Quebec Values Charter: Politics and Strategy

A number of pieces on the politics of the Charter, starting with Graeme Hamilton of the National Post:

From the man who last September forcefully staked out an opposition position, saying the proposed charter of values would pass “over my dead body,” Mr. Couillard has been dragged onto the PQ’s preferred populist terrain.

Now, his declarations of principle are qualified. “Quebec is an open and inclusive host society,” he told reporters at one point, “but Quebecers want the values of the host society to affirm themselves and be preserved in the expression of religious freedom of all Quebecers.”

Graeme Hamilton: Anyone doubting the PQ is winning with the Values Charter only needed listen to the Liberals on Tuesday | National Post.

Lysiane Gagnon in The Globe takes a similar bent:

The Machiavellian plan of the PQ strategists is working: Take a wedge issue that will remobilize your base of core supporters, play on the widespread negative feelings toward visible immigrants (Muslims especially) while pretending to serve the noble goals of secularism and gender equity, ride on the instinctive reactions of the “real people” against the “disconnected elites” and there you are.

At first, most observers couldn’t believe the PQ would dare run an election campaign on the backs of minorities, but this is what will happen. The plan is unfolding as it should: The parliamentary commission that is currently studying the bill will continue for more than two months – long enough to keep the issue alive until early spring, when the government could call an election.

The minister responsible for the secular bill, Bernard Drainville, announced at the outset that he wouldn’t make compromises, not even with the Coalition Avenir Québec, the third party that proposes to limit the ban to teachers.

Indeed, the government doesn’t want the bill to be adopted, so that the issue can serve as an election platform plank and maybe as a pretext to call a spring election, on the grounds that the government needs a majority to pass the popular bill.

Wedge politics are the PQ’s best friend 

L’appui à la Charte ne se dément pas

See also, Chantal Hébert’s Stars aligning for Marois to call snap Quebec election: Hébert.

In other Charter related news, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre continues to criticize the Charter (Coderre attaquera de front la Charte de la laïcité), the Liberal Party of Quebec clarifies its watered down stand (Le PLQ revendique la liberté totale de porter des signes religiousQuebec Liberal leader clarifies the party’s stance on the PQ values charter),  a comparison between Fatima Houda-Pépin and Maria Mourani, coming from different positions, both left their political parties (Houda-Pepin et Mourani, même combat).

Further commentary from the perspective of some in the GBLT community (Une laïcité ouverte… à la démagogie):

Rien n’est plus faux que de prétendre que c’est l’affirmation de la laïcité qui est une menace pour les minorités sexuelles. Nos communautés savent trop bien qu’« Étant donné la prégnance de la morale religieuse, les personnes homosexuelles sont demeurées longtemps dans l’ombre. La doctrine religieuse servait alors de caution à leur stigmatisation », comme le rappelait dès les premières lignes le rapport du Groupe mixte de travail sur l’homophobie. Et elles comprennent bien que ce sont ceux qui s’acharnent à défendre les privilèges religieux, qui s’alignent objectivement sur le programme de Stephen Harper en attaquant la laïcité, qui constituent la véritable menace à nos droits.

One of the more extreme secular testimony at the hearings, given by a woman of Tunisian origen, Rakia Fourati (La charte serait «nécessaire» pour prévenir l’intégrisme):

« Qu’il soit rouge, vert, noir, porté d’une façon élégante avec des boucles d’oreille, avec un maquillage ou sans maquillage, ça reste toujours un symbole […] qui est l’intégrisme, qui est la soumission sous toutes ses formes », a soutenu mardi la femme d’origine tunisienne devant les membres de la commission parlementaire chargée d’étudier la charte de la laïcité du gouvernement péquiste.

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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