23 September 2017

William Johnson: What counts as history in Quebec

http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/william-johnson-what-counts-as-history-in-Quebec

What these eminences stated in 1992, the Supreme Court of Canada would also state in 1998. But Quebec’s textbook, dated 2009, distorts history and law to legitimate unconditional secession.

Recalling Lévesque’s 1980 referendum, the textbook omits the fact that a veto was promised to the rest of Canada. 

Then, revisiting the 1995 referendum, it ignores the fact that Parizeau intended, with the merest majority, to overthrow the Constitution, even though the question was confusing and, as polls showed, most voters assumed that Quebec would remain in Canada. 

Then, Stéphane Dion’s Clarity Act of 2000, setting federal conditions for negotiating secession, is discussed with no reference to the Supreme Court’s decision on the conditions for secession. 

And there are more examples of bias. This is history?

Don Macpherson: What's wrong with Quebec's proposed new electoral map

http://montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/don-macpherson-whats-wrong-with-quebecs-proposed-new-electoral-map

You can’t please everybody, as we are reminded every time Quebec’s electoral representation commission proposes to re-draw the boundaries of the 125 provincial ridings to reflect changes in the distribution of the population.
This time around, the loudest complaints have come from Québec solidaire MNA Manon Massé.
Massé has been leading what so far has been an unsuccessful legal as well as political campaign to preserve her riding of Sainte-Marie—Saint-Jacques in south-central Montreal.

22 September 2017

Chris Selley: Charles Taylor … niqab defender?

http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/chris-selley-charles-taylor-niqab-defender

Nor was there anything disreputable about Messrs. Bouchard and Taylor’s undertaking, which was to travel around the province and listen to Quebecers of all stripes vent their various cultural angsts, from the very theoretically legitimate (there’s a reason people would object to cops wearing niqabs) to the thoroughly bizarre (the mortal threat of unlabelled halal chicken). You can’t sneer such worries away, much as urban elites try. The Bouchard-Taylor report is in the main a sober call for calm and unity, an assurance that Quebec is not reasonably accommodating itself toward theocracy. And while forcing agents of the state to wear a non-religious uniform might run afoul of the Supreme Court — which settled turban-wearing cops a quarter-century ago — it’s not inherently outrageous ... 
But they must have known, from their observations and their travels, that Quebecers tend to be less resolutely secular than preferentially secular — particularly suspicious of Islam and particularly respectful of ostensibly “cultural” Christianity. Pauline Marois epitomized a very popular version of secularism that leaves in place a crucifix hanging over the speaker’s chair in the National Assembly that was installed in 1936 by noted non-secularist premier Maurice Duplessis. Ms. Marois’ “values charter” at least had the decency to target all religious symbols in the public sector; now Premier Philippe Couillard, channelling Mr. Harper, proposes to ban both giving and receiving public services with a covered face because “certain principles have to be clarified;” because “I think this is a line in the sand for many Quebecers and Canadians.” How convenient that it only affects the world’s least popular religion! ...
Of course, leaving those insecurities alone more or less entirely worked out rather well for Canadian politics for a very long time. That’s a pretty good option, too.

‘We are beginning to overcome the divisions’ in Quebec, Charles Taylor says of reasonable accommodation | National Post

‘We are beginning to overcome the divisions’ in Quebec, Charles Taylor says of reasonable accommodation | National Post



Nine years after signing a report that called for a ban on religious symbols worn by public servants in positions of “coercive” authority -— police and judges — McGill philosophy professor Charles Taylor says times have changed and Quebecers have changed along with them, and that he no longer endorses the recommendation.
In an open letter published Tuesday in La Presse, Taylor, who with sociologist Gérard Bouchard co-chaired a commission on reasonable accommodation of cultural communities in Quebec, wrote that his support for the measure was never more than qualified, but added that at the time, “to not impose these restrictions would have shocked public opinion to the point of jeopardizing our proposal for open secularism.”
But Taylor writes now that “things have very much changed since then, and that’s more than just my opinion.”

