23 October 2015

'Covering' ourselves in truly liberal democracy

As University of Toronto Prof. Clifford Orwin wrote in the Globe and Mail about Mr. Harper's comments about the niqab: "Liberal democracy isn't about compulsory baring of ourselves (or our faces) to others. Nor is it about consorting as one big 'family.' It's about reconciling majority rule with the right of each of us to lead a life of our own, in religious matters as elsewhere."

William Johnson: Is the time ripe for Quebec to recognize the Constitution?


Now that Quebecers have given Trudeau a plurality of their votes and a majority of the province’s seats, surely he and Couillard can cut the Gordian knot by rallying the premiers for a constitutional amendment that proclaims: “Quebec is a distinct society within Canada, as was recognized by the Fathers of Confederation, by the 1867 Constitution Act, and by the Supreme Court of Canada in numerous decisions since.”

19 October 2015

Jewish General Hospital FAQs

What is their mission?
Acute care teaching

What is their affiliation?
The McGill University Hospital Centre (network)

Public or private?

Bilingual or not?
Bilingual, functionally and by status

Who runs it (Board of Directors)?
The "Jewish community"

04 October 2015

"Bourassa destroyed anglos as political force"


As a person who was involved in Alliance Quebec from its inception to its decline, I feel I am qualified to add to the discussion about the English-speaking MNAs and their defence or lack of it of the anglo population.

I notice that most correspondents do not mention Robert Bourassa and his part in the suppression of the English language. When I was first active in Alliance, the members hoped and expected with good reason that when the Liberals came to power the language policies of the Parti Québécois would be modified.

I remember when I was first elected to the Alliance council that President Michael Goldbloom asked us what we wanted from the new government. We agreed we favoured compulsory bilingualism on signs. Goldbloom was very insistent that while French should have primacy, "We do not want differences in size," and we laughed at the idea of inspectors running around with tape measures making sure the English was not too big ...

29 September 2015

William Johnson: Lysiane Gagnon stands as witness to Quebec's two referendums

Gagnon also denounced those who insisted that secession must abide by the Constitution. She said they “caused a debate that is essentially political to be diverted to the sterile ground of abstract legality.” In her last column before the 1995 referendum, she advised: “Both options are equally honourable.”

“Je ne me souviens pas” might be Canada’s motto. Thomas Mulcair repeats that, for the 1980 and 1995 referendums, 50 per cent plus one for Oui was the threshold for Quebec’s secession. “Those were the rules in 1980 and 1995,” he said in Friday’s debate. False, but it’s still widely believed by many Quebecers, including some people who should know better ...

Her 52-page essay, followed by a collection of her columns from the 1995 referendum cycle, demonstrates that Quebec is caught in a cultural and political bind. Its intelligentsia largely subscribes to Quebec’s independence, but most Québécois, while easily roused to fury at perceived contempt from les Anglais, remain attached to Canada ...

Whatever was said by some Quebec politicians, the law governing both referendums set no standard for a victory. The white paper announcing that law repudiated any such standard. The impact of a referendum, it said, was “the political value of the referendum process.” Because a referendum had no executive effect on laws or the Constitution, it was pointless to specify a threshold of victory: “This consultative character of referendums means it would serve no purpose to include in the law special clauses with respect to the majority required or to the required level of participation.”

23 September 2015

William Johnson: Statesmanship at last

Statesmanship at last

 ... the news filtered out that the federal government had, Wednesday, intervened in a court challenge launched by private citizens against Bill 99, passed by former premier Lucien Bouchard, decreeing that Quebec can secede at will, its present territory intact, with just 50 per cent of the votes plus one, in a referendum where Quebec alone sets the rules. 
As Maclean’s columnist Paul Wells revealed, the federal government argues in a submission to Quebec Superior Court that Bill 99 is unconstitutional. As the news spread, all of Quebec’s political party leaders circled the wagons, indignantly defending the indefensible ... 
As premier, Charest defended Bill 99 before Quebec Superior Court when it was challenged by former Equality Party leader Keith Henderson, McGill law professor Stephen Scott and lawyer Brent Tyler. Bill 99 manifestly repudiated the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling, in the secession reference, that Quebec could only secede legally via an amendment to the Constitution, itself requiring the consent of Parliament and at least seven provinces ...

Jeffrey Simpson re: Thomas Mulcair's Quebec nationalism questionable

Similarly, Mr. Mulcair has driven the party into a very Quebec nationalistic position on language, whereby Quebec's Bill 101 would take precedence over the Official Languages Act for federal institutions in Quebec. This position, similar to the one taken by the Parti Québécois and Bloc Québécois, will undoubtedly please Quebec secessionists and strong nationalists, but it does not jibe with the NDP's stated policy of support for the Official Languages Act.

William Johnson: Independence referendum? Scotland has it right


The referendum on independence to be held by Scotland in 2014 differs dramatically from the two referendums Quebec held in 1980 and 1995. The issue in Scotland will be clear: independence. Equally clear will be the referendum question, just 10 words long: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”

In 1980, Quebec asked a question that ran to 109 words, but still left the outcome uncertain and confused. The question began: “The Government of Quebec has made public its proposal to negotiate a new agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations.” Who could object to such an agreement? There followed many words on sovereignty and association. Then the question concluded on this promise: “No change in political status resulting from these negotiations will be effected without approval by the people through another referendum; on these terms, do you give the Government of Quebec the mandate to negotiate the proposed agreement between Quebec and Canada?”
The 1995 referendum question would be shorter – 43 words, but still tendentious. It stressed “partnership” and “agreement,” not secession or independence: “Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Quebec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?”

