Opinion: Interculturalism reconciles a common culture, diversity

Apart from the usual tired misunderstandings of multiculturalism (again, multiculturalism is about integration, whether it be Quebec and French, or elsewhere in English or French.

Does one really believe that an “interculturalism” law would solve all the accommodation debates and avoid a Bill 21?

Recent calls for the adoption of a law on interculturalism, including by the Quebec Liberal Party’s youth wing, have given rise to fears that such a law would restrict minority rights in Quebec.

Such fears are unfounded. Interculturalism does not restrict minority rights, but rather reaffirms them. It reaffirms, for example, the right of the English-speaking community to maintain its culture and institutions, in particular its universities, hospitals and, especially, its school boards. It is a well thought-out, comprehensive policy framework that is inclusive of all Quebecers.

This policy, which has been promoted by every Quebec government in some form since 1971 and was given new impetus by the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, rests on two pillars.

The first is a common francophone culture, shared political institutions — notably the National Assembly — a common history that started with French exploration of the New World and continued with the development of a modern society that is in good part characterized by cultural diversity.

The second pillar, cultural diversity, recognizes a multiplicity of cultural communities and also accords special status to First Nations, the Inuit and the English-speaking community.

Interculturalism implies the recognition both of the francophone majority and of minorities. It is Quebec’s policy model for integration and the management of diversity.

What is the difference between interculturalism and multiculturalism? The former tries to reconcile a common culture with cultural diversity, while the latter restricts itself to the promotion of cultural diversity. For a national minority like Quebec, which naturally fears marginalization, multiculturalism is not a sufficient guarantee of its survival.

In my view, if the Quebec government were to restrict itself to the promotion of cultural diversity, it would actually hamper its ability to defend the special status of English-speaking Quebecers as a founding minority. The English-speaking community would be seen as one minority among others.

Interculturalism also promotes the social and economic integration of immigrants in French, which is not the case for multiculturalism. As the only francophone society in North America, it is reasonable for Quebec to implement legislation in defence of its language and culture.

Interculturalism places an onus on both institutions and citizens to resolve issues related to cultural differences by engaging with each other rather than through recourse to the courts.

It also informs the way in which we teach history and good citizenship, as it takes into account both the common culture and cultural diversity. It seeks to promote intercultural exchanges, the contribution of cultural diversity to Quebec and the fight against all forms of discrimination.

Some believe that a law on interculturalism is unnecessary, as it is already Quebec’s policy. However, like Canada’s Multiculturalism Act, legislation would allow the affirmation of Quebec’s model, the respect of diversity and the recognition of its founding minorities, and oblige the Quebec government to take into account not only the common culture, but also cultural diversity and the respect of minority rights.

Had Quebec already adopted a law on interculturalism, I believe it would have been much more difficult for the Coalition Avenir Québec government to adopt populist and discriminatory laws such as Bill 21 on secularism and Bill 9 on immigration. An interculturalism law would have established the foundational principles concerning integration and the management of diversity, and would have posed, both legally and logically, an additional obstacle to the CAQ’s policies.

Some believe that the recognition of the francophone majority and minorities is divisive. However, this reflects reality and the government cannot govern only for the francophone majority, nor can it govern only for minorities. It must address both groups’ legitimate interests. What is divisive is the absence of recognition of both groups’ legitimate interests.

This is why we need legislation that strikes a balance between the majority and minorities. We need to affirm a common culture that includes all Quebecers. This is the goal of interculturalism.

Source: Opinion: Interculturalism reconciles a common culture, diversity

Laïcité: le Manitoba veut recruter des employés du secteur public québécois

Not surprising. Premier Pallister has been the most outspoken premier against Bill 21:

Le gouvernement du Manitoba veut recruter des employés du secteur public québécois préoccupés par la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État, qui interdit les signes religieux dans l’exercice de certaines fonctions.

Alors même que la Cour supérieure du Québec rejetait, jeudi, la requête de groupes de défense des libertés civiles et religieuses, qui réclamaient la suspension de la loi, le premier ministre Brian Pallister indiquait que le Manitoba avait besoin de fonctionnaires bilingues.

M. Pallister a promis de s’adresser aux employés de l’État québécois pour les assurer que sa province n’avait pas, elle, de « police du vêtement ». Il a indiqué que des lettres seraient bientôt envoyées aux associations professionnelles du Québec ainsi qu’aux cégeps et autres institutions d’enseignement afin de recruter des Québécois.

