations on Quebec’s secession, provided that the referendum question was clear and that there were no “determinative irregularities” in the vote and in the 'spending limits'.

The bill says that the Quebec National Assembly — by definition, directed by a Parti Québécois government — would have the right to table the question. 

The government of Canada would be able to object, but would have to take those objections to the Quebec Court of Appeal.
The Clarity Act, based on a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada,  specifies that the federal government will not negotiate secession unless a clear majority votes Yes on a clear referendum question. 
It does not specify what constitutes a clear majority, allowing parliamentarians to take into account the eligible voter turnout rate, valid votes cast in favour of separation, voting irregularities, and other factors, before concluding whether the result is sufficiently unambiguous to warrant divorce talks.
SOURCES:


13 October 2017

SCC: Freedom of religion under the Canadian Charter(s) of (Human) Rights and Freedoms

Larry Miller and the case against the niqab - Macleans.ca



Freedom of religion under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) consists of the freedom to undertake practices and harbour beliefs, having a nexus with religion, in which an individual demonstrates he or she sincerely believes or is sincerely undertaking in order to connect with the divine or as a function of his or her spiritual faith, irrespective of whether a particular practice or belief is required by official religious dogma or is in conformity with the position of religious officials. This understanding is consistent with a personal or subjective understanding of freedom of religion.  As such, a claimant need not show some sort of objective religious obligation, requirement or precept to invoke freedom of religion. It is the religious or spiritual essence of an action, not any mandatory or perceived‑as‑mandatory nature of its observance, that attracts protection.  
The State is in no position to be, nor should it become, the arbiter of religious dogma. Although a court is not qualified to judicially interpret and determine the content of a subjective understanding of a religious requirement, it is qualified to inquire into the sincerity of a claimant’s belief, where sincerity is in fact at issue. Sincerity of belief simply implies an honesty of belief and the court’s role is to ensure that a presently asserted belief is in good faith, neither fictitious nor capricious, and that it is not an artifice. Assessment of sincerity is a question of fact that can be based on criteria including the credibility of a claimant’s testimony, as well as an analysis of whether the alleged belief is consistent with his or her other current religious practices.  
Since the focus of the inquiry is not on what others view the claimant’s religious obligations as being, but what the claimant views these personal religious “obligations” to be, it is inappropriate to require expert opinions. It is also inappropriate for courts rigorously to study and focus on the past practices of claimants in order to determine whether their current beliefs are sincerely held. Because of the vacillating nature of religious belief, a court’s inquiry into sincerity, if anything, should focus not on past practice or past belief but on a person’s belief at the time of the alleged interference with his or her religious freedom.




Léger: Cracking the Quebec Code: An insider’s guide to understanding Quebec's 7 core values

Jean-Marc Léger has written a book that only a Quebecker could write.  The famed pollster says so himself – and the bold title he’s chosen gives away the reason.
Cracking the Quebec Code: The 7 keys to understanding Quebecers, makes the kind of tantalizing promises for itself that a reader might expect from a marketing guru like Mr. Léger. “For the first time,” a foreword boasts, “English Canadians will have access to Quebeckers’ best-kept secrets.” Here, finally, is a “skeleton key” to the “question of Québécitude.”
Co-written with journalist Pierre Duhamel and business scholar Jacques Nantel, the book uses survey data, interviews with provincial leaders and a novel approach measuring reactions to hundreds of key words to come up with seven traits that define the Quebec character:
  • joie de vivre [ant: sobriety]  
  • easygoing [ant: sincere]  
  • non-committal [ant: principled]   
  • victim [ant: victor] 
  • villagers [ant: cosmopolitan]  
  • creative [ant: reasonable]  
  • proud [ant: assertive].

12 October 2017

Anglo rights: what is to be done

we first learn English at home

we master it in THE ANGLO SCHOOLS