Bloc makes life awkward for NDP


The Bloc Quebecois is trying to put its New Democratic Party rivals on the hot seat.
The Bloc, which was decimated by the NDP in Quebec in the last federal election, apparently plans to use an attack on the Clarity Act to create tensions within the NDP.
Bloc Leader Daniel Paille won't say what's in the proposed legislation, which will be tabled Friday, but insists Ottawa has no business making any decisions affecting Quebec's future.


Tim Hortons'‏ bilingual service. Or not.

Hello ...
Thank you for your email inquiry.
Although a fair number of our Québec restaurants do already have bilingual menuboards, the ultimate decision to have both languages represented is left to the discretion of each individual Franchise Owner. This would explain why you may be visiting some locations that only have French menu boards. Having said this, it is our strong recommendation to all the QC restaurants that they do post bilingual menuboards in accordance with the standards being enforced by the "Office de la langue française".
In closing, I will forward your comments that you feel we should follow Second Cup's lead and make it a mandatory policy in all our QC restaurants. Unfortunately, we would not be able to confirm whether this policy will ever be adopted.

Have a great day!
The TDL Group Corp.
Guest Services Representative
Toll Free: 1-888-601-1616

Mulcair Grilled On Quebec Secession Days Before French Debate

Mulcair Grilled On Quebec Secession Days Before French Debate

The NDP's policy on Quebec secession is "in absolute defiance of the terms of the Constitution of Canada," said committee member Stephen Scott, a retired constitutional law professor.

OTTAWA — The man who launched a legal challenge to Quebec's law on
unilateral secession is posing some questions for Tom Mulcair that could
prove awkward for the NDP leader.

Keith Henderson wants to know
if an NDP government would continue to intervene in support of his court
challenge to Bill 99, a 1999 provincial law which asserts that
Quebecers alone have the right to democratically determine their own
future, without interference from the rest of Canada.

He's also
asking Mulcair to clarify if he believes aboriginal people and other
"loyal Canadians" could separate from Quebec if the province were to
secede from Canada and whether he believes an independent Quebec would
have to pay for its share of the federal debt and compensation for
federal assets in the province.

20 September 2015

Boilerplate Bilingual Signage Submission Letter

Dear Sir or Madam,

It is known that people are complaining about your disrespect for non-Francophone clientele, particularly at your XXX store in XXX Montreal as well as at your XXX store. Non-Francophones are being ignored and treated as second-class customers.

As you are aware, you have the legal right (according to the Quebec Charter of the French Language) to have English signage in your stores, as long as French is predominant.   You should respect the Charter and all your clientele as well. You have acquiesced to the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (and previously to the Office de la Langue Française) for close to 40 years; it is time for a change.

It would make good business sense to have your signage visible in both French and English.  Those who find bilingual signage an 'irritant' are hardline national-sovereignists, a great minority in Quebec.

You may also wish to tell your staff that they do not have to give the Anglophone/Allophone community a lesson in geography. We know we live in Quebec, so having some of your staff tell customers that <> is really not necessary nor welcome.

Respectfully yours,

17 August 2015

William Johnson: Parties continue to play politics with unity | National Post

William Johnson: Parties continue to play politics with unity | National Post

'[Mulcair] said: “Cette offre politique demeure au cœur de notre
approche auprès des Québécois,” this political offer remains at the
heart of our approach to Quebecers. So clearly the NDP’s doctrine on
secession is not obsolete or merely marginal. It is at the heart of the
Faustian bargain that Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair proposed to
Quebecers: vote for us instead of the Bloc Québécois and we will deliver
in return a guarantee that Quebecers can secede unconditionally if that
is what they want.'

15 August 2015

Service in English is not a legal right in Quebec.

Michael Bergman, a lawyer who specializes in Quebec language laws, confirmed service in English is not a legal right.“Contrary to what I think many anglophone Quebecers believe, they have no right at all to receive a response in English. It is strictly a courtesy,” he said.
The language charter specifies if a citizen communicates to the government in a language other than French, it “may respond in that other language. But it doesn’t say that they must,” Bergman said.
“There is no constitutionally protected right for an anglophone to receive communications from the Quebec government or its bureaucracy,” he said.
The only areas where the right to speak English is constitutionally enshrined are the National Assembly and the courts, Bergman said.

13 August 2015


 Peter McKenna of The Chronicle Herald writes: “On the issue of any unilateral declaration of independence, the law is succinct: ‘Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that there is no right, under international law or under the Constitution of Canada, for the National Assembly, legislature or government of Quebec to effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally.’  It goes on to state categorically: ‘Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that, in Canada, the secession of a province, to be lawful, would require an amendment to the Constitution of Canada, that such an amendment would perforce require negotiations in relation to secession involving at least the governments of all of the provinces and the government of Canada.’ … Since provincial consent for a constitutional amendment codifying Quebec’s right to secession is highly unlikely, any future PQ government could only secede unilaterally by, in effect, breaking the law or through unconstitutional means.”

10 August 2015

William Johnson: A return to Meech Lake’s constitutional fairy tales


So Quebec provincial Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard wants to lead us back to the bogs and quicksands of Meech Lake. Non merci.
Couillard, like Robert Bourassa before him, thinks blackmail will serve Quebec’s ends. On Saturday, in concluding a party meeting, Couillard promised: “A [Quebec] government that I lead would not participate in a conference dealing with Senate reform until that agenda contains explicitly the recognition and the discussion of the five historic conditions of Quebec.”
The five constitutional amendments of the 1987 Meech Lake accord included the recognition of Quebec as a “distinct society,” with that distinctiveness to be promoted by the Quebec government. It offered Quebec new powers over the selection of immigrants and appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada, allowed Quebec to withdraw with compensation from federally-initiated shared-cost programs, and gave Quebec a veto over constitutional change to major institutions, such as reforming or abolishing the Senate.