La Loi sur la laïcité de l’État, adoptée en juin à l’Assemblée nationale, interdit aux employés de l’État en position d’autorité coercitive, comme les juges, les policiers et les gardiens de prison, de porter des signes religieux dans l’exercice de leurs fonctions ; cette interdiction s’étend aussi aux enseignants du réseau public. Les opposants à la loi affirment qu’elle cible injustement les musulmanes, les sikhs et les autres minorités religieuses.

Le premier ministre Pallister, qui cherche à se faire réélire au Manitoba le 10 septembre, avait déjà affirmé son opposition à la loi québécoise lors de la rencontre estivale des premiers ministres des provinces et territoires, le 11 juillet. Le premier ministre François Legault a rappelé au Conseil de la fédération que la loi est appuyée par une majorité de Québécois et que son parti respectait une promesse électorale.

Jeudi, le juge Michel Yergeau, de la Cour supérieure du Québec, a déclaré que la loi continuerait de s’appliquer jusqu’à ce qu’un tribunal se prononce sur le fond de l’affaire.

En avril, le maire d’Edmundston, Cyrille Simard, invitait dans sa municipalité du nord-ouest du Nouveau-Brunswick les Québécois « qui pourraient rencontrer des obstacles » dans certaines catégories d’emplois. Alex LeBlanc, directeur général du Conseil multiculturel du Nouveau-Brunswick, rappelait alors que le Nouveau-Brunswick vivait notamment une pénurie d’enseignants francophones et bilingues qualifiés, et que de nombreux Québécois pourraient pourvoir ces postes.

Source: Laïcité: le Manitoba veut recruter des employés du secteur public québécois

Ravary: Bill 21 a lucid choice by a mature society after long debate

Including this piece by Ravary as the title and thinking reveal a deep misunderstanding of multiculturalism and integration, the former being a means to the latter.

Quebec public services (healthcare, education and public administration are reasonably representative of visible minorities but as 2011 NHS data shows, religious minority representation is relatively small for most groups (Muslims formed 2.6 percent of the population in 2011)

And of course, while it may be a minority of Quebec public servants affected, it will further accentuate the overall under-representation of religious minorities. “sanctions-light” will not be light to those affected:

Flags and floats have been put away until next year’s Fête nationale. I was never a great partaker — I dislike the combination of big crowds and flag waving — but I have lovely memories of my childhood’s innocent Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

The June French-Canadian liturgical calendar included two big street parties, each with its own procession: the Saint-Jean parade along Sherbrooke Street with its closing tableau of a curly-haired blond boy, dressed up as Jewish preacher John the Baptist, with a lamb at his side. (Children loved it. Beats the more recent puppets.)

The other street party, la Fête-Dieu, held on June 20, also known as the Corpus Christi procession, no longer draws crowds to the streets of Quebec, but 50 years ago, as man was about to conquer the moon, la Fête-Dieu was a still a big deal in Quebec — though it wouldn’t be for much longer.

I am writing this ahead of the Fête nationale, but I suspect the passage of Bill 21 will add pep to the steps of many revellers. I know the new law is not popular with many Montreal Gazette readers, but let’s never forget that many secular Muslims support it.

This having been said, now is not the time for supporters of Bill 21 to gloat. It is also wrong to call for civil disobedience, especially if you are a public official.

The rule of law is the bedrock of democracy.

Many feel that the “moderate way” chosen by the government to signify the separation of church and state in Quebec is a grave attack on individual liberties, but the majority of Quebecers do not share that sentiment, and they cannot be ignored. Unless we want populist leaders à la Orban or Salvini to come along.

Bill 21 is a lucid choice made by a mature society after a 10-year-plus debate, a balancing act between individual rights and the legitimate aspirations of a distinct people to choose how they want to live in their historical homeland.

Francophone Quebecers’ only home on Earth is a piece of land, most of it barren, in the northeast corner of North America. Full-blown multiculturalism, which encourages newcomers to keep their own cultures and does too little to promote integration, would mean the end of an extraordinary experiment that started in 1608, when Samuel de Champlain founded a settlement that would become Quebec City.

In these times of renewed enthusiasm for fundamentalist religious beliefs that go against the grain of Canadian and Québécois values, including those about women and LGBTQ folks held by fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Muslims, Bill 21 aims to formally limit the influence of religion to the private sphere. This is a society that has been working hard to keep all organized religions at bay for more than 50 years.

Even if it meant getting rid of the beloved petit Saint-Jean-Baptiste and his pet lamb.

