Oh no.

This sounds way too familiar. We have been down this road before. A Quebec bill from a Liberal government that clearly would not pass the constitutional muster, Ottawa itching to get involved, and a threat of using the notwithstanding clause.

In 1988, The Supreme Court in the Ford versus Quebec decision ruled that multilingual signage was legal, so the Liberal government over rode the constitutional and the Canadian Charter by invoking the notwithstanding clause, exempting Quebec from the ruling. Bill 178, the indoor outdoor sign law, was passed and all hell broke loose, including the beginning of the end to the Meech Lake constitutional accord.

“It was not easy. It was never easy to deal with language in Quebec,” said former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa.

Nor was it easy to deal with identity, obviously.

Are we headed in that direction again over Bill 62, the silliest law to come out of Quebec City in years?

I am still trying to understand what the minister means. Her so-called clarifications this week left me even more baffled.

“If you don’t get on, you don’t get kicked off,” said Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee.

You can’t be kicked off a bus if you aren’t allowed on in the first place. That makes sense. Brilliant.

Even the prime minister can’t figure out amateur hour in Quebec City; his comment: “You call those clarifications?”

You see, it’s not about the veil and plenty of people abhor them. It’s about living in country that, given reasonable exceptions, should not force someone to take it off or force someone to wear one.

A word of advice to you, Mr. Premier: stay away from the notwithstanding clause. And put the brakes on your runaway identity train. It leads no where you want to go.

Obscene comments

This guy makes Fred Flintstone look like a renaissance man.

Quebec court judge Jean Paul Braun does not deserve to sit on the bench. We expect our judges to be fair impartial and wise.

His comments to a teenage sexual assault victim were none of those. They were obscene.

He said, “She’s a young girl, 17. Maybe she’s a little overweight but she has a pretty face, no?” She was “a bit flattered,” suggesting that perhaps the young victim enjoyed the attention.

These are comments not befitting of a judge. And one hopes the Quebec Judicial Council takes swift action. We still have such a long way to go.

Final days

Finally, we are coming down to the final days of what has become a competitive election campaign in Montreal.

The two candidates engaged in a good debate this past week in English. You see, municipal votes are one of the few elections in which the English-speaking community can actually make a difference. And seeing the two candidates debate in their second language was indeed an encouraging sign.

In the last week, it will come down to momentum, but be careful about the polls.

Just ask Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who was re-elected this month after polls had him up to 17 points behind.

Sometimes it’s good to remember the words of former prime minister John Diefenbaker on polls. He said, “I’ve always been fond of dogs and they are the one animal that knows the proper treatment to give to poles.”