31 July 2015

Everyone has the fundamental freedom of religion ...

Everyone has the fundamental freedom of religion subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.


22 July 2015

Not all Quebecois are racist, but ...

but most National-Sovereignists are ethnocentric

Andrew Coyne: Lets' get this straight, Quebec was not left out of Canada's constitution

Thirty years later they are still at it: the grievance nursers, the unity warners, the federalism renewers and the statesman solvers and the whole shambling constitutional industry, still rolling, still meeting, still funded. Still. 
There are people approaching their fifties who were not old enough to vote when the Queen signed the Constitution Act 1982 into law, snipping the last legislative strings tying the Constitution of Canada to the Parliament of Britain, entrenching a homegrown process of amendment within it, adding a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and much else. 
After several decades of failed attempts, this ought to have been a moment for great national celebration - as it should be now, on its 30th anniversary. But that is to reckon without this country's capacity for pointless politicization, sterile debates and perpetual indignation. And so the only people who will be marking the occasion, aside from a little gathering of Liberals in Toronto, will be the ones most convinced the country suffered some terrible calamity with patriation that they alone can put right: the constitutional industry, again.

05 July 2015

William Johnson: What can we expect from PKP’s future blitzkrieg ‘to make of Québec a country?’


So PKP totally avoids the central issue raised by the Supreme Court of Canada in its 1998 response to the reference on Quebec’s secession. The court ruled that there were two ways to attain independence: either by a successful revolution, or a negotiated amendment to the Constitution of Canada. A negotiated secession would require meeting four conditions: the test of democratic legitimacy (a clear answer to a clear question); the rule of law (abiding by the requirements of the Canadian constitution for its amendment); the principle of federalism (obtaining the consent of the other provinces); and recognizing the rights of minorities (in particular of the aboriginals).
The Québécois, practical people, would never knowingly engage in a revolution. So the only realistic means of secession is a negotiated amendment. But PKP, like the Parti Québécois, ignores the central issue in the real world: at what price can the PQ obtain the consent of the rest of Canada for Quebec’s secession? For example, would the PQ agree to exempt from secession the lands of the Inuit, the Cree and the Montagnais, who all voted in 1995 by 95 per cent or more against being part of Quebec’s secession? If so, Quebec would lose half its present territory. If not, the rest of Canada will consider secession illegitimate.

The problem is not how “Québec” could thrive after independence. The crucial problem is how to get there. What territory would remain under the jurisdiction of the new sovereign Quebec? The Supreme Court made clear that a seceding Quebec is as divisible as Canada is now — and in accordance with the very same principles. But PKP offers only silence on the issue.

04 July 2015

Esoteric French Language Charter Interpretation

"That leads to a discussion about dominance - if you put the French first it ought to be enough - had that conversation with the legal counsel for a major Canadian retailer and he agreed. 

"Then there's the concept of just doing it and making the language [tyrants] look stupid trying to justify their position (they're actually sensitive about that today)

24 June 2015

Les idées de PKP pour le Québec | Pierre Karl Péladeau élu chef du PQ | ICI.Radio-Canada.ca

Les idées de PKP pour le Québec | Pierre Karl Péladeau élu chef du PQ | ICI.Radio-Canada.ca

Tout le Québec le sait : Pierre Karl Péladeau a fait son entrée en politique afin de faire du Québec un pays. Alors qu'il vient d'être élu chef du Parti québécois (PQ), il convient de se demander à quoi ressemblerait le Québec sous sa gouverne, qu'il soit province ou pays.

Premier Couillard Defends Limits on Freedom of Expression - The New York Times

Quebec Leader Defends Limits on Freedom of Expression - The New York Times

Quebec’s premier said Tuesday that the government must “draw a line in the sand” on freedom of expression, as he defended legislation under consideration by provincial lawmakers that would restrict Islamic face coverings for women and hateful speech deemed to foment violence.
In an interview with the editorial board of The New York Times, the premier, Philippe Couillard, also asserted that the legislation was far less onerous than measures that had been proposed by the previous provincial administration, which was defeated by his Quebec Liberal Party more than a year ago.
The province has been shaken by fears of homegrown terrorism and radicalized youths. Last month, the police arrested 10 teenagers as they were about to depart Montreal to join jihadist militants in Syria and Turkey. Some were reported to have ties to six Quebecers who had made that journey in January, Canadian news media reported.

Montreal couple angry after French-only SQ emergency call - Montreal - CBC News

Montreal couple angry after French-only SQ emergency call - Montreal - CBC News

Sûreté du Québec doesn't require its dispatchers to speak English, spokersperson says

A Montreal couple have complained to Quebec's police ethics board after a Sûreté du Québec dispatcher was unable to speak English during an emergency phone call. Frank Gaudio and his fiancée Tracy Engstrom, who is eight months pregnant, were involved in a car crash earlier this month at the Dorval exit of Highway 20. The couple were unharmed, and Gaudio went to check on the driver of the other vehicle while Engstrom dialled 911. 

Coolopolis: Quebec's logo modification demand could lead to constitutional squabbles

Coolopolis: Quebec's logo modification demand could lead to constitutional squabbles

Tyler tells Coolopolis that the new amendments would also fail simply because trademarks fall under the federal jurisdiction.

     "It'd be hopelessly unconstitutional if any of my clients were
prosecuted under this amendment," said Tyler who senses an ulterior
motive in the government initiative.

   "This is a cynical political ploy to lose in court. Then they'll be
able to say 'gee without a distinct society clause we can't protect the
French language.'" They would come back and say 'we need more powers, we
cannot protect our language within this constitutional framework.'"

