Charte des valeurs québécoises – Round-up

While irresponsible and playing to xenophobia, seems to be working politically for the PQ, particularly among francophones. Early days, and we will see how the debates and discussions play out, but not encouraging.

Sondage Léger-Le Devoir – La Charte relance le PQ | Le Devoir.

A strong opinion piece in Le Devoir by a group of academics noting the exclusionary nature of the proposed Charter:

Nous sommes fiers de l’héritage culturel et politique distinct du Québec. Cet héritage inclut la Charte québécoise des droits et libertés de la personne, qui garantit déjà les droits individuels, notamment l’égalité entre les hommes et les femmes ainsi que la liberté de conscience. D’ailleurs, ces principes sont plus que des « valeurs » subjectives : ils forment des impératifs de justice. Il est désolant que le gouvernement tente de porter atteinte à ces impératifs à des fins électorales en attisant des tensions […]. Nous attendons plutôt de nos décideurs qu’ils se fassent les porteurs d’une vision s’appuyant sur notre héritage dans l’élaboration de politiques publiques justes, inclusives et ambitieuses.

Charte des valeurs québécoises – Une mauvaise réponse à un faux problème

And general commentary in The Toronto Star about the Charter, origins and likely impact:

In Quebec, religious ‘accommodations’ debate heats up

And good commentary by Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail, noting just how counterproductive an approach to integration such a Charter represents:

Worse, though: If we take seriously the goal of eradicating religion from public life, this is a terrible approach. Any smart politician knows that the way to get voters to switch sides is not to insult them for having the stupidity to support the other party. It’s to make your side seem welcoming. This applies doubly in the battle against religious authority: We’re not going to convert people by humiliating and enraging them.

And the non-confrontation approach is working – fantastically so. The past 10 years saw the proportion of Canadians without religion rise by more than 50 per cent, to a quarter of the population; the same is happening in every developed country.

We didn’t make this progress by insulting the religious; rather, we got here by tolerating them and making secular reason appear the more moral and humane option. … The way to win an argument is not by ordering your opponents to shut up. It’s by getting them on your side.

 Quebec’s slapdash bid for secularism doesn’t even work 

Citizenship and International Migration Reading List Updated

A good reading list for those interested.

Flophouse Citizenship and International Migration Reading List Updated.

Do the name and ethnicity of your doctor matter?

On the practical side of multiculturalism and diversity, choice of doctors.

While most of the long-standing members of my cancer medical team are Caucasian, the newer group of doctors, fellows, interns and nurses are much more diverse. Issues that sometimes comes up, not with the Canadian-born but with some foreign-born doctors, include language fluency and experience in how to discuss difficult medical issues, but both are a matter of learning through doing, not issues of medical competence. And generally, the newbies spend more time with you as part of their development, which can be helpful.

Do the name and ethnicity of your doctor matter?.

Quebec seeks singular identity in a polyglot world – The Globe and Mail

Another commentary on long-standing identity issues in Quebec by Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe. Quote:

There is something deeply French, in the widest sense of the term, in this proposed charter. The approach springs from civil law, Catholic and even Cartesian inspirations: that there are abstract values and universalistic rules to which the complexity of the human experience must be adapted – in contrast to the common-law approach, whereby the law emerges from real-life situations and evolves over time.

Fitting reality to concept, rather than the other way around, has contributed over the past 50 years to the existential debates over Quebec’s identity – debates that have also played out in federal politics with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and vocabulary such as “distinct society” pushed by Quebec politicians.

Quebec seeks singular identity in a polyglot world – The Globe and Mail.

Daily round-up on Charte des valeurs québécoises

Usual daily round-up, starting with expression of concern from Prime Minister Harper:

Charte des valeurs: «le gouvernement souverainiste cherche la chicane avec Ottawa», dit Harper | Stéphanie Marin | Politique.

Followed by a nice contrast piece between PM Harper’s caution and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s forthright and clear position, and where he drew parallels between MLK’s I have a dream speech and the implied segregation of the proposed Charter. This of course inflamed some of the Quebec intelligentsia and politicians, but Trudeau has a point:

A tale of two politicians: Harper and Trudeau wade into controversial Quebec issue

And the réplique (and ongoing sensitivity about the Trudeau legacy and family) in Quebec:

Charte des valeurs: Lisée lance un appel au calme

The Quebec Liberal Party seems to be holding to its position against the proposed Charter:

Signes religieux: Couillard réaffirme la position traditionnelle du PLQ

And lastly – if you have lasted this long – short commentary by Charles Taylor, one of the leading philosophers and thinkers on multiculturalism, and how he despairs of the political class and its limited world view:

La question est de savoir qui va rédiger cette charte. Si c’est rédigé par l’Assemblée nationale actuelle, je n’en veux pas. [gras] Ce sont des gens qui ont des idées tellement bornées…dans la plupart des cas. Ça me fait pleurer comme Québécois d’entendre ce qu’eux entendent par laïcité.