Bill 21 is the third stage of The Quiet Revolution. In the 1960s, Quebec Catholic priests and nuns stopped wearing traditional religious garb meant to signify penitence and humility, to continue working as teachers or nurses in modernized public education and hospital systems. The second phase was the laicization of Quebec’s school system in 1998 when religious school boards were replaced by linguistic ones. Bill 21 is the third phase of this transformation.

Can it be called unfair? Of course. Only a fool would deny the reality on the ground: some people feel discriminated against. Hence the “no gloating” advice. But let’s also beware of those who will use Bill 21 to further hidden politico-religious agendas.

Many like to cite French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, who described in his 1835 opus Democracy in America the main danger posed by democracy, something he called the “tyranny of the majority.”

But to describe as tyrannical a sanctions-light piece of legislation that restricts the wearing of religious symbols at work by a minority of state representatives seems to me to be at best disingenuous.

Source: Ravary: Bill 21 a lucid choice by a mature society after long debate

Quebec religious symbols law ‘dangerous and un-Canadian,’ says Manitoba premier

Can’t get much stronger than that:

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he will be seeking a joint response to Quebec’s new religious symbols law when western and northern premiers meet on Thursday in Edmonton.

“That is, certainly to my mind, dangerous and un-Canadian and deserves to be opposed,” Pallister said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“We are not a two-tier-rights country.

“We’re not a country that celebrates sameness. We celebrate diversity, and we need to make sure that we don’t restrict people’s freedoms, whether it’s speech or movement or religion.”

The Quebec law prohibits teachers, police officers and other public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, and critics say it unfairly targets Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it’s not government’s responsibility, or in its interest, to legislate on what people should be wearing. But he did not specify what action his government would take to protect minority rights.

Pallister said response from federal politicians has probably been muted in part because of the looming national election in October.

“They don’t wish to irritate the province of Quebec, but Quebec is one province in a beautiful country,” he said.

“Canada is a beacon around the world for supporting freedoms, not suppressing them.”

Source: Quebec religious symbols law ‘dangerous and un-Canadian,’ says Manitoba premier

And Jack Jedwab’s called for stronger messaging from federal leaders:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of the federal opposition parties were cautious in their reaction to Quebec’s legislative ban on religious symbols, Bill 21. That’s probably because of the popularity of the ban amongst Quebec francophone voters who may have an important impact on each party’s political fortunes.

With the exception of the Bloc Québécois, it seems that the preferred approach of the federal party leaders is to reaffirm their respective disagreement with the ban while staying silent about taking action. This stand will not work as we near the start of the federal election campaign in September.

Some party leaders will be tempted to voice their disapproval of the ban while allowing their candidates in Quebec to insist that the provincial government was perfectly within its rights to adopt the legislation. But many Canadians will see this ambiguous line of reasoning for what it is: a cynical excuse for inaction. Voters in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada deserve to know what, if anything, the political parties plan to do about Bill 21. Whatever choice(s) the parties make will certainly have political ramifications both within and outside Quebec.

What should the parties do? It is safe to assume that none of the party leaders will consider recourse to the federal power to disallow the legislation. They would be wise to hold back, as disallowance would delegitimize the democratically elected government of Quebec. The much better alternative is to support court challenge(s) to the law. All federalist parties should take this position regardless of the electoral cost for them in Quebec. Thus far, the Canadian Council of Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have launched a judicial challenge to Bill 21. They deserve support from the federal government.

Despite considerable support for the bill amongst Quebec francophones, a May Leger Marketing survey revealed that a majority of Quebecers weren’t automatically opposed to the idea of submitting it to the courts for an opinion (specifically, 46 per cent of Quebecers didn’t approve of a court reference; 41 per cent were in favour of securing an opinion; and the rest didn’t know or refused to respond). The same survey revealed that important majorities in Quebec and Canada greatly valued the Charter of Rights – which is the basis on which the bill would be challenged.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette will likely describe federal intervention as an unacceptable encroachment on an exclusively Quebec matter. But Bill 21 states that the ban on religious symbols applies “despite certain provisions of the (Canadian) Charter of human rights and freedoms and the Constitution Act, 1982.” This provision justifies intervention on the part of the federal government so as to ensure that constitutional commitments enshrined in the Charter are upheld, regardless of the province in which a citizen resides. To act otherwise would not only weaken freedom of religion but also commitments to other key freedoms in the Charter. If a provincial government outside of Quebec decided to suspend certain rights and freedoms for minority francophones, there would rightly be multiple calls on the federal government to act. The same principle should apply to Bill 21.