20 June 2015

Baloney Meter: Tories say niqab ban needed to prove citizenship applicant's ID | CTV News

Baloney Meter: Tories say niqab ban needed to prove citizenship applicant's ID | CTV News

THE VERDICT  Whatever the merits of the government's arguments about Canadian values and gender equality, the contention that face coverings must be banned in order to verify identity does not hold up, given the multiple other ways in which citizenship applicants must prove their identity.  For these reasons, the statement by Menegakis is "full of baloney."

William Johnson: A visionary, Jacques Parizeau was ready to pay any price | National Post

William Johnson: A visionary, Jacques Parizeau was ready to pay any price | National Post

In 2004, Parizeau came out publicly for “élections référendaires” in which the PQ ran on a platform of declaring independence if it won the merest majority of seats. “The proposed strategy has the immense advantage of freeing Quebec from the corridor where Ottawa wanted to park us. The Clarity Act becomes meaningless. It is the election which grants the mandate [for independence].”

Quebec sign law would add touch of French to global chains like Walmart


In a review of the matter from as far back as 2000, the Conseil supérieur de la langue francaise, an advisory body, noted that a trademark registered by a Canadian company with the federal government has recognition and protection the world over thanks to intellectual property agreements between Ottawa and other countries.
It noted there had been an increase in companies getting around language laws by seeking to trademark their English name. But these same protections ensure that Montreal's world famous Cirque du Soleil isn't forced to call itself Sun Circus when it pitches a tent for shows in Las Vegas.
“It is difficult to call into question a global legal process that began more than 100 years ago,” the Conseil noted in its review, adding that China considered forcing companies to translate their trademarked names but eventually gave up.

18 June 2015

The Suburban News | M. Couillard, time to end the suppression of expression

The Suburban News | M. Couillard, time to end the suppression of expression

— The Couillard administration is failing in its promise to restore the
dignity of all citizens on minority rights and constitutional
protection of language. This failure will inevitably harm economic
recovery as surely as the policies of the Marois government did.
Appeasement of language extremists for political expediency, impotence
or unwillingness to reign in the OQLF and the tactic of changing rule
and regulation to thwart judicial decisions, is making Quebec look like
nothing other than a banana republic.

Québec obligera les détaillants à ajouter un slogan en français à leur affichage | ICI.Radio-Canada.ca

Québec obligera les détaillants à ajouter un slogan en français à leur affichage | ICI.Radio-Canada.ca

« On va laisser un certain choix aux entreprises parce qu'une marque de commerce est de compétence fédérale et qu'elle est protégée par le droit du commerce international. »

17 June 2015

Reasonable Propositions: Signs of the Times


If descriptors for international trademarks are unnecessary in France, they are unnecessary in Quebec.

There is such an exemption in Bill 101 because the drafters knew it was ultra vires. 

Trademarks are federal, therefore ultra vires of Quebec.

This can be read into the judgement in April 2015 by Quebec Superior Court Judge Michel Yergeau

It is not, as Couillard opines, "a question of politeness". It is a question of law.

If companies wish to add descriptors, and dilute their brands, they are free to do so. But they must not be compelled to do so.

It is heartening that some companies have resisted doing so, to protect their intellectual property.

If descriptors are necessary for international companies, then they must be for Canadian and Quebecois ones as well

"perhaps it’s time for these same retailers to consider the signs that their customers encounter after they enter a store. "
'Bill 101 requires that product descriptions, as well as advertising in catalogues and flyers, be printed in French.'  As modified by the Supreme Court, it also allows other languages, as long as French is predominant.  Although such sentiments are mostly irrelevant in law, as evidenced by polling most francophones would tolerate 'other' languages on signs.
A store is under no obligation to provide translations.

people are already free to boycott over language

companies are already free to designate as they wish now, restricted or not


political more than legal

an irritant to business

will be challenged

no scientific basis that it will protect French

bad discourse is more detrimental than bad laws

Les haricots sont pas sales: The appeal of Acadiana


11 June 2015

Anglos need more support to help prevent exodus: official languages commissioner


English-speaking Quebecers and English-speaking immigrants’ contributions aren’t always fairly perceived in Quebec, according to Canada’s commissioner of official languages.In his annual report, Graham Fraser argues that the Quebec government doesn’t provide the necessary resources to organizations able to provide support to English-speaking immigrants.The report, made public Thursday, stated that “too many anglophones leave Quebec every year,” which weakens their community and “Quebec as a whole.”

16 April 2015

Quebec Bill 78: CCLA denounces drastic, broad infringements of fundamental constitutional rights

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has severe concerns about the constitutional validity of Bill 78, which was passed by the Quebec National Assembly on May 18, 2012. The CCLA agrees that access to education and ensuring that instruction in schools, CEGEPs and universities is open and available for those who want to attend are pressing and substantial societal interests. Our concerns are not directed at this goal, but rather the means that the Quebec government has chosen to pursue it. Bill 78 drastically limits freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly rights in Quebec.  It puts in place a number of prohibitions that are at best tenuously linked with the goal of ensuring access to postsecondary education. Even those provisions that do directly address access to educational institutions are frequently overly broad, vague and discretionary.The Bill, for example, imposes very broad prior notification requirements that would apply to all demonstrations, regardless of their connection to student protests or proximity to educational institutions. Bill 78 requires organizers of any demonstration involving 50 or more people to provide an eight-hour written notice to the police specifying the time, duration, venue and route of the demonstration. These obligations would even be imposed on gatherings taking place on private property, so long as the location is “publicly accessible.”  The police will have the power to unilaterally decide the proposed route or venue poses a serious risk for public security, and require the organizers to submit a new plan.These prior notification requirements are broad, vague and in most applications will have no rational connection to ensuring access to postsecondary institutions. There is no definition of a “demonstration,” leaving significant leeway to police and government officials to determine when the prior notification scheme will or will not apply. Any individual organizer who fails to provide notification to the police or does not “employ appropriate means” to make sure the demonstration follows the approved plan may be fined between $7000 and $35,000 per day; if it is a group that has organized the demonstration, the fine can be between $25,000 and $125,000. The onerous notice requirement, the lack of clarity in the obligations of the organizers, as well as the recourse to penal sanctions will fetter the fundamental freedom of all those within Quebec to organize peaceful assemblies ...

