20 July 2018

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]

Jedwab: Diversity debate: Poll shows sharp divide between Montreal and regions

As politicians spar over whether a woman in a hijab can be a police officer, details from a Léger poll reveal a deep divide between multicultural Montreal and the rest of Quebec on immigration.
“There’s a Montreal vs. Quebec divide. There’s also a divide in Montreal between francophones and non-francophones,” said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies ...

In Greater Montreal, with 4.1 million residents from St-Jérôme to St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, 39 per cent of respondents want to reduce or eliminate immigration, while 41 per cent want to maintain current levels and 18 per cent want to increase it.

In contrast, 58 per cent of respondents in central Quebec — the region most opposed to immigration — say it should be reduced or eliminated.

Jedwab: Scorn for multiculturalism in Quebec yields troubling results


Last week, news broke that the Parti Québécois had quietly tried to block prominent lawyer Tamara Thermitus’s candidacy for the presidency of Quebec’s human rights commission. Unnamed sources suggested that despite her impeccable credentials, her job with the federal government was a liability and, worse, she was suspected of harbouring multiculturalist beliefs.

This bit of backstory should raise more than eyebrows.

It is well known that multiculturalism is verboten among Quebec’s political and chattering classes, regardless of partisan affiliation. However, to have multicult-phobia actually move a political party to reject a qualified candidate (who also happens to be a black woman) should tell us something about how pernicious the current ideology is ...

MtlGz: English, French hold differing views on integration of newcomers: Leger poll

While both hold positive views of immigrants, they are divided on how newcomers should assimilate, according to surveys conducted by Léger   


While a majority of both groups said they held positive views of immigrants, francophones were more likely to respond in the affirmative when asked whether immigrants should give up their customs and traditions, or if the influx of non-Christian immigrants posed a threat to society ...

In the latest survey, titled Multiculturalism versus Interculturalism: Myth vs. Reality, the survey found that 63 per cent of francophones held a positive view of immigrants, as compared to 74 per cent of anglophones. Asked whether immigrants should be “encouraged to give up their customs and traditions and become more like the majority,” francophones were more likely to either strongly or somewhat agree (65 per cent) as compared to anglophones (47 per cent) ...

At the same time, francophones were more likely (58 per cent) than anglophones (40 per cent) to feel that “our society is threatened by the influx of non-Christian immigrants to Canada.”

15 July 2018

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: alert]  
  • non-committal [ant: principled]   
  • victim [ant: survivor]
  • villagers [ant: cosmopolitan]  
  • creative [ant: rational]  
  • proud [ant: assertive].

What are the core values of French society?

Joie de vivre



14 July 2018

CdnPr: Quebec weighing legal options as judge suspends face-covering ban


The Quebec government will wait for its lawyers to study a court decision this week that temporarily suspended a law banning people from covering their faces when receiving or giving a public service before deciding on its next step ...

Section 10 of Quebec’s law on religious neutrality, passed in October 2017, requires everyone to show their faces when receiving or giving a public service ...

Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard ruled Thursday that Section 10 cannot enter into force until it goes through judicial review because of the irreparable harm it will cause Muslim women ...

A judge suspended Section 10 in December 2017 until the government published clear guidelines under which someone could apply for a religious accommodation to the rules ...

The Quebec government published the guidelines in May, and they were set to come into force on July 1 ...

Blanchard ruled the guidelines are not clear enough, and confusion and uncertainty still exists regarding how the accommodation process would be applied ...

[Premier] Couillard wouldn’t concede the law was confusing, instead attacking opposition parties and challenging them to explain how their proposals would stand up to the court test, given they’ve vowed to go even further ...

13 July 2018

MtlGz: Bill 62: Religious accommodation [guidelines] falls to public agencies, Quebec says


QUEBEC — Public organizations across the province will have to designate accommodations officers who will handle requests for religious accommodations under the province’s new state neutrality act ...

Ultimately, if the person seeking an accommodation, such as a day off for religious reasons or to wear a turban or hijab while working as a police officer, [is denied] they are fully entitled to appeal it to the Quebec Human Rights Commission ...

Under questioning [the justice minister] agreed the guidelines means a school board in Gaspé could have different rules from one in Montreal ...

• The request must result from the application of Section 10 of the Quebec Charter of Rights and freedoms [q.v.]
• The request must be serious, in other words based on a sincere belief that is part of the applicant’s faith or religious belief.
• The request must be consistent with the right to equality of women and men and the right of every person to be treated without discrimination based on race, colour, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition and handicap.
• The accommodation requested must be consistent with the principle of state neutrality.
• The accommodation must be reasonable in that it does not impose undue hardship with regard to the rights of others, public health and safety.
• The person making the request must have cooperated in seeking a solution that meets the criterion of reasonableness.

Jedwab: For many Quebecers, this is not 'our way of being Canadian'

Any constitutional recognition of Quebec as a nation means denying Canada's own nationhood, Jack Jedwab writes.


Dialogue between Quebecers and other Canadians is always welcome. Beyond simply celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada, there is value in reflection and discussion about our national identity and where the country is headed.
Such dialogue should not be tied to any eventual change to Canada’s Constitution. Regrettably, though, that is what the government of Quebec effectively is proposing in its recently issued policy statement titled Quebecers, Our Way of Being Canadian.
It’s true that much has changed since the last attempt to amend the Constitution. Younger generations of Canadians haven’t lived through the divisive referendums or the tumultuous constitutional negotiations of the 1980s and ’90s. But they can surely read about them in history books or consult parents or friends ...

12 July 2018

CBC: New guidelines not enough to fix Quebec's niqab ban, lawyer says


Quebec's new guidelines on religious accommodation have failed to ease concerns about whether Muslim women will be able to access public services — such as riding a bus — if they wear a niqab or burka.
The guidelines were released earlier this week, and are meant to become part of a law that requires Quebecers to leave their faces uncovered in order to give or receive public services.
They state that exemptions to the law can only be granted on religious grounds if the demand is serious, doesn't violate the rights of others and doesn't impose "undue hardships." ...

That could require a woman wearing a niqab to make numerous requests in order to take care of simple everyday tasks, everything from getting a driver's licence to taking public transit to borrowing a library book, said Catherine McKenzie, a lawyer at the Montreal firm IMK ...

She wants to know if accommodation requests will have to be decided within fixed timelines ...

And secondly, whether people will be able to access a public service pending a decision from the providing body.