Quebec reopens its identity can of worms – Gagnon

Appropriately cutting commentary by Lysiane Gagnon:

What’s the link between an Islamist terrorist and a daycare worker who wears the hijab? Any sensible person would find the question utterly silly, but not Quebec’s radical secularists – and they’re at it again.

Here they are, shamelessly exploiting the terrorist attacks in Paris that left 12 dead three weeks ago, calling for a ban on religious symbols – as if such a ban was some sort of guarantee against potential terrorist attacks. (If it were, France wouldn’t have been targeted so often by home-grown terrorists, since it has the most stringent secular policies by far in the Western world.)

The blood of the Paris victims wasn’t even dry when Quebec’s radical secularists, led by the Parti Québécois opposition, began campaigning for some sort of revival of the secular charter that died when former premier Pauline Marois’s government was defeated after months of divisive and emotional debate.

The PQ, knowing full well that Premier Philippe Couillard is uncomfortable with identity politics, is pushing the government to pass legislation his Liberals promised, unwisely, before the election. The legislation, a much milder version of the PQ charter, would forbid public-sector employees to cover their faces (a non-existent problem) and set rules for “reasonable accommodations” between institutions and religious customers or employees (a problem that’s already been solved by local administrations).

Quebec reopens its identity can of worms – The Globe and Mail.

And Don Macpherson of the Gazette, on some of the internal PQ politics following Jean-François Lisée’s decision to pull out of the leadership race:

On sovereignty, Lisée said, the PQ had to “look the situation in the face.” It had to win the support of young people, who have “turned their backs on us,” and minorities, which “do not recognize themselves in us.” It had to accept the possibility that even with hard work, it might not win a mandate in the 2018 general election to hold a referendum.

The party had to “re-examine the contours of our project,” with a referendum process negotiated with the rest of Canada and “real independence,” with a Quebec currency as well as a Quebec citizenship. It had to end its “ambiguity on its identity” and show clearly that it is left-of-centre, environmentalist and humanist. It could no longer be against climate change and for developing shale oil.

And while the PQ continued to fight against the decline of French and for secularism, it had to have “a more open attitude” toward the English-speaking community and “a more active one” on the integration of immigrants.

But, Lisée said, there was no point in his going on; the election in May had already been decided, and Pierre Karl Péladeau had won. Lisée spoke with resignation and a trace of bitterness about the PQ wanting to “live its Pierre Karl Péladeau moment right to the end.” It was as if the PQ was infatuated with his rival for its affections, a passion against which Lisée was helpless and hopeless.

Don Macpherson: The PQ is determined to have its PK Peladeau moment

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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