Saguenay right-to-pray ruling: What it means for religious freedom in politics - Montreal - CBC News

Saguenay right-to-pray ruling: What it means for religious freedom in politics - Montreal - CBC News

CCLA at Supreme Court on City of Saguenay Freedom of Religion Case

CCLA at Supreme Court on Important Freedom of Religion Case « Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada as an intervener in the case of Mouvement laïque québécois, et al. v. City of Saguenay, et al. The
appeal heard by the Court on October 14, 2014, centres on whether the
recital of a prayer at the beginning of public city council meetings
violates provisions of the Quebec charter of human rights and freedoms and, in particular, whether rights to equality and freedom of religion, are unjustifiably infringed.
Mr. Simoneau, a non-religious citizen of the respondent
City of Saguenay attended the meetings of the municipal council. A
municipal by-law allowed council members to stand and say a prayer at
the start of council proceedings if they wished. Mr. Simoneau and the
Mouvement laïque québécois filed an application against the City and its
mayor with the province’s human rights tribunal alleging that they had
violated Mr. Simoneau’s freedom of conscience and religion and his right
to respect for his dignity (ss. 3, 4, 10, 11 and 15 of the Charter).
They asked that the recitation of the prayer cease and that religious
symbols be removed from the proceedings rooms. The tribunal allowed Mr.
Simoneau’s application in part, but the Court of Appeal set aside the
decision on the ground that the content of the prayer did not violate
the duty of neutrality imposed on the City, and that even if the
recitation of the prayer interfered with Mr. Simoneau’s moral values,
the interference was trivial or insubstantial in the circumstances.
The CCLA’s position in the case is that State-sponsored
religious coercion, in the form of the recital of a religious prayer at
public city council meetings, violates the right to equality and freedom
of religion and conscience, and that these violations cannot be
justified under the either the Quebec or Canadian Charters.  There can
be no justification for state compulsion in matters of belief, and the
context of the particular case pointed to the bylaw’s clearly religious
purpose and effect.

Don Macpherson: Stop calling Quebec student protests 'strikes,' because they're not


A bargaining unit can’t go on strike without the consent of a majority of its members participating in a vote. All its members are eligible to participate, and they must be given at least 48 hours’ notice of the vote. And the vote must be held by secret ballot, not a show of hands ...

They’re closer to boycotts, although a boycott usually doesn’t mean refusing to accept a service for which you’ve already paid. And participation in a boycott is, and should remain, voluntary.

Students have the absolute right to boycott their classes, and to try to persuade others to do so. But nobody has the right, legal or moral, to interfere with anybody who wants to receive a public service to which he or she is entitled.

15 April 2015

Speaker's Corner: Quebec judge’s ban on hijab in courtroom a judicial fiasco


El-Alloul, a naturalized Canadian who proudly wore her hijab before another judge at her citizenship ceremony years ago, has stated that what happened before Marengo made her “feel afraid” and that she no longer “feels Canadian.” ...

That the proximate justification for denying access related to El-Alloul’s religiously ordained article of clothing was ironic in more ways than one. The coat of arms of the Court of Quebec actually bears a Tudor crown clearly adorned with two Christian crucifixes, and the Quebec flag offers a more than conspicuous display of the same religious symbol for anyone who cares to see it ...

Finally, it would be hard to argue, particularly in view of the equality rights codified in s. 15, that allowing El-Alloul to petition a court of law for the early return of her impounded vehicle while wearing her hijab would harm any other person’s rights in a manner inconsistent with the Charter ...


11 April 2015

Don Macpherson: With Creolegate, the OQLF appears to be exceeding its authority


After the “Pastagate” affair made Quebec a global laughingstock in February, the Marois government determined that the “language police” must never again expose Quebec and its language law to such ridicule.
It made the Office québécois de la langue française find an excuse to cancel its order to a Montreal restaurant to add French translations to the Italian names of dishes on its menu.
It sacked the head of the OQLF, Louise Marchand.
And, above all, it told the OQLF to show more discernment in handling complaints.

Pastagate Pronouncement

I can 'respect' the requirement for a French translation of menus under Quebec's Bill 101..

But if a person dining in an Italian restuarant needs a translation of the word 'pasta', perhaps they would be better dining at home.

03 April 2015

Pégida Québec

About Pégida Québec
from Facebook:
Regroupement Québécois contre la radicalisation, l'intégrisme et la Charia.


After a failed attempt to stage an inaugural demonstration [29 MAR 15] weekend in Montreal,
a far-right, anti-immigrant group from Europe, cancelled a second event scheduled for [03 APR 15] – citing safety concerns.
The first rally organized by PEGIDA in Montreal was attended by just a handful of people [on SAT 28 MAR 15]. After hundreds of anti-PEGIDA demonstrators showed up to oppose them, they cancelled their march.
In a post on its Facebook page, the group – an offshoot of a much larger European movement – announced that the decision to call off the second rally, in an area of the city where many Muslims live and work, was made in response to a violent confrontation that occurred over the weekend [of 28/29 MAR 15] outside CEGEP Maisonneuve.

