PQ reaps the intolerance it sowed with values charter

Another bad week on identity politics in Quebec and the ugly side of the PQ election and Charter strategy, starting with Graeme Hamilton of the Post:

Following a question about France from Paul Arcand, a radio host on 98.5 FM, Mr. Fontecilla said France is “far from a model” for integrating immigrants. “I would like to point out to Mr. Drainville that the theme of secularism was appropriated by the French right and even the extreme right, [former president Nicolas] Sarkozy and [National Front leader] Marine Le Pen,” he said. He added later that he is surprised the PQ has focused on a charter of Quebec values that promotes a “closing in on ourselves” and “anti-Muslim reactions.”

The PQ’s all-out barrage against Québec Solidaire sounds like a party that doth protest too much. Consider that, in less than a week, two PQ candidates have been caught up in controversy for intolerant comments toward religious minorities.

Jean Carrière stepped down Thursday as a candidate in the Montreal riding of Lafontaine after an image he shared on Facebook declared “F— Islam,” and posts praising Ms. Le Pen, came to light.

Another PQ candidate, college philosophy professor Louise Mailloux, has been allowed to remain as the PQ candidate for Gouin despite declaring last week that she stands behind her writings declaring that kosher and halal food are part of a conspiracy to enrich rabbis and imams and fund religious wars. She also likened circumcision and baptism to rape.

Graeme Hamilton: PQ reaps the intolerance it sowed with values charter | National Post.

Bernie Farber in the Star piles on, correctly so on Marois’ refusal to dissociate herself with Mailloux:

Many in the Jewish community are stunned by these developments, even though they have heard Marois categorically state that the PQ is not an anti-Semitic party. Indeed, Marois told journalists last week that the PQ counts many friends among the Jewish community leadership. Sounds an awful lot like some of my best friends are …
This past weekend, in a dismal attempt at damage control, Mailloux offered her version of an apology. She said she never meant to “offend anyone” and apologized if she did. There was no contrition or acknowledgment that the “kosher tax” was in fact an anti-Semitic deception. Jewish groups quite rightly rejected her apology.
This latest trek down bigotry’s path, along with the discriminatory Charter of Quebec Values, is giving many in Quebec’s faith and ethnic communities a legitimate scare. It is time we hold politicians who make such absurd comments accountable. And it is more than time that we reject political leaders who embrace the path of ethnic and faith intolerance.

Parti Québécois candidate revives an anti-Semitic lie

Surprising the that blog post in question by Mailloux is still up:

Le poulet sacré

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.

Fatima Houda-Pepin: une intellectuelle solitaire | Denis Lessard | Politique québécoise

A good profile on Fatima Houda-Pepin, the Quebec Liberal Party member of the national assembly that has taken throughout her political career a strong position against fundamentalism, particularly islamic fundamentalism. Having been on a study tour with her and others of the Dutch experience with integration and diversity, have a lot of respect for her experience and understanding of the issues:

Fatima Houda-Pepin: une intellectuelle solitaire | Denis Lessard | Politique québécoise.

And some other articles on her relations within the Liberal party:

Sortie de Fatima Houda-Pepin – Là où va le Québec | Le Devoir

Fatima Houda-Pepin invitée à revenir au PLQ | Katia Gagnon | Politique québécoise

The third party in Quebec, the CAQ, after saying they would accept a candidate wearing a chador (the Iranian garment covering the body but not the face), have reversed their position:

Tchador: François Legault fait marche arrière | Martin Ouellet | Politique québécoise

The most sensible commentary was by Graeme Hamilton in The National Post, noting just how hypothetical and unlikely this possibility would be:

The obsession with the chador brings to mind the absurd code of living adopted in 2007 by the small town of Hérouxville, Que., laying down the law against a host of imagined threats posed by newcomers. Among other things, the code declared that it is forbidden to stone women, burn them alive or throw acid on them, that alcohol and dancing are permitted and that “the only time you may mask or cover your face is during Halloween.”

True, there have been no public stonings in Hérouxville since the code was adopted. For that, its authors must be proud. Similarly, if the dust ever settles over the PQ values charter, Ms. Marois will be able to look out at a chador-free National Assembly and pat herself on the back.

Graeme Hamilton : Charter of values causes big fuss over a hypothetical candidate wearing an obscure cloak