Quebecers have been given the impression that the use of the “notwithstanding clause” in Bill 21 means that the issue of fundamental rights is no longer in question. But the clause seeks to dismiss recourse to rights protection, and in no way dismisses the idea that rights are being violated. Minister Jolin-Barrette and Premier François Legault have insisted that the bill does not violate the Quebec or Canadian Charter of Rights. There is good reason to be skeptical. But if they truly believe that, they should have nothing to fear from a court challenge.

Who knows? Maybe the court decision will vindicate them. Either way, the government of Canada and the opposition should give Quebecers and other Canadians an opportunity to find out and make clear their intention to support a court challenge sooner rather than later.

Source: Jedwab: Canadians deserve to know what federal parties will do about Quebec’s Bill 21

After Quebec’s secularism law, Muslim women gather to figure out, ‘What can we do now?’

Interesting vignettes:

The women hold one hand to their chest and the other to their stomach as they’re told to breathe in and then out.

The workshop started with a guided meditation and a short discussion about how to cope emotionally with Quebec’s new secularism law, which bars them from wearing religious symbols at certain jobs. But it’s clear the 20 or so Muslim women here aren’t ready to relax.

A short time later, they’re at the edge of their seats shooting questions at lawyer William Korbatly about the law’s ins and outs.

What they really want to know is how to fight it.

“What is this law? What can we do now?” one woman lets out, shaking her head. “It’s ridiculous. I want us to end this law. It’s unjust.”

Considering social media campaigns — or self-defence

The women begin pitching ideas. Can they go around the law? Are there different ways they can hide their hair, perhaps?

“You put a wig on top of your hijab,” says Mejda Mouaffak, an elementary school teacher, with a laugh.

A social media campaign uniting different faiths (Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity) in solidarity against the law is pitched. Another campaign, to make fun of the law, is suggested. Self-defence workshops are another idea, ones that also touch on verbal attacks and how to react.

The workshop in an empty community centre in a northwestern Montreal neighbourhood ends up lasting nearly two hours longer than planned. The discussions are as nuanced and diverse as its participants, who hail from different backgrounds and ages and practice a range of professions.

Most of them wear a hijab.

‘We can be Muslim and feminist’

The gathering was organized for Muslim women to regroup after Quebec’s new CAQ government pushed through two key pieces of legislation, both affecting people of colour in the province, during a marathon weekend in the National Assembly the week before.

The new secularism law forbids certain groups of public servants — including teachers, police officers and government lawyers — from wearing religious symbols on the job. Critics say it impedes people’s right to practice their religion, and disproportionately targets Muslim women who wear a headscarf.

Participant Sara Hassanien wants to connect with Quebec feminists, a group that has been vocal in favour of the law, particularly in French media.

“I’m trying to tell them that unlike what you’ve always thought … we can be Muslim and feminist,” she said, noting there are about as many reasons women wear the hijab as there are women who do.

‘I totally understand what Quebec has been through’

Hassanien says, on the other hand, it’s important for her community to know the history of Quebec’s difficult relationship with the Catholic church.

“I totally empathize with you,” Hassanien told CBC later, as if addressing Quebec feminists.

“I totally understand what Quebec has been through. I understand that your mothers, your grandmothers, fought so hard for women’s liberation and I support that. I am here to comfort them, to reassure them that we are not ever going to call for going back.”

At the same time, Hassanien says she is tired of feeling like she has to speak for her entire community in spaces where it is under-represented.

‘The consquences can only be absurd’

Korbatly agreed with the women pointing out contradictions they see in the law: that the definition of “religious symbol” is vague and applies more to the Christian cross than the hijab, which they say is more of a practice.

He explained how disrespecting the law could lead to people being fired.

“When you have an absurd law, the consequences can only be absurd,” Korbatly told the group.

He hopes the legal challenge to the law launched last week, which argues Quebec can’t bypass Canadians’ right to religious freedom, will be successful.

Law effectively prevents a teacher’s promotion

Afterward, he told CBC News though the law does not affect him directly — he is Muslim, but does not wear religious garb — he felt it was his duty “to be there, present and give moral and legal support to the community.”

During the discussion he called himself a feminist “through and through.”

Amina B., who wished to withhold her last name because of fear it would affect her employment, is a substitute teacher.

The law effectively prevents her from being promoted to any other public education role in the province. It includes a grandfather clause that protects people hired before March 28, but as soon as they are promoted or access another position covered by the law, it applies.