A small group of pro-secularism protesters linked to the Rassemblement pour la laïcité showed up at the school on Sunday [29 MAR 15] to demonstrate against Muslim radicalization, and were greeted by another group of anti-racism protesters. At least one physical confrontation ensued, with wooden picket signs used as weapons. One person was arrested.

“While only twenty protesters showed up [at the school], they were greeted by opponents calling them pro-[Charter of Quebecois Values] protesters, racists and fascists,” the PEGIDA administrators wrote on their Facebook page, adding that their planned event was promptly cancelled “in order to protect all supporters of our movement.”


29 March 2015

Sharpest tool in the box?

“Montreal is Anglo-Saxon, not French,” one [PEGIDA supporter] yelled in French (!) at the counter-protesters around him. “F— off!”

Anie Samson: Anti Inuit militant

Samson, who is a member of Mayor Denis Coderre’s Équipe Coderre party and a member of the city executive committee, said she came to the protest “to tell PEGIDA that they have no place in Montreal. All forms of intolerance has no place here. All acts of Islamaphobia, of anti-semitism or against a community of Montreal has no place here.”


28 March 2015

William Johnson: Numbers don't support notion that French is threatened in Quebec


... The standard indicator of a threatened language is that the younger generations abandon it. There’s no sign of that in Quebec. The 2011 census of Canada revealed that, across Canada, between 2006 and 2011, the number of people of French mother tongue rose by 327,775. The number of people who reported speaking mostly French at home rose by even more: 428,530. In Canada outside Quebec, the number speaking French at home increased by 91,640. 
But most significant are the figures for Quebec. The number of French mother tongue rose by 273,735. The number speaking French at home (around the family table!) actually rose even more, by 336,890. French is assimilating others, not being assimilated. 
Henripin was scheduled to testify before Justice Mascia last May, but he died seven months before. And so the myth persists that Anglos are a constant existential threat to the Québécois. The siege mentality that opposes les Québécois to their fellow citizens in Quebec and to francophones in the rest of Canada triumphs once again. Will it ever end?

Supreme Court Issues a Strong Decision on Freedom of Religion in Loyola v. Quebec « Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Supreme Court Issues a Strong Decision on Freedom of Religion in Loyola v. Quebec « Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA intervened in the case in light of its importance to the
more general understanding of freedom of religion in Canada.  Before the
Court, CCLA argued that while freedom of religion is often thought of
as an individual right, it also has significant associational and
expressive components.  
Therefore, in certain cases, where an
institution is primarily a vehicle through which individual members
exercise their own freedom of religion, the institution itself can make a
claim under the Charter.  CCLA also argued that the Minister
was required to consider freedom of religion in making its determination
on the exemption.  The Supreme Court decision contains two sets of
reasons, but both affirm that freedom of religion has communal aspects
that will benefit from Charter protection and that the Minister had to consider freedom of religion in making the exemption decision in this case.

26 March 2015

Chris Selley: Thomas Mulcair On wars, niqabs and ballot questions | National Post

Chris Selley: On wars, niqabs and ballot questions | National Post

In a similar vein, it has been a pleasant surprise to see how little trouble Thomas Mulcair and his New Democrats are having over niqabs. Received political wisdom would say he’s in an awful pickle: Mr. Mulcair desperately needs to hang on to as many votes in Quebec, the majority of which he purloined from the super-duper-anti-niqab Bloc Québécois, as he can, without disillusioning his lefty friends in the Rest of Canada. He is on the record in favour of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission recommendations, which include a ban on religious symbols for police officers, prison guards, Crown prosecutors and judges, and has supported the idea that government services ought to be delivered with an uncovered face. He risks being accused of hypocrisy and flip-flopping, especially in Quebec.And yet he has been just as forceful against the Conservatives leveraging anti-niqab sentiment as he was against the Parti Québécois’ wretched “values charter.” “I will always defend the right of people to practice their religion. That’s part of who we are in Canada,” he said earlier this month. It was somewhat awkward when one of his highest-profile MPs, Alexandre Boulerice, told Quebec media he was uncomfortable with the niqab and suggested Canada needs a Bouchard-Taylor-style commission of its own — but neither is an unreasonable position. Of the many hurdles Mr. Mulcair needs to clear between now and election day, niqab policy sure doesn’t seem to be one.

23 March 2015

Siddiqui: Islam and terrorism

Islam, in fact, prohibits terrorism — “the Qur’an says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.”
America and its western allies, including Canada, continue to embrace the non-democratic oppressive regimes in the Muslim world against whom many Muslims rebelled. But the Arab Spring was crushed by America’s allies, with Obama’s implicit and Harper’s explicit endorsement.

I used to dislike the niqab. Harper showed me how wrong I was - The Globe and Mail

I used to dislike the niqab. Harper showed me how wrong I was - The Globe and Mail

The first time I saw a woman wear a niqab was many years ago when I
was driving through rural northern Nigeria. She was completely enveloped
from head to toe in heavy black clothing. Only a thin slit for her eyes
were visible. This was, I learned, a burka, an extreme form of the
niqab, and I still recall all these years later how revolted I was by
the sight of a woman who, it seemed to me, was wearing her own solitary
confinement. Until now, no one had ever persuaded me that any woman
would freely chose to disappear into that suffocating prisoner’s

StatsCan: Charitable donors

Charitable donors

The above are the stats for charitable giving for 2013 across
Canada. Note the embarrassing median of Quebec, and it is not because we
are the highest taxed. Our median is only 44% of 9th place (poorer) New