Les fines nuances de Charles Taylor

One Canada vs. the multicultural mosaic – Local – The Prince Albert Daily Herald

Commentary by Salim Mansur, one of the critics of Canadian multiculturalism, building upon former Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s vision of “unhyphenated” Canadian identity.

Mansur mischaracterizes Canadian multiculturalism as being anything goes, all cultures equal etc. He fails to acknowledge that recognizing other cultural identities within common Canadian legal and other frameworks, integration can be enhanced as it is not an absolute either/or requirement. Again, while cultural expressions like food and folklore, or a general tolerance for religious symbols (save the niqab), these all take place within a Canadian context. Yes, there are excesses, some individuals and groups push for more, but major deepening of multiculturalism to allow religious based family courts or funding for faith-based schools were rejected). The Canadian model works better than any of the European models with range from unitary (France) to deep multiculturalism (Holland at one time).

He is right, of course, that today’s world – free communications, specialty TV channels, cheap travel – make it easier for people to maintain their identity of origin. And he is right to flag the risks of excessive accommodation to overall integration.

Not a balanced article but one view.

One Canada vs. the multicultural mosaic – Local – The Prince Albert Daily Herald.

Islamic fundamentalism: Stories of zealotry | The Economist

Short review of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories From the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism, by Karima Bennoune. Captures some of the harrowing and destructive stories of fundamentalist excess. Quote:

She is not alone in noticing that Western responses to Islamic troubles often fall into one of two traps: they either blame the religion or blame the West for stunting the Muslim world. But this raises the question of what an appropriate response to Islamic travails should look like. Ms Bennoune seems to imply that the West would do well to encourage non-fundamentalist readings of Islam. If the weed of fundamentalism cannot be uprooted, then it is wise to make sure that the other plants in the garden are in good health.

Islamic fundamentalism: Stories of zealotry | The Economist.

Tolerating intolerance in Quebec- Round-up of Articles

Ongoing commentary on the proposed Charte des valeurs québécoises, starting with an editorial in the Ottawa Citizen criticizing the federal government for its relative silence:

Tolerating intolerance in Quebec.

Andrew Coyne, also in the Citizen, notes the ugly side of identity-based policies, and how that is a ‘hazard of nationalism’, and that it is not unique to Quebec given other examples (e.g., Canadian nationalism’s efforts to contrast everything with America, whether Obama was ‘black’ enough, difference feminism).

Coyne on Quebec: When minorities impose their will on other minorities

And some signs of weakness from the main opposition party in Quebec, the Liberals, in softening their earlier strong position opposed to the proposed Charte:

Signes religieux: la position du PLQ «évolue»

And a more positive opinion piece on the universality of humanity rather than the focus on difference, but overly so in not acknowledging that people have different ways, including faith, that bring them to the universal. Not one size fits all.

La réplique › Charte des valeurs québécoises – Le pare-brise est toujours plus grand que le rétroviseur

Think-tank calls for immigration reform

To vary things up, another study from the Fraser Institute regarding costs of immigration. Other studies show lower costs, and there are differences between short-term costs and longer-term benefits. And of course, some communities integrate better and faster than others.

Think-tank calls for immigration reform.

Charte des valeurs québécoises – Range of articles and opinions

Lots of articles on the proposed Charte des valeurs québécoises today.

Starting with the petty, Bernard Landry’s rant against English Canada’s correct characterization of the proposed Charte as xenophobic.

Charte des valeurs québécoises – Landry fustige le Canada anglais | Le Devoir.

Paul Wells of Macleans takes his arguments down, noting that there is a rich debate within Quebec about the wisdom or not of such an approach, and stating this in Quebec/Rest of Canada terms is just an effort, cynical, to increase support.

Quebec’s latest turban controversy

A more reasonable approach, based on Bouchard-Taylor’s laïcité ouverte is picked up by Montreal municipal leaders, not surprisingly given the diversity of Montreal and how accommodation issues are largely matter of fact, in contrast to rural Quebec.

Les élus demandent une «laïcité à l’image de Montréal»

And the extreme position of a self-described militant laïque, Daniel Baril, which speaks for itself, as it assumes incompatibility with religious belief and performing one’s job, in government or out. Bit like the extreme atheism of Richard Dawkins is an extremist religion in itself.

Oui à une charte de la laïcité… avec correctifs