‘This is shaking me to the core’

Amina had signed up for a two-year online teacher program at the University of Ottawa, but she’s not sure she’ll complete it now.

“If that means I will always have to be a substitute teacher, and that I can’t evolve, what’s the point?”

She came to the workshop because “when you get involved, maybe, you can make things change.”

Hassanien is an ESL teacher for a private company. She says it was important for her to join, too, because “I started to feel helpless about what’s happening on a daily basis to me as a veiled woman in Montreal.”

She says her trips on public transit now fill her with anxiety and fear that she will be harassed. Even strange looks are a cause of stress.

“This is shaking me to the core,” she said.

Spike in public harassment

The event was organized by Hanadi Saad, who founded Justice Femme after the first attempt by a Quebec government to legislate religious garb, when it was led by the Parti Québécois in 2013, to offer legal and psychological support to Muslim women who face harassment.

Since Bill 21, the current law, was introduced in May, her group has seen a spike in the public harassment of Muslim women in Quebec.

“It’s like we opened the door: ‘Now, you can go ahead and discriminate,'” Saad said, calling the law “violent.”‘I feel like they are taking a part of me’

Saad immigrated to Canada with her family 30 years ago during the Lebanese Civil War and has lived in Quebec for 18 years. She says Quebec has been her true home ever since.

But she’ll be visiting Lebanon for the second time in those years this summer and wonders if it’ll feel more like home this time.

“I feel like they are taking a part of me, of my existence,” said Saad, who no longer wears a headscarf. She said it was a decision that took her months.

“To ask these women to take their hijab off, it’s like asking you to take your T-shirt off.”

Saad sees a silver lining, though.

“Now what has to be done, it’s to stand up for our rights as women. We are appropriating our cause; it’s women’s cause. So I will thank this government for what he’s creating, because he’s forcing us to come together.”

Source: After Quebec’s secularism law, Muslim women gather to figure out, ‘What can we do now?’

Singh in a bind as NDP must win over Quebecers that support new secularism law

Good column by Patriquin on Singh’s Quebec dilemna:

Were he a teacher in Quebec and not a politician based in Ottawa, Jagmeet Singh would find it difficult to work.

Thanks to Quebec’s “laicity bill,” which became law Sunday, Singh wouldn’t today be able to secure a teaching position with a turban on his head. Had he held this position prior to March 28, the law’s retroactive date of enforcement, he’d be stuck in grandfather-clause purgatory, allowed to wear his turban and kirpan—but lose this right should he be promoted, demoted or transferred to another position. It’s a cruel and confounding position for Singh. As leader of the NDP, he has significant support in Canada’s second-largest province. Yet he couldn’t so much as teach a Grade 4 class in the province, much less join a Quebec police force, guard prisoners in a Quebec jail or be a judge in a Quebec court. He couldn’t even serve as a liquor inspector.

Oddly, the NDP has been remarkably quiet about the demonstrable impingement of its leader’s fundamental rights. The party issued no press release following the judgment. NDP MPs, Quebec and otherwise, were largely and conspicuously silent on the issue. In 2013, the Parti Québécois of the day introduced its “Quebec values charter,” which would have had a similar negative effect on Singh’s ability to work in Quebec. At the time, the NDP called it “state-mandated discrimination,” with then-NDP leader Tom Mulcair vowing to “fight it all the way.” Yet the current incarnation of the NDP met the newly-minted Quebec law with a volley of crickets. There were no promises from the NDP to mount a challenge of the law should it form a government in October. Dissent was limited to Singh himself, who tweeted and otherwise expressed his “sadness” at its passing.

Unfortunately, there is method to the NDP’s silence. Quebec’s new secularism law is an onerous and cynical piece of legislation that tramples on rights secured by both the Canadian and Quebec charter. As a particularly mean-spirited solution for a non-existent problem—that of creeping religiosity in Quebec society—it serves no other purpose than to prop up the nationalist bona fides of Premier François Legault and his Coalition Avenir Québec government. And yet as grievous as it is, the law is remarkably popular amongst the very people Singh and the NDP must court if they wish to have any chance in the looming October election. In short, denouncing Quebec’s law is tantamount to political suicide, for all parties. That silence you hear from the NDP is the noise of political expediency.