19 March 2015

William Johnson: Lamb lobby hides truth on language

Untitled document

What does English Quebec want? Says who? I asked that while watching the special on Quebec of famed French television critic, Bernard Pivot. His Bouillon de culture quebecoise was broadcast on Radio-Quebec June 2 and on French television last Friday.
Pivot interviewed five prominent writers to form a picture of culture in Quebec, including novelist Neil Bissoondath and Gazette editor-in-chief Joan Fraser. Bissoondath, in Montreal for only a few years, found it only right that immigrants to Quebec be compelled to send their children to French school. And what did Fraser tell the international audience? Unlike Bissoondath, she did not speak only for herself, but purported to speak for Quebec's English-speaking community.``The rule regarding access to English school has been accepted - even if it has not been backed enthusiastically - but it has been truly accepted by the anglophone community because it is true that, given the very low birthrate in French Quebec, it is necessary that newcomers learn French and integrate into the (francophone) community . . . and really, the great majority of anglophones accept it.''

Not giving away (many) Montreal Smoked Meat Secrets

Lesters Foods would first like to thank you for the interest you have shown both in our product as well as our company.
We greatly appreciate your positive comments.
In response to your question as you can imagine the production of our smoked meat is a closely guarded secret. Our process is unique to Lesters and we are very proud of it. We do not divulge our manufacturing process as this is what we think makes our product unique and the best smoked meat on the market.
Nevertheless without divulging any trade secrets we can tell you that our product is brine-cured and not dry cured. As for our cooking process that unfortunately we cannot discuss.
We thank you again for your interest in our company.
Mark Lester
Les Aliments Lesters Foods
Montreal, QC

16 March 2015

Dr Marguerite Ritchie: A giant with courage of her convictions | Columnists | Ottawa Sun

A giant with courage of her convictions | Corbett | Columnists | Opinion | Ottaw

And then in 1995, at the height of the political tensions and
brinkmanship of the second Quebec referendum, Dr. Marguerite Ritchie did
something unthinkable to the political elites of this country.

She came out and stated publicly that Quebec's language laws were discriminatory.

She equated what was happening to Anglophones in Quebec to what has
historically been the fate of women. They were being treated as
second-class citizens.

From feminist poster child, Ritchie was transformed overnight in
Ottawa into cranky, elderly Francophone-hater. The government work dried
up. Invitations to certain events never came again.

15 March 2015

CCLA Supports Repeal of Montreal Protest Bylaw P-6

CCLA has written to Montreal Councillor Alex Norris who planned to
introduce a motion to repeal Montreal’s controversial bylaw: P-6.  The
bylaw requires individuals to provide prior notice to police of their
meeting places and demonstration itineraries regardless of the size of
the planned protest and without making any exceptions for spontaneous
assemblies.  The bylaw also prohibits individuals from wearing facial
coverings at a public demonstration without reasonable cause.  The bylaw
has been used to clamp down on peaceful protests before they have even
gotten underway and individuals have received tickets of over $600 each.
 CCLA wrote to Montreal’s City Council in May of 2012 when the
amendments to the bylaw were first considered and passed.  With recent
mass arrests taking place under the bylaw, CCLA has again written to the
City expressing its concerns and arguing for the need to protect
fundamental freedoms, including the freedom to peacefully assemble and
freedom of expression.

Denis Coderre rend hommage à Mordecai Richler | Métro

Denis Coderre rend hommage à Mordecai Richler | Métro

Bien que l’écrivain soit apprécié un peu
partout dans le monde, dans certains coins de la province, ses
critiques du mouvement nationaliste lui ont valu des reproches.

À ce sujet, Florence Richler avait expliqué en janvier que son mari
était critique «de tout et tout le monde — non seulement du Québec

«Nommer une bibliothèque francophone en l’honneur d’un homme qui
avait une relation plutôt tumultueuse et controversée avec la majorité
francophone du Québec n’est pas une décision évidente à prendre», a
souligné le maire de l’arrondissement du Plateau-Mont-Royal Luc
Ferrandez, qui englobe le quartier Mile-End.

14 March 2015

Aaron Wherry: The weak and uninspiring case against the niqab


“Freedom in a broad sense embraces both the absence of coercion and constraint, and the right to manifest beliefs and practices,” Justice Brian Dickson once wrote. “Freedom means that, subject to such limitations as are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others, no one is to be forced to act in a way contrary to his beliefs or his conscience.”
We could say that the wearing of the niqab when an individual chooses to become a citizen of Canada does not threaten the safety, order, health or morals of this country. That so long as those things are maintained, we should make some attempt to accommodate each other. That we are secure enough to accept that some might choose to wear it. That we are stronger not for demanding the niqab’s removal, but for accepting that we must allow someone the choice to wear it.
There might be some rhetorically useful historical analogy to attempt here, but my knowledge of history isn’t what it should be and I’ve learned by watching politicians that the odds of sticking the landing on an analogy are low. In lieu of history, we might make do with practicalities, legalities and principles.

