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.

13 February 2015

Sacré-Coeur Hospital (Ville Saint-Laurent) orders employees to not speak English


But Eric Maldoff, a lawyer and expert on Bill 101, said that there's no such provision in the law.
"With respect to oral communications between two English speaking people Bill 101 says absolutely nothing. In the absence of saying anything, two people have a right to speak to each other in English," Maldoff told CTV Montreal Thursday.
Sacre Coeur pharmacy technician Laura Page said that she speaks English or French depending on the situation and plans to continue doing so.

Game store owner hounded by language inspectors


OQLF spokesperson Jean-Pierre Le Blanc told CTV News the rules are clear:
“A French version has to be available to be able to sell the product,” said Leblanc, “unless it's a product like an educational product.”
“It’s very black and white, it's either their way or no way,” says an exasperated Caltabiano. “The board game is only in English. There is no French equivalent so I can't put one up.”

Lise Ravary (National Post): The PQ’s next false prophet


In a blog earlier this week entitled “The perils of optimism,” [Lisee] reminded party members that steady support for sovereignty does not exceed 28%.

He wrote: “Nine months ago, in [the April 2014 provincial general election, a tough conversation took place between the electorate and our party. It ended on a clear rejection of the possibility of holding a referendum in the short term and a worrisome disavowal of our party by the youth of Quebec.

Fearing that PKP’s stupendous popularity will lead militants to disregard the facts, he added: “By dint of talking amongst ourselves, we sovereigntists tend to translate our hopes into certainties and to give more credit to what we want to hear than to what we actually hear."

12 February 2015

Stephen Harper says Ottawa to appeal ruling allowing veil during citizenship oath


On Thursday, the National Council of Canadian Muslims also urged the government to reconsider its appeal.
“The issue pertains to a tiny minority of women who choose to wear the face veil, and regardless of anyone’s feelings about it, the law is clear,” said Ihsaan Gardee, the council’s executive director.
“There are many more pressing issues that our government should be tackling on behalf of Canadians. Curtailing a woman’s freedom of religious expression, which harms no one and where accommodations are possible, should not be one of them.”

John Ivison: Harper’s ‘offence’ at niqab ruling part of larger strategy to steal Quebec from the NDP

Stephen Harper got a strong round of applause Thursday when he made it clear his government will appeal a court decision overturning requirements that a woman remove her niqab while being sworn in as Canadian citizens.
Mr. Harper said the practice is unacceptable: “Most Canadians will find it offensive for a person to hide their identity at the very time when they are joining the Canadian family. It’s not how we do it here,” he said.
It was no coincidence that the Prime Minister took a particularly tough line while campaigning in Victoriaville, Que.

11 February 2015

Montreal imam has passport revoked; was once named as ‘subject of interest’ in probe


Federal officials have revoked the passport of an Iranian-trained Montreal imam once described by the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team as a “subject of interest in an ongoing investigation.”Ali Sbeiti, who was born in Iraq but has been a Canadian citizen since 1991, was notified in a Nov. 19 letter that his passport had been “invalidated” and that Passport Canada was reviewing his “eligibility for passport services.”The four-page letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada advised Mr. Sbeiti he could no longer use his passport and that he had to return it immediately. While it cited federal regulations, the letter did not explain why the action was taken.

Macpherson: Sovereignty strategy


That was apparent on the weekend at the meeting of the party’s national council, its highest decision-making body between full conventions. The delegates overwhelmingly adopted “orientations” to make the PQ more of a movement for independence than a party promising good provincial government.The orientations even allowed for independence to be achieved in a general election without a referendum, reverting to a position the PQ abandoned more than 40 years ago.That conflicts with the party’s official policy, which still requires a referendum, at least until the PQ adopts a new program at the policy convention the executive hopes to hold next year. Still, it shows that PQ members now are in a mood to take shortcuts. 

06 February 2015

Un local pour prier crée des tensions à la STM | JDM

Un local pour prier crée des tensions à la STM | JDM

L’aménagement d’un local pour la prière par la STM à la suite d’une demande d’un employé de religion musulmane crée des tensions au sein du personnel.
«Il y a des membres qui se sentent lésés, car ils [les musulmans qui pourront prier] ont des droits qu’eux n’ont pas. Le catholique, lui, n’a pas eu son église en dessous des marches», soutient le président du syndicat du transport de Montréal, Luc St-Hilaire.La Société de transport de Montréal (STM) a accepté de permettre à ceux qui veulent prier de s’installer aux ateliers d’entretien Youville. Le local peut accueillir six personnes et possède une cuve qui pourra être utilisée pour le nettoyage rituel, selon la STM.

04 February 2015

Quebec judge rejects challenge by merchants prosecuted for violating sign law - Times Colonist

MONTREAL - A Quebec judge has rejected a legal challenge by about two dozen businesses that were prosecuted for not respecting the province's French Language Charter.But lawyer Brent Tyler quickly announced Wednesday he plans to appeal the ruling, which he says didn't surprise him."I told my clients: 'Don't even try and think about getting involved in this case if you don't want to go the whole distance,'" he said outside the courtroom.- See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/quebec-judge-rejects-challenge-by-merchants-prosecuted-for-violating-sign-law-1.1745182#sthash.JXuFelXp.dpuf

The Mascia judgment: Justice denied - The Métropolitain

The Mascia judgment: Justice denied - The Métropolitain

Justice Mascia twisted fact, reason and logic to buttress the bankrupt notion so many of the politically correct have that we must maintain our "social peace" on language. Here's a news flash... there is no social peace on language. Every day non-francophone citizens are demeaned by words and actions from legislators to police officers to ticket takers to bus drivers to revenue agents to the OQLF and the list goes on. They are demeaned because the effects of 101 - overtly and subliminally - have led too many in authority to assume that "les autres" are not at all equal. Social peace is not the goal of a free society. Social justice is.
There is another fundamental element of justice Mascia ignored. The doctrine of acquired rights. From the time of Montesquieu and his seminal work "De l'esprit des lois," western law has attempted to guard against encroaching on rights citizens had enjoyed prior to the passage of new law. Indeed, international legal covenants on ethnic, religious, cultural and language rights have sought to protect this very principle because it is so crucial to safeguarding minorities. By this doctrine - even without reference to Canadian constitutional protection - if Quebec was an independent state at the time 101 was passed, the acquired rights of English speaking citizens at the time of passage would have to be respected.
Just two and a half years ago this province joined in the Quebec City Declaration of the Inter-Parliamentary union reaffirming these principles. Just two and a half weeks ago tens of thousands of Montrealers marched in the streets for freedom of expression in the wake of the Paris massacres. The hypocrisy is stifling. When will we bring to an end, to paraphrase Gary Shapiro, "second-class citizenship in a first-class country?" History has taught us that the courage to confront a society's treachery often starts with bold and brave judges. Justice Mascia missed an opportunity to let truth triumph.