How popular is the new law? Nearly three quarters of Quebecers polled believe judges, prosecutors, police and prison guards shouldn’t be allowed to wear religious symbols, according to a Léger Marketing poll for the CAQ government. (Other polls, notably Angus Reid and CROP, reflect similar levels of support.) In fact, according to the Léger poll, nearly 70 per cent of respondents believed the restriction should go even further to include preschool and kindergarten teachers as well. Here, we must acknowledge a bit of political brilliance, however cynical, on the part of Legault. By not including preschool and kindergarten teachers in the religious symbols ban, the premier has sold the law as a demonstration of restraint and compromise. The law “could have gone further,” he said the other day. “There are people who are a little racist and don’t want to see religious symbols anywhere in public.”

The NDP’s relative silence extends to the Conservative Party. While Conservative leader Andrew Scheer gave Quebec’s secularism bill a light spanking last March, the party made no similar overture upon the bill’s passing into law this week. If anything, the Conservative situation in Quebec is even more fraught than that of the NDP: Scheer is courting voters in the province’s exurbs and hinterland, where support for the law is highest (and, not coincidentally, the presence of actual religious minorities is at its lowest.) Scheer is further hampered by another political reality: laws such as the one passed in Quebec have remarkable support in the rest of the country. It is of no coincidence that former prime minister Stephen Harper, with his campaign-era “barbaric cultural practices” snitch line, wasn’t below a bit of Legault-style demagoguery.

And this silence has infected the Liberals as well, albeit to a lesser extent. In 2013, the mere hint of the PQ’s Quebec values charter provoked Justin Trudeau into writing 600 angry words in the Globe and Mail. This time around, it took being asked by a reporter for Justin Trudeau to denounce Quebec’s law.

In keeping relatively quiet on the political excesses of the current Quebec government, perhaps the NDP and others are simply learning from history. At a French-language debate during the 2015 election campaign, NDP leader Mulcair offered by far the loudest critique of Harper’s anti-niqab stance—and the PQ’s values charter by extension. “No one here is pro-niqab. We realize that we live in a society where we must have confidence in the authority of the tribunals, even if the practice is uncomfortable to us,” Mulcair said.

Mulcair’s was a righteous, nuanced and altogether sensible critique of the very type of identity-based politics practised by Harper then and Legault now. It also doomed the NDP, with Mulcair’s support diving at almost the exact moment he uttered the words. No wonder the current crop of federal leaders are so scared to say anything.

Source: Singh in a bind as NDP must win over Quebecers that support new secularism law

Laïcité: Kenney a fait part de son opposition à Legault

Not surprising and consistent during debates over the PQ’s value charter:

Le premier ministre albertain, Jason Kenney, ne s’est pas gêné pour manifester son opposition à la loi sur la laïcité lors de son tête-à-tête avec François Legault.

C’est ce qu’il a répondu à une question du Nouveau Parti démocratique (NPD), mercredi, à l’Assemblée législative de l’Alberta.

Le porte-parole néo-démocrate en matière de multiculturalisme, Jasvir Deol, s’était levé pour lui demander s’il avait fait part de ses préoccupations à « son nouvel ami » québécois lors de leur rencontre du 12 juin dernier.

Les deux hommes ont tenu une rencontre de travail à Québec, puis soupé ensemble à la résidence officielle de M. Legault.

« Considérant que le premier ministre dit être en train de bâtir une nouvelle amitié avec le premier ministre du Québec, et considérant que les deux ont soupé ensemble mercredi dernier, avant que le premier ministre du Québec ne passe sa fin de semaine à se battre pour forcer l’adoption de sa loi raciste, M. le premier ministre, avez-vous exprimé des préoccupations à votre nouvel ami, le premier ministre du Québec, et lui avez-vous demandé d’abandonner immédiatement ce projet de loi ? » lui a demandé M. Deol.

À cela, M. Kenney a répondu : « Je lui ai fait part de mon opposition, et je pense parler pour la vaste majorité des Albertains quand je dis que nous croyons en la liberté de conscience, et que cette liberté doit être protégée, par exemple, pour les employés de l’État qui portent des signes religieux ostentatoires. »

Loi « haineuse »

M. Deol faisait écho au gazouillis de sa chef, Rachel Notley, diffusé lundi dernier, dans lequel elle dénonce « un jour triste pour le Canada quand le racisme devient loi ».

En Chambre, il a qualifié la loi québécoise de « haineuse », et a exhorté le premier ministre Kenney à la dénoncer sur les réseaux sociaux, ce que M. Kenney n’a finalement pas fait.

Or, Jason Kenney a tenu à rappeler lors de cet échange qu’il a déjà siégé comme ministre de la Citoyenneté, de l’Immigration et du Multiculturalisme sous Stephen Harper, à l’époque de la Charte des valeurs du Parti québécois, et qu’à ce titre, il était prêt à la contester devant les tribunaux.

