Quebec's charter of secularism

One of the candidates (the one who will probably, alas, win) in Quebec’s Sept. 5th election has announced that she will have passed a charter of secularism. Under it all public employees will be banned from wearing any religious symbols. No head scarves, no yarmulkes, no dangles with religious symbols. Except, needless to say, crucifixes. They are not religious symbols, she claims, but symbols of the Quebec heritage.

This is a blatant appeal to her base, small town and rural French Canadians, many of whom are not actually religious, but are frightened of the “other” and do have that religious heritage.

Notwithstanding the stupidity of the idea, is she willing to do what it takes to circumvent the obvious constitutional challenge?

This has been in the news for a few days. There’s something to be said about wanting to protect your culture, which is the politically correct thing to say you’re doing with such a law, but it’s really about xenophobia.

I hope it backfires. I hope there’s enough intelligent, educated, thoughtful Quebeckers who see through this crap. Maybe there’s a habit-wearing nun somewhere who is also a public employee. That would be fun.

I would guess that she would simply use the notwithstanding clause to get around that. The notwithstanding clause can be used against Charter s. 2(a), freedom of conscience and religion.

I thought I had cleverly phrased my first post in such a way as to be reasonably obvious that I was asking if she was committing herself to using the notwithstanding clause. In any other province, proposing this sort of thing would be suicide, but Quebec seems to be somewhat unique in both not caring about notwithstanding and thinking that forbidding religious garb is no big deal.


I was looking at it from a purely mechanical point-of-view: just writing it into the proposed legislation. You were looking at the bigger picture. I should have thought of that.

Wow, before I got to the bit about crosses, when I was thinking this was a truly secular push, I thought it was idiotic, pointless, and downright assholish. Add the cross thing and it’s beyond laughable.

It is not clear that the “notwithstanding clause” will cover it, since there are things that cannot be subject to it. Although it is not clear what they are. Also, if the court were to throw it out, it would just be another in a long line of “slights” that she will use to justify yet another referendum on separation. So she will win either way. It will not cost her any votes since the people opposed would not vote for her party anyway. The votes it gains would be from her supporters who might not get and vote.

Another plank in her platform is this. It is already the case that only certified English speaking families can send their kids to English language public schools. She is promising that in the first hundred days of her reign, she will add the junior colleges to this law. Can the universities be far behind? The hidden purpose of this is to prevent French Canadians from gaining enough command of English to be able to readily leave the province. Since the French Canadians seem to support this, I guess the intended victims are the immigrants. Who will be needed in large numbers to support the retirement explosion. Nobody disputes this last claim. They want and need the immigrants, but fear the demographic changes they can bring.

I want to play devil’s advocate here for a moment:
Why is banning religious artifacts , whether garb or object, a bad thing? Assuming that government is secular then the following would have to be considered wouldn’t it?

  1. Public employees draw their wage from the taxpayer’s who are, ostensibly, all of us.

  2. Public employees are representative of those same taxpayers, and are supposedly hired based on ability not race, religion, sex, or age.

  3. If I belong to a religious tribe diametrically opposed to a public employees is it acceptable that they could flaunt their religion in my face when I have to deal with them? I’m being a little extreme here, but think Wiccan/Christian or an an athiest as an example. Perhaps keeping your religious tenets to yourself isn’t all that bad.:confused:

That being said she’s still a twit , imho.

Okay, you’re right. State-enforced atheism for all. Round up all those religious folks and stick them into camps.

Seriously, you’re asking me to explain why freedom of religion is a good thing?

That’s not exactly what Mme. Marois is proposing. It appears she only wants to ban non-Christian symbols. Which is consistant with making Christianity the official religion of Quebec, not with secularism.

That’s the problem–some people don’t see banning the expression of religion in public as being against the concept of freedom of religion. It’s kinda the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” variety of religious tolerance. It’s big in France, for sure.

Curious, Is it only Crucifixes allowed, or are Protestant unadorned crosses allowed to?

Apparently so.

The law is just about the vilest, most cynical thing a Canadian political party has put forth in the last fifty years.

While there’s little doubt Pauline Marois is a ferocious racist in an inherently racist party, the intent of the law really isn’t bigotry; it’s meant to be shot down by the courts. They’re quite open in their intent to pick battles with the courts and the federal government they will probably lose, so that they can say “look, federalism doesn’t work.” The PQ is the Republican Party of Quebec; they want to make government not work to convince people to change it.

My first thought was “criss de cunt!”. She seems to argue that because something is linked to Quebec heritage, it isn’t a religious symbol. Wtf?

It’s too bad the PQ is down to using this sort of thing. Perhaps they’re afraid of other smaller parties being even more nationalistic.

I’m not sure the PQ is inherently racist. It is nationalist. The concept of a nation can either be based on ethnicity or citizenship and without an independent country, there is no citizenship which only leaves ethnicity as a basis for the nation as long as it doesn’t have an independent country.

It is doubtless that there are racist elements and in this case, they seem to be going strong. It is the party of nonracist nationalists, racist nationalists, certain kinds of social democrats, labourites, commies and whiny students.

Just found this:
A PQ candidate says that they will not legislate according to the opinions of Canadian judges but according to Quebecers’ interests.

Did I miss a link somewhere?

If the charter included crucifixes as well as everything else, and was only intended for public employees during working hours, I would be totally ok with it.

I could also see extending it to candidates for public office at any official campaign events.

First, get your proper sexist slur. It is not "criss de cunt’, it is “criss de plotte”. :smiley:

(bolding mine)
There are hardly any members of the left that are still in the PQ since the mid-80s, when they decided that power was more important than doing the right thing and welcomed with open arms and excessive back-leaning the remaining right wing nationalists.

It’s like she’s entirely forgotten what the Quiet Revolution was all about. If there’s one person in this province unworthy of any respect whatsoever, it’s Pauline F. Marois. I really wish she’d just go away already.

“Plotte” is no good and I never use it. I use “cunt” because it’s a great sound for an insult.

Are you saying that the FTQ and CSN (major labor federations) are not chiefly aligned with the PQ? It can hardly be with the other major parties.

What are the elements do you dislike about her?

Seriously, you’re using reductio ad absurdem to respond? I’m merely endulging in a thought exercise. I believe that if the tenets of your religion require you to carry, say, a knife or wear specific head coverings like the Sikhs or certain Muslim sects and it has no safety implications ( being caught in machinery, using ppe, or working as a corrections officer would be examples off the top of my head) then get your freak on.

However, if you are a representative of a secular organization (I’m thinking primarily about government positions here), overtly displaying religious icons/garb/artifacts is inherently contradictory, is it not?

Ms. Marois stance is, as noted above, xenophobic and extremely offensive. It certainly does make for good news fodder, though.