10 January 2019

Quebec's Human Rights Commission is too white and too French: Fo Niemi


The head of a rights advocacy centre on racial discrimination is sounding the alarm about what he calls a lack of diversity in Quebec’s Human Rights Commission.
Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, said Tuesday he was concerned about the resignation of the last commissioner whose mother tongue is English.
Niemi said he recently learned of the actions of Richard Janda, who sent a letter of resignation to the National Assembly several weeks ago. He was the third commissioner to resign so far this year, Niemi said. The letter has not been made public, and Janda has so far declined to comment on the reasons for his departure. However, that leaves the commission with three vacant seats, out of five, for matters relating to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the two remaining are both white francophones, according to Niemi.

English community will fight on for school boards despite Legault's warning


The English-speaking community has no intention of dropping its battle to protect the existing anglophone school board system.
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) — which includes almost 60 English-language community organizations across Quebec — said in a statement Friday it “has absolutely no intention” of heeding Premier François Legault’s advice to give up because they will lose in court.

“We disagree most emphatically,” QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers said in a statement. “The Supreme Court’s ruling in Mahe versus Alberta was crystal clear.

06 January 2019

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 ...

Tories would not challenge proposed Quebec ban on religious symbols in the workplace, MP says


The federal Conservatives say they would not stand in the way of the Quebec government if it moves to bar some provincial employees from wearing religious symbols at work.
In an interview, Conservative MP Gérard Deltell said his party accepts the incoming Coalition Avenir Québec government’s right to introduce legislation on the matter, would not oppose the possible use of the notwithstanding clause to make it Charter compliant and would not join a legal challenge of the legislation.
The Conservative position differs from that of the Liberals and NDP. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not believe the Quebec government should be legislating on the issue of religious symbols and opposes in this case the possible use of the notwithstanding clause. The federal NDP also objects to attempts to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in this case.

04 January 2019

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.”

The hypocrisy of Québec’s move to ban religious dress

The newly elected government of Québec has indicated that it intends to ban civil servants in positions of authority (including police officers and judges) from wearing religious dress or symbols such as the turban or hijab.
The new government views the wearing of religious dress by civil servants not as an act of personal religious or cultural expression but instead as a political act — an act of the state — that is incompatible with the requirement that the state remain neutral in matters of religion.
The ban will have the effect of excluding the members of certain religious minorities from civil service jobs. And it will, almost certainly, breach religious freedom under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


17 December 2018

William Johnson: The legal status of English in Quebec

During the 1995 referendum, I maintained in The Gazette that a referendum did not confer a right to secede unilaterally and that, if Canada was divisible, Quebec was also divisible. That shocked even good anglos but my position was confirmed in August 1998 by the Supreme Court of Canada ...
In their analysis of Bill 22, Frank Scott, John Humphrey (who had drafted the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights), Irwin Cotler and four others wrote: "Section 1 which provides that French is 'the official language of the province of Quebec' is misleading in that it suggests that English is not also an official language in Quebec, which it is by virtue of Section 133 of the BNA Act and the federal Official Languages Act."
These eminent legal authorities asserted: "To promote the two cultures on the basis of equality and to allow them freedom for their natural growth and development is, we believe, the only proper policy for Quebec and for Canada, and the only one consistent with contemporary international standards of human rights."
In his initial draft of what became Bill 101, Camille Laurin had this in Section 1: "Le français est la seule langue officielle du Québec." But he was persuaded to drop seule when he was told that it would certainly be struck down by the courts, thus confirming that English was also an official language of Quebec ..1

    Supporters of public faith in Canada are young, educated, Liberal and 'quite dug in': pollster

    This puts the lie to the impression that support for public religiosity in areas like health care, social services and education is driven by conservative ‘holy rollers’


    Proponents of religious faith in public life in Canada tend to be younger, more highly educated, and more likely to have voted Liberal, according to a new survey.
    The counter-intuitive discovery puts the lie to the common impression that support for public religiosity in areas like health care, social services and education is driven by evangelical church goers and deeply observant, older, conservative “holy rollers,” said Angus Reid, chairman of Angus Reid Institute.
    “What we find is exactly the opposite,” Reid said.

    09 December 2018

    William Johnson: The myth of disestablished English - The Métropolitain

    The myth of disestablished English - The Métropolitain

    Even as English is again under attack at the National Assembly during the hearings on Bill 14, it is perhaps true that most Quebecers have been misled into believing that English is not also an official language of Quebec. But that’s entirely unfounded in fact or in law. English has been an official language of Quebec ever since 1763. Every law passed since then has been passed in English. Every law to be passed by the current Parti Québécois government will be passed in English as well as French, and the English text will be official, just as will be the French. 
    English is part of Quebec’s very identity. That part is largely what makes the difference between Quebec and other former colonies of France, such as Guadeloupe, Martinique, Louisiana, Haiti, Vietnam or Algeria. 
    So how has the myth been propagated that French is the “sole official language?”  It began with the trickery of Robert Bourassa’s Bill 22 of 1974, the so-called “Official Language Act, which proclaimed – in English as well as French: “French is the official language of the province of Québec.” ...

    Quebec has no plans to change history curriculum despite scathing review


    Quebec's education minister says he has no plans to change the high-school history curriculum — and order a batch of new textbooks — despite a review that found it failed to reflect the province's diversity.
    Jean-François Roberge said the current textbooks have already been revised after "many consultations with the Indigenous and anglophone community."
    "Of course, history will always be subject to debate. I think it's normal to not have unanimity on that matter," he said.