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.