Postscript: Size matters in a secular Quebec
Executive Producer Barry Wilson, CTV Montreal
Published Tuesday, September 10, 2013 3:33PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 10, 2013 6:53PM EDT
I somehow see PQ Minister Bernard Drainville as a school yard bully intent on picking a fight – and once again, minorities are the target.
The PQ Charter of Quebec Values is designed to divide. There is no urgent need to open this can of worms. The only reason the government wants to take us down this dangerous road is for electoral gain. Pauline Marois and her ministers see this as the path to a majority. And if that happens, God help us. If God is still allowed to intervene in the affairs of State, that is.
The government has come up with a handy little guide to determine what is permitted and what is not. You thought our sign law was stupid with its measuring tape requirements; this is just way over the top.
According to the PQ fashion guide, wearing a small cross is legal and so are small Muslim earrings and a ring featuring the Star of David.
What are not legal are larger sized crosses. I am not sure who will determine what is appropriate in the secular Quebec but, obviously size matters. Kippahs are out too. Turbans, forget about it. And the same with headscarves. We will have language police and fashion police. You couldn’t make this stuff up. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.
The minister says institutions will be allowed to apply for five-year exemptions. At first blush, it seems like a good idea, but the danger is that schools or hospitals that opt out will become marginalized and ghettoized. Perhaps funding will be cut or reconsidered. Either get in line or suffer the consequences. Economic opportunity and ability to make a living will be curtailed and restricted. There would be subtle and not-so-subtle pressure on the private sector.
What’s even more dangerous is the plan to entrench all of this in the Charter of Rights. That means it would affect the way courts deal with the issue particularly, with regard to freedom of religion.
To his credit, Federal Minister Jason Kenny said Tuesday they would challenge any law deemed unconstitutional that violates the fundamental constitutional guarantees to freedom of religion. But Quebec would use that as another sign of federal interference in its affairs and another reason to pick a fight.
In just one year, this government has accomplished enough to make Monty Python proud.
The challenge now will be for the opposition parties to hammer home that it’s the economy, stupid. Anti-English language laws and silly charters only make people want to leave or not come in in the first place. Money avoids uncertainty and social turmoil.
The next Quebec election will not come soon enough. And then we can only hope and pray if necessary that right-minded voters will deliver their own value judgment on this government.