Anti-Charter groups criticize Les Janette
Published Wednesday, October 16, 2013 3:18PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 16, 2013 6:33PM EDT
The latest salvo in the secularism debate being waged in Quebec entails several groups and individuals denouncing the tactics and ignorance displayed by supporters of the Charter of Quebec Values.
This week a group calling itself Les Janette issued a public letter arguing that existing laws regarding gender equality, a right enshrined in Quebec's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are inadequate because they put religious freedom on the same level. The group, led by actress Janette Bertrand and containing well-known celebrities such as Julie Snyder and Djemila Benhabib, said that a law banning religious icons among public servants was necessary because no muslim woman voluntarily wears a hijab.
Those who believe in religious freedom and who are dismayed by the bitter provincial argument that has consumed the public sphere since the Parti Quebecois launched its Charter of Values are fighting back.
The group Les Inclusives, which already had an active petition against the Charter, has a fresh letter denouncing the semantic sleight-of-hand committed by Les Janette.
"It is our belief that the emancipation of women cannot be done through the imposition of a paternalistic measure such as banning the wearing of ostentatious religious symbols," writes the group.
"It is also seriously inappropriate to trace a parallel between the right to vote and the legislation that will be imposed on public servants. While the methods are similar, the goals are diametrically opposed."
Journal Métro columnist Judith Lussier, who signed the Quebec Inclusif document, wrote a further letter saying she was dismayed, personally in Bertrand -- saying she felt she had lost a personal hero, one who had given her the courage to admit her homosexuality to her family.
"The contributions you have made to Quebec society give you not only the right to express yourself on the Charter of Values, but also the responsibility. However this responsibility comes with the necessity to be adequately informed," wrote Lussier, adding that Bertrand is misinformed concerning reasonable accommodations.
A columnist in the weekly newspaper Voir, Simon Jodoin, harshly criticizes the Charter of Values and those who support it.
He writes that the Parti Quebecois deliberately gave free rein to hate speech and acts of hatred being perpetrated, in increasing numbers, against women who wear veils.
His harshest words are for the five members of the committee responsible for the Charter, namely Bernard Drainville, Diane De Courcy, Maka Kotto, Jean-François Lisée and Pierre Duchesne.
"They had the responsibility to begin a reasonable debate based on a detailed list of problems," concerning religious accommodations wrote Jodoin.
Instead they provided "no analysis, no document, no list of facts, not even a hint of statistics. They talk of 'several cases' that were 'well-publicized' and that was all."
"These officials quite simply provoked an outpouring of distress."
Jodoin also wondered why Drainville is spending months reading 25,000 comments made by Quebecers concerning the Charter, and yet never providing any hint of what the public thinks.
"These are three ex-journalists," wrote Jodoin, who have quickly become members of a conspiracy of silence.