03 April 2015

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 allreligious 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.

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