20 September 2017

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.

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