« Je me suis toujours clairement opposé au projet de loi (du gouvernement Legault sur la laïcité), à cette approche, a-t-il déclaré mercredi. Même que quand j’étais ministre du Multiculturalisme, j’ai menacé publiquement de contester devant les tribunaux la Charte des valeurs du Parti québécois, qui comprenait des dispositions semblables. »

Il a également rappelé à l’opposition néo-démocrate qu’il avait soutenu la cause Multani en 2006, pour que les enfants de religion sikhe puissent porter un kirpan à l’école publique au Québec, et qu’il avait changé les règles pour que le kirpan puisse être porté dans les consulats canadiens, ainsi que dans les hauts-commissariats, partout à travers le pays.

En outre, a-t-il poursuivi, « j’ai appuyé le droit des filles à Montréal de porter le hidjab pour jouer au soccer. […] Mon bilan en cette matière est très clair », a-t-il indiqué.

La loi québécoise sur la laïcité, adoptée le 16 juin dernier, interdit le port de signes religieux aux employés de l’État en position d’autorité. Une enseignante au Québec qui tient à porter le hidjab, par exemple, ne pourra être embauchée par une commission scolaire.

D’ailleurs, le premier ministre François Legault a annoncé dans une entrevue à La Presse vendredi qu’il pourrait mettre une commission scolaire récalcitrante sous tutelle, après que la Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM) eut déclaré qu’elle allait reporter l’application de la loi à 2020.

Ombre sur le Conseil de la fédération ?

L’enjeu de la laïcité pourrait jeter une ombre sur la rencontre annuelle du Conseil de la fédération, qui se tiendra à Saskatoon du 9 au 11 juillet.

En entrevue à La Presse canadienne, M. Deol a dit s’attendre à ce que tous les premiers ministres du Canada dénoncent d’une seule voix la loi votée par le gouvernement Legault.

Traditionnellement, les premiers ministres s’abstiennent de commenter les affaires internes des autres provinces. La situation est d’autant plus délicate que MM. Kenney et Legault sont à discuter d’autres enjeux, tels que le transport de pétrole et la sélection des immigrants.

« C’est discriminatoire […] ce n’est pas ça la laïcité, a plaidé le député d’Edmonton-Meadows. La laïcité rassemble les gens, respecte les religions de façon égale, et non seulement ça, mais elle permet aux gens de […] contribuer à la société », a-t-il dit.

« Clairement, cette loi divise les communautés en criminalisant les choix faits par les minorités », a-t-il ajouté.

Source: Laïcité: Kenney a fait part de son opposition à Legault

In Quebec’s secularism law, an Ontario police force sees a source of recruits

Reminds me of Ontario hospitals doing the same thing during the 2013 PQ charter of values debates:

An Ontario police force will launch a recruiting campaign targeting Quebec residents affected by the province’s new law on religious symbols.

The Peel Regional Police, which covers territory including the cities of Mississauga and Brampton, will conduct a campaign in Quebec after a motion was passed unanimously by the region’s police services board on Friday.

The police force “believes in the values of diversity and inclusion, including the accommodation of religious symbols,” the motion states. It goes on to say that the police board “invites all affected individuals either pursuing or training for a career in policing in Quebec to apply for a career with the Peel Regional Police.”

The motion calls for the police force to place advertising “within Quebec.”

Quebec’s religious symbols law, which was passed last Sunday, will bar public school teachers, government lawyers, judges and police officers from wearing religious symbols while at work.

The Peel Regional Police have just over 2,000 uniformed officers and 800 civilian staff, said Constable Danny Marttini, a spokesperson for the force. They hire approximately 100 new recruits every year, she said.

The police board motion was seconded by Patrick Brown, Brampton’s mayor and the former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, who declared his opposition to Quebec’s law in a statement released Friday.

“We need to send a strong message to proponents of [the secularism law] in Quebec,” the statement says. “This law is an affront to freedom of religion and an infringement of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Brown has also introduced a similar motion with Brampton’s city council for recruiting for the city’s fire and emergency service.

Another motion calls for the city to join a legal challenge to Quebec’s law initiated by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

In his motion advocating for Brampton to join the legal challenge, Brown writes that the city “is ground zero for diversity and Canadian multiculturalism, and [Brampton’s] Council bears a responsibility to stand up in defence of the Canadian multicultural mosaic.”