12 March 2015

Rights and religion in Quebec - Winnipeg Free Press

Rights and religion in Quebec - Winnipeg Free Press

It is true however, that francophones and especially independentists are more likely than other Quebecers to strongly oppose the specific right to wear and display religious symbols. So the BQ stands a better chance of making gains from super-politicizing and mobilizing the anti-religious symbol sentiment. But this would be a major gamble, and we all remember what happened to the PQ during the last provincial election in Quebec when it decided to take that risk. Also, the BQ is still badly bruised from being virtually knocked out during the last federal election and it is increasingly evident that their traditional raison d'être will no longer simply do the trick. (No more than two in 10 francophones deem it necessary to have a referendum on sovereignty over the next four to five years. Even the majority of independentists believe that a referendum is not an immediate priority.)
Note too that, in principle, Quebecers are actually more supportive of protecting rights and freedoms than they are of creating a secular state. Nearly half of our survey respondents indicated that they strongly support the protection of citizens' rights and freedoms whereas only 27 per cent said that they strongly supported a secular state. However, Quebecers do place certain rights above others. For instance, 60 per cent of Quebecers strongly support the principle of gender equality, while only 37 per cent strongly support the idea of religious freedom. Still, the findings suggest that Quebecers are more adamant about religious freedom than they are about a secular state. This also applies for francophones. And even independentists are at least as supportive of religious freedom as they are of a secular state.
Consider, too, that very few Quebecers are very supportive of restricting rights and freedoms. Only one in five Quebecers and one in four francophones strongly support restricting government employees, inclusive of health-care workers, teachers, professors and police officers from "wearing or displaying religious symbols." Even fewer still would strongly support restricting such freedoms if doing so were to result in negative consequences, such as job losses or a decline in the economy. The same goes for restricting personal freedoms: very few Quebecers, francophones included, are strongly supportive of restricting the personal freedoms of people from different faiths, such as Christians, Jews, Sikhs and Muslims, from wearing or displaying religious symbols.

A collision of culture and religion in Quebec

Over and above the nearly eight in 10 Quebecers who reported being worried about religious fundamentalism in a Leger Marketing poll last month, or the 74 per cent who support Harper’s anti-terrorism legislation, or the 73 per cent reporting terrorism fears and the 62 per cent who back the bombing campaign against the Islamic State, there may be an even more nuanced calculation to explain the PQ-Tory echo.


19 February 2015

Citizenship minister's office declines to clarify "hijab" reference

Citizenship minister's office declines to clarify "hijab" reference

There can hardly be a more sensitive matter (as we all learned back in 2013 when the Parti Québécois put forward its ill-conceived “Charter of Values” in Quebec) than any government proposing to impose restrictions on the wearing of religious clothing or symbols.
So when Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to appeal a recent federal court ruling that would allow Muslim women to cover their faces while taking the oath of citizenship, you might have expected his government to be scrupulously cautious and precise in explaining what was bound to be a controversial position.
Based on today’s evidence, you would have been wrong. News that the Conservatives sent out a fundraising email on the topic led to a question from Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland in the House. She focused specifically on how the Tory email mentioned that the government was appealing a judge’s ruling “allowing people to wear the hijab while taking the oath.”

Don Macpherson: Fear of Muslims in small-town Quebec, where there are almost none

Premier Philippe Couillard felt the pressure. While he refused to say whether he approved of the Shawinigan council’s decision, he did say on Tuesday that recent terrorist attacks make the public’s fear “completely understandable.”A poll in mid-January suggested that inhabitants of the province’s mostly rural regions such as Mauricie were more likely than other Quebecers to have worse opinions of immigrants and Muslims after the terrorist attacks in Paris.What happened in Jean Chrétien’s hometown shows that fear of Muslims isn’t limited to the answers to pollsters’ questions. It’s starting to affect relations between people in everyday life.

14 February 2015

Chez Geeks board-game store gets OQLF complaint - Montreal - CBC News

Chez Geeks board-game store gets OQLF complaint - Montreal - CBC News

He said when he called the OQLF to get an explanation for the most recent letter, he was told that Chez Geeks was technically breaking the law — Art. 54 of Bill 101 in particular, which stipulates:"Toys and games, except those referred to in section 52.1, which require the use of a non-French vocabulary for their operation are prohibited on the Québec market, unless a French version of the toy or game is available on the Québec market on no less favourable terms."The OQLF confirmed to CBC News that it sent Caltabiano three letters, but says it would not comment on this case for confidentiality reasons.

Chris Selley: The PQ’s limitless capacity for self-delusion


But these voices of reason have some fairly major blind spots. Mr. Drainville seems to have a handle on one obvious reason the PQ botched the campaign. But when it comes to another highly divisive issue that very few Quebecers prioritize — the PQ’s secularism or “values” charter — he doesn’t seem to have learned anything. His recently unveiled Charter 2.0 is predicated on the (correct, baffling) notion that while Quebecers say they don’t want civil servants wearing religious garb, they also don’t want such civil servants to lose their jobs if they won’t desist. Some politicians would see that for what it is, a no-win situation, and back away slowly. Mr. Drainville instead proposes a grandfather clause: Hijab-wearing teachers would be left alone, but hijab-wearing daughters they might have would be barred from the civil service. Is he quite sure that’s controversy-proof?
The values charter is more popular than sovereignty, at least. A SOM poll conducted last month found 59% of Quebecers think they need one. But that’s what they said a year ago, too, and it didn’t help the PQ one little bit, for the simple reason that almost all of those people care about the economy, jobs, health care, education and government corruption vastly more. Mr. Lisée, meanwhile, who dropped out of the race last month citing the inevitability of Mr. Péladeau’s win, claimed in his book that he wouldn’t even have voted for the Charter he so passionately defended. It was too harsh, he declared, not at all in a timely fashion.
To be fair, 2018 is a long way away. Just because Mr. Péladeau says he’s all about sovereignty now doesn’t mean the PQ couldn’t mount a reasonably compelling campaign under his leadership that doesn’t rest on issues that Quebecers consider irrelevant. For example, if the Liberals keep their nerve on their current economic policies, the PQ could theoretically compete with an anti-austerity message. A notoriously anti-union strike-breaking billionaire plutocrat like Mr. Péladeau would be a very odd choice to lead said campaign. But it makes a lot more sense than sovereignty-and-values approach the party thus far seems determined — doomed — to repeat.