16 August 2017

Challenge of Quebec secession law makes it before the courts after 16-year wait | Toronto Star

Challenge of Quebec secession law makes it before the courts after 16-year wait | Toronto Star



MONTREAL—The long-awaited constitutional challenge of Quebec’s secession law finally found its way before a judge on Monday, nearly 16 years after it was launched.
The provincial law, known as Bill 99, was adopted in 2000 by the Parti Québécois government of the day as a direct response to the federal Clarity Act.
Drafted by the Lucien Bouchard-led PQ, it affirms the legal existence of the Quebec people and its right to self-determination.

Don Macpherson: Defending Quebec against undesirables | Montreal Gazette

Don Macpherson: Defending Quebec against undesirables | Montreal Gazette



Everybody in Quebec is a minority. Even the French-speaking Quebecers who form the political majority that wields power in this province are a cultural minority in North America, and even Quebec independence wouldn’t change that.
Minority consciousness can create feelings of vulnerability, fear of loss, and suspicion of others. In Quebec, where every group is a minority, it seems that every one of them is suspicious of some other, resulting in the wearisome particular divisiveness of the province’s politics.
Besieged minorities — and not only French-speaking Quebecers — need defenders against outside threats, real or perceived. This creates opportunities for volunteers, in the media and, as we saw again in Quebec this week, in politics.

05 August 2017

CCLA (Via The Globe And Mail): When religious freedom should take a back seat to equality rights

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/when-religious-freedom-should-take-a-back-seat-to-equality-rights/article25784108/

In my view, both rights are fundamental for a society to be grounded in respect for human dignity. Indeed, in Canada, both rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – but the Charter, which applies to government action, would not directly apply to a commercial airline.
How far do we go to accommodate a sincerely held religious belief when it comes into conflict with the equality rights of someone else? If all rights are equal and there is no hierarchy, do we figure out these questions on a case-by-case basis? In Canada, decision-makers have ruled against a bed-and-breakfast owner who refused to rent to a gay couple. But some may ask, what about religious freedom? What about the innkeeper’s rights?
Personally, I don’t think that in a public or commercial space the religious beliefs of one person can be used to deny, or relegate (intentionally or not) as inferior, the equality rights of someone else. Religious freedoms are writ large and people are free to believe what they wish, and to act as they wish, short of causing harm to another. Gender segregation can and is upheld in private religious institutions freely attended by individuals – but in public spheres we must be vigilant about upholding the equality rights of all. If we wouldn’t tolerate the refusal to sit beside a racialized person, we shouldn’t tolerate sex discrimination, either.

Don Macpherson: The wrong kind of Quebecers | Montreal Gazette

Don Macpherson: The wrong kind of Quebecers | Montreal Gazette



The concern was not about what people do. It was about what they are, about a characteristic they cannot change. The implication was that there aren’t enough of the right kind of people in Quebec, and too many of the wrong kind.
To put this in perspective, it’s hard to imagine mainstream politicians and commentators saying in 2017 that there are too many Jews in Quebec. But it was socially acceptable for them to say there are too many non-francophones.
It was a divisive message, telling the majority, once again, that its identity is threatened by enemies in its midst. And it told the linguistic minorities that it’s not enough to learn French and use it. Our simple presence here is the problem.