How Marois made a prophet out of Pierre Trudeau and other Charter articles

A round-up of Charter-related articles, starting with Paul Adams reminding us of the blind end of ethnic and identity politics:

…. progressives are reluctant to give Stephen Harper credit for much of anything. But one bit of data in a recent Ipsos Reid poll has startling implications: the Conservatives are in a comfortable first place among foreign-born Canadians.

I defy you to find another developed country where a conservative party — and one with a populist past to boot — can claim such an achievement.

Whether it was moral insight or political advantage that led Harper to turn his back on the Reform Party’s red streak of xenophobia doesn’t really matter. He made a choice that was immensely important to that young woman in the supermarket, whether we wish to acknowledge it or not.

Marois and Drainville have made a different choice. And they’ve made a prophet of Pierre Trudeau, the man who predicted Quebec’s political nationalism would lead inevitably to an ethnic dead end.

How Marois made a prophet out of Pierre Trudeau | iPolitics.

And good commentary from Emmett Macfarlane of University of Waterloo, noting that judges also have an ideology and biases, similar to the arguments I make in Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism with respect to public servants:

It is a myth Ms. L’Heureux-Dubé herself helped propagate when she was interviewed before the House of Commons standing committee on justice in 2004, which was examining reform to the Supreme Court appointments process. Asked about the role ideology might play in judging, L’Heureux-Dubé stated: “We talk about ideology, but very few of us [judges] have any. You may not perceive that, but we look at a case by first reading and knowing the facts and then reading the briefs, and then we make up our minds.”

A generous interpretation of these comments would not take them as literal – everyone has an ideology, it is what allows us to make sense of the world around us – but rather as a suggestion that judges can simply separate themselves from ideology and apply the law (as a thing somehow autonomous from politics) in an objective fashion. But would anyone seriously believe that if Ms. L’Heureux-Dubé were on the Court today she would refrain from upholding the Quebec Values Charter as constitutional?

It sometimes appears that judges would like to have their constitutional cake and eat it too. By supporting the notion that courts can reach the “correct” answer on where broad constitutional phrases like “freedom of expression” begin and end – often settling controversies about which reasonable people might reasonably disagree – by somehow detaching themselves from their political ideology, we are presented with a caricature of judges as infallible oracles.

 Secular Charter case shows Supreme Court judges can be ideological – and wrong

And some general updates on the debates and discussion in Quebec, starting with hospitals wanting a general exception:

Charte des valeurs: les hôpitaux veulent une exemption

Lysiane Gagnon noting how the proposed Charter has created a feminist rift between radical and liberal feminists:

In Quebec, a feminist rift over secularism

Gerry Weiner, former multiculturalism minister during the Mulroney government who negotiated the Japanese Canadian redress agreement and led the development of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, is harshly critical of the proposed Charter:

“In the name of separation of church and state, the charter presents the government with a way to abandon the previous policy of tolerance and respect for minority communities that has been an integral part of Quebec for many decades.

“Instead the charter proposes a policy of uniformity, a policy of enforced assimilation, and a contempt for minority values—vilifying them as outsiders and not a part of the real Quebec,” he told his audience who during WW II were vilified and interned in war camps as being dangerous outsiders, where not a shred of intelligence justified such an action.

He noted that he is worried that this is a policy that will divide the province, “that it could strip away decades of building a caring society, of returning us to the Quebec of my youth filled with hate, discrimination, and indifference.  It had taken many decades to become what we are today, with a wonderful quality of life.”

Weiner says Quebec charter to break up Canada

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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