Those motions will be considered at a council meeting on June 26.

Brown’s statement says the law on religious symbols will prohibit Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others who wear religious symbols from pursuing careers in many public sector jobs.

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec thanked the Peel police force for its action.

“Thanks to the Peel Regional Police for applying the values of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” the organization said on Facebook.

Source: In Quebec’s secularism law, an Ontario police force sees a source of recruits

‘Ground zero for multiculturalism’: Brampton mayor blasts Quebec’s ‘religious symbols’ bill

Not surprising, given the demographics of Brampton:

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown [former Ontario PC leader] is speaking out against the Quebec provincial government’s Bill 21, which prohibits government employees from wearing religious symbols, and is tabling a motion at council’s next meeting to make the position official.

On Friday (June 21), Brown issued a statement strongly condemning Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s provincial government for passing the controversial Bill 21 into law on June 16.

“Bill 21, of course, is the law that will ban Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others who wear symbols of their faith from pursuing careers in numerous public sector jobs,” said Brown in his statement.

Brown, once leader of the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party on Ontario before winning the mayor’s chain last October, also sits on the Peel Police Services Board. He seconded a motion at Friday’s board meeting approving a campaign to recruit Quebec residents interested in a career in policing affected by the new law in that province.

The police board motion also directs Peel police to “place select advertising within Quebec promoting a career at the Peel Regional Police.”

“I was pleased to second the motion at today’s Peel Police Services Board encouraging those Quebec residents interested in a career in policing to apply to Peel Regional Police. We are ground zero for multiculturalism,” added Brown in his statement.

The mayor’s statement included a pair of council motions he said he intends to table at Brampton council’s June 26 special meeting. The first would add the City of Brampton to an ongoing legal challenge.

The second follows the Peel police board motion’s lead inviting those affected by the new laws in Quebec interested in a career in firefighting to apply in Brampton, while also placing select advertising in that province to that end.

Council will debate both motions at its June 26 meeting at city hall from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“We need to join the legal challenge initiated by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims to protect religious freedom. If we don’t stand up for religious freedom in Brampton which is the most culturally and religiously diverse city in Canada than who will?” said Brown.

Source: ‘Ground zero for multiculturalism’: Brampton mayor blasts Quebec’s ‘religious symbols’ bill

Loi 21: Trudeau dénonce, sans plus

Of note (see Andrew Coyne: Will leaders tolerate religious segregation just because it’s Quebec?):

La loi québécoise sur la laïcité a rattrapé Justin Trudeau sur le toit de l’ambassade canadienne à Washington, jeudi.

Mais le premier ministre s’est, une fois de plus, contenté de dénoncer la loi du gouvernement Legault, sans dire ce qu’il ferait pour la contrer.

La question est venue en toute fin de point de presse, après une journée à rencontrer le président Donald Trump et des politiciens américains pour discuter de la ratification du nouvel ALENA.

Pourquoi M. Trudeau n’a rien dit depuis l’adoption à Québec du projet de loi 21 ?

« Ma perspective et mes opinions là-dessus ont toujours été très claires », s’est défendu le premier ministre.

« Je suis évidemment préoccupé par une atteinte aux droits fondamentaux des Canadiens », a-t-il ajouté.

Mais pas plus que ses ministres, cette semaine à Ottawa, n’a-t-il voulu dire ce que son gouvernement ferait concrètement pour répondre à cette « atteinte aux droits fondamentaux ».

Lorsque le projet de loi était débattu à Québec, on refusait à Ottawa de dire si on songeait à se joindre à un recours devant les tribunaux pour l’attaquer. On disait attendre de voir le contenu final de la loi une fois adoptée.

Au lendemain de l’adoption de la loi, le ministre fédéral de la Justice, David Lametti, n’avait toujours rien à dire de plus.

« On va regarder ce qui se passe sur le terrain. Aussi on va prendre le temps pour étudier les amendements qui ont été ajoutés à la loi. Et on va agir d’une façon prudente », disait le ministre Lametti lundi.

Il refusait toutefois d’exclure une intervention éventuelle de son gouvernement devant les tribunaux.

« Nous allons sûrement nous assurer que nos opinions soient bien connues et nous continuerons à défendre les droits des Canadiens », a répété, de son côté, M. Trudeau à Washington, jeudi.

Le journaliste lui a alors demandé s’il était temps de faire disparaître la clause dérogatoire.

Le premier ministre a préféré ne pas répondre à cette question.

Source: Loi 21: Trudeau dénonce, sans plus