Charte de la laïcité – Quelques suites d’un mémoire sur la laïcité | Le Devoir

Guy Rocher replies to the criticism of Georges Leroux et Jocelyn Maclure on his submission to the Charter hearings, maintaining his strict approach to secularism (but not wishing to fire existing employees). Again, confusing the neutrality of government with the religious expression of individual employees:

Puisque le point de départ de notre réflexion collective sur la neutralité fut le constat du pluralisme, nous pouvons sans doute affirmer que celui-ci continuera, et qu’il est bien probable que nous assisterons à une diversification religieuse encore plus marquée. Le principe de « l’égalité des droits » entre les « clientèles » devra donc s’appliquer plus que jamais.

Et je ne me crois pas en contradiction avec ma position, en tant que sociologue, en proposant que l’on accepte que ceux et celles qui portent déjà des signes ostentatoires de leurs convictions religieuses continuent à le faire tant qu’ils et elles sont à l’emploi des institutions publiques. Il s’agit là d’une question de justice pour ces institutions qui les ont employé(e)s et surtout pour ces personnes elles-mêmes.

La charte de la laïcité est pour demain, et non pour hier.

Charte de la laïcité – Quelques suites d’un mémoire sur la laïcité | Le Devoir.

And the usual political back and forth:

Lisée accuse Couillard de ne pas comprendre le Québec

Même avec la charte, le tchador sera autorisé à l’université, admet Drainville

Charte – Poursuivre sur le chemin de la laïcité équilibrée | Le Devoir

Good commentary by Georges Leroux (UQAM) and Jocelyn Maclure (Université de Montréal) on the testimony of Guy Rocher (a well-known Quebec sociologist and former Quebec deputy minister):

Avec Guy Rocher, nous abordons la question du rapport entre religion et pouvoir public en privilégiant une « attitude prospective ». La société québécoise continuera à se diversifier. Nous croyons qu’une laïcité équilibrée est mieux en mesure de favoriser la participation pleine et entière des citoyens de tous les horizons à nos institutions publiques. Dire aujourd’hui à un étudiant au secondaire, au cégep ou à l’université qu’il ne pourra pas devenir enseignant, travailleur social, fonctionnaire, médecin ou juriste de l’État car il porte un signe religieux visible risque de favoriser le ressentiment et la désaffection. Ce n’est pas la « vision d’avenir » que nous souhaitons pour le Québec.

En rappelant que l’accélération de la laïcisation de l’État pendant la Révolution tranquille a fait du Québec une société plus juste et harmonieuse, Guy Rocher donne la mesure des exigences du présent. Nous devons exprimer notre reconnaissance à ceux qui, comme lui, ont rendu cette mutation sociale possible. La laïcité de l’État québécois est un acquis précieux qu’il est possible de préserver sans restreindre les droits de citoyens qui sont déjà sous-représentés dans les organismes publics.

Charte – Poursuivre sur le chemin de la laïcité équilibrée | Le Devoir.

Freedom of conscience and the Charter of Quebec Values » Institute for Research on Public Policy

Good piece by Jocelyn Maclure of Université de Laval on the Charter and freedom of conscience:

The analogy with political symbols does not succeed in justifying restrictions on freedom of religion or equal access to job opportunities in the public and parapublic sectors. Our civil and political rights safeguard our basic political interests, while freedom of conscience and religion protects the religious and secular convictions and commitments that endow human life with meaning. We can rightly be proud that our democratic institutions properly uphold both these rights and freedoms.

Freedom of conscience and the Charter of Quebec Values » Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Freedom of conscience and the Quebec Charter of Values

Thoughtful commentary by Jocelyn Maclure of Université de Laval on the Charter.

First, we can be bothered by many things in our interactions with employees in the public and parapublic sectors. Putting up with aggravation is a necessary condition of social cooperation and peaceful coexistence. Happily, freedom of conscience and religion do not entail the right not to be exposed to other people’s appearances and beliefs that we may find disagreeable. If that were the case, tolerance and freedom of conscience would be a spur to the segregation of communities, a little along the lines of the “pillarization” model in the Netherlands, where for many years Catholics, Protestants and Social Democrats have all had their own separate social institutions.

Second, although wearing a religious symbol is clearly an expressive act laden with meaning, we must not attribute to that act ana priori unambiguous meaning in conflict with shared public values. For example, we often infer from the struggle of some women in Muslim countries against the imposition of the veil that the veil is necessarily a symbol of the domination of women by men. But this is a false inference. In a liberal democratic society such as Quebec, a Muslim woman may have other reasons for wearing the veil that are bound up with her faith and identity.  And we must not yield to a form of magical thinking that leads us to imagine that barring overt religious symbols from public institutions will somehow help women who are oppressed by men in their daily lives. Not only does the ban restrict the freedom of those who wish, of their own volition, to wear an overt religious symbol, but it does virtually nothing to help the most vulnerable women, who are scarcely represented in the public and parapublic sectors.

The analogy with political symbols does not succeed in justifying restrictions on freedom of religion or equal access to job opportunities in the public and parapublic sectors. Our civil and political rights safeguard our basic political interests, while freedom of conscience and religion protects the religious and secular convictions and commitments that endow human life with meaning. We can rightly be proud that our democratic institutions properly uphold both these rights and freedoms.

Freedom of conscience and the Quebec Charter of Values » Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Charte des valeurs québécoises – Some articles of interest

Some good articles today on the ongoing controversy about the leaked draft Charte des valeurs québécoises.

First, interview Jocelyn Maclure of Laval University on the appropriate balance between secular government and religious freedom of expression, essentially taking a position similar to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission:

Q&A: Quebec’s religious garb debate intensifies – Canada – CBC News.

A good analysis in La Presse about all the steps the PQ has not taken in preparing its draft and the implications for the debate and positioning, namely need for public consultations, trying to change the vocabulary from laïcité to valeurs, going far beyond Bouchard-Taylor in banning religious symbols for all government employees (not just those in authority), and how opposition parties are lined up (Liberals against, CAQ has yet to pronounce itself officially but appears to have some reserves, Québec solidaire against), and lastly it will be challenged in the courts.

Charte des valeurs québécoises: un chemin semé d’embûches

A good opinion piece by Lionel Perez – Maire de l’arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges -Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (one of the most diverse areas of Montreal), on the need for an open definition of  laïcité, laïcité inclusive, not the narrow, exclusionary approach of the draft proposal:

La laïcité inclusive est une valeur québécoise

And Martin Patriquin of Macleans on some of the likely effects on employment  opportunities for immigrant and new Canadian women, as well as how the politics are playing out:

Surely you’re not comparing Pauline Marois to Vladimir Putin?