Chris Selley: Pauline Marois’ alternate reality, Farzana Hassan’s Endorsement of the Charter

Good summary by Chris Selley of some of the reasonable accommodation issues that have arisen in Quebec over the past years, and a reminder that the proposed Charter would not address any of them:

But finally, this week, Mr. Couillard seemed to gain some traction. “If the PQ is saying you can’t work with something on your head that doesn’t please certain people, the logical conclusion is that you will be fired if you don’t do it,” he said. Indeed. Also: If you lower the speed limit on Highway 401 from 100 to 90, people might get tickets for going 100. Also: If you mandate a six-month minimum sentence for people who grow six marijuana plants, people might get six-month sentences for growing six marijuana plants. See how this works?

The incoherence is to some extent understandable. Like all effective wedge policies, the PQ’s secularism charter invites people to project content, motivations and outcomes on to it that aren’t really there. Janette Bertrand thinks it will prevent rich Muslims from taking over private swimming pools and barring women from them. Commentator Tarek Fatah thinks it will combat “Saudi-based Islamism” — which it theoretically might, if indeed Saudi-based Islamists are “us[ing] the freedom of religion clauses enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ‘impose their political agenda’ in Quebec,” but which hardly explains it targeting Jews and Sikhs as well.

Chris Selley: Pauline Marois’ alternate reality | National Post.

And Farzana Hassan’s different take in The Sun, similar to Tarek Fatah’s (I say ‘Vote PQ to save Canada’!).

While I can understand the visceral fear some have given past experience in their country of origin (and have spent enough time in Saudi Arabia and Iran to appreciate this), I can’t understand just how far Tarek and Farzana take this fear.

For example, the nurse who took my blood sample this week wore a hijab. She works in a mixed environment, provides service to women and men, and whether or not she chooses to wear a hijab is irrelevant, as it is for others who provide public services of other faiths who wear a kippa, turban, or cross.

Part of our national identity includes religious freedom, subject of course to the balance of other freedoms, and religious “headgear” is largely not a problem (apart from the niqab):

Many religious people do not feel obliged to wear or display their religious symbols at work, one of the exceptions being devout Muslims, who have distinct religious attire they consider mandatory.

In fact, the Quebec charter seems mainly aimed at fundamentalist Muslims, who often seek to advance a political agenda rather than simply express pious serenity through their dress.

In my view, invoking the notwithstanding clause to counter this assertive religiosity is desirable.

Using the Quebec values charter would help check the spread of patriarchal values and the virtual segregation of women.

If you are a hijabi or niqabi worried about this, rest assured Islam does not mandate the veiling of women.

Marois may appear xenophobic to some and a liberator to others, but her nationalistic zeal has shown Canada a way to preserve its own identity.

The rest of Canada should also move to ban such religious symbols from public display.

Sun News : Quebec’s values charter is a good idea.


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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