20 September 2017

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].

Majority of Quebecers want ban on religious symbols [for positions of authority]: poll

The Repère communications firm polled 750 Quebecers in all regions of Quebec, concluding 63 per cent of respondents agree with the old Bouchard-Taylor formula on religious symbols: persons in positions of authority, judges, police and prison guards should not be allowed to wear them. (36.8 per cent don’t agree.)

http://montrealgazette.com/news/quebec/majority-of-quebecers-want-ban-on-religious-symbols-poll

QUEBEC — The Parti Québécois tried to shame Premier Philippe Couillard Wednesday, releasing results of a poll showing 60 per cent of Quebecers — including many Liberals — approve of a ban on religious symbols despite Couillard’s opposition to the idea.

But Couillard fired back that it would be a grave error in democracy for a government to make policy, especially on matters affecting minorities, based on polling results. The PQ did just that with its “infamous” charter of values and that was a disaster, he said.

 

Angus Reid: Could our national leader be: _____? Most in Canada, U.S. say they’d vote for more diverse candidates - Angus Reid Institute

Could our national leader be: _____? Most in Canada, U.S. say they’d vote for more diverse candidates - Angus Reid Institute



Could the PM be monolingual? English Canada says ‘yes,’ Quebec says ‘non


Visible religious symbols have long been a source of contention in Quebec, which perhaps explains why two-in-three say they could not support a party led by a person who wears a religious head-covering:






Jedwab: The worrisome tone of Quebec’s [Charter of Values] rhetoric

The worrisome tone of Quebece’s values rhetoric - The Globe and Mail

If the Quebec government has its way, it a new class of offenders will be introduced into society. They might be called values violators. The Nov. 7 tabling of the Charter of Quebec Values of Secularism (Bill 60) confirmed the potential list of violators includes doctors that wear kippas, nurses wearing a cross, daycare workers with hijabs and university professors with turbans.

The loss of employment is the ultimate punishment such offenders face if they don’t remove their threatening symbols. The genius of the Parti Québécois government’s proposed bill outlining Quebec’s so-called values is that it puts the burden for enforcement on those institutions that harbour potential values violators. This is surely a relief to the province’s law enforcement agents. But in the unlikely event this draconian bill ever becomes law, the potentially affected hospitals, universities, daycares and other potentially affected institutions would face a serious conundrum. Not implementing the law, they might assume, will result in cuts to their finances.

Quebec’s Muslims, Jews and Sikhs are the most obvious targets for potential values violations. Many members of these communities are extremely concerned not only about the consequences of the proposed legislation but are also worried with good reason about the very unhealthy tone of the values rhetoric. As revealed in an October Leger Marketing poll, the most fervent supports of the values bill are favorable to an extension of the ban on religious symbols beyond public institutions.

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.

[PQ's Charter of "Secular" Values] is clearly unconstitutional, but could still become law - The Globe and Mail

Quebec’s secular charter is clearly unconstitutional, but could still become law - The Globe and Mail


By contrast, the PQ argues that preventing public servants from exercising religious freedom at work is part of a broader secularism or “state neutrality” with respect to the state’s role vis-a-vis religion. This is a perversion of the principle of the separation of church and state, which is normally regarded as preventing government from imposing particular religious doctrines on citizens (such as requiring children to say the Lord’s Prayer at school). Instead, the PQ government proposes to strip citizens of any overt religious identification when working in the public sector. That is a far cry from a “neutral” state objective.

As an entirely symbolic enterprise, the legislation should fail on the first step of the judicial test for determining whether an infringement of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is “reasonable in a democratic society,” which states that the government requires a substantial and pressing objective when it seeks to limit a right. In a case on prisoner voting rights, the Supreme Court majority made it clear that objectives which are symbolic in nature are “problematic” and noted that a legislature “cannot use lofty objectives to shield legislation from Charter scrutiny.”