My Take: Couillard Pitches Charter Lite

My speculation on what will and will not be included in Premier Couillard’s proposed Charte de laicité:

Will the new premier be able to develop an approach that responds to the concerns of many Quebeckers, while respecting the fundamental rights of each Quebecker, regardless of their religion? Former PQ Premier Pauline Marois, ironically, paved the way by showing the limits to identity-based politics in Quebec.

By moving early in his mandate, while the PQ is occupied in its post-election reflections, and the CAQ is trying to position itself as the main opposition party, Couillard has a unique opportunity to help Quebec to move past the divisive debate over the previous Charter.

Couillard Pitches Charter Lite – New Canadian Media – NCM

The Globe, on the other hand, takes a similar position to Haroon Siddiqui of the Star (Philippe Couillard is in a secular charter mess of his own). Globe’s editorial board wants Couillard to drop his idea of a Quebec Charte de laicité. Never sure how helpful or relevant such editorials are when, as one of the first commitments of a newly-elected Premier, Couillard will press ahead. Likely more productive to note one’s opposition but recognize the reality, and focus more on the form and content:

Mr. Couillard should leave it there. If he truly feels that the combined force of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Quebec Bill of Human Rights and Freedoms, the courts and the ongoing maturation of modern Quebec society are not enough to manage the reasonable accommodation of minority religious rights in Quebec, then perhaps his government can make itself feel better (and keep the PQ quiet) by adopting an anodyne motion restating that Quebec’s government is secular and that men and woman are equals. But the smarter play is to just wait. After six months go by, and then another six, and then a few years, and Quebeckers realize the supposedly imminent threats that the Charter of Values was purported to be a bulwark against never existed in the first place, they will lose interest in the subject and develop even more of a distaste for politicians who play the identity card.

Couillard should bury the Charter of Values – The Globe and Mail.

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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