Full disclosure: As David Rand says, I am David’s “friend and colleague” and a member of Atheist Freethinkers. However, if I thought David’s points about the way Canadian Atheist and the rest of Canada (ROC) criticizes Quebec and Quebec secularism were unfair, I would not hesitate to say so.
In his latest post, “Hate Quebec, Hate Secularism,” on his personal blog, David Rand introduces his article by saying,
Antipathy towards Quebec and anti-secularism often go hand in hand in Canadian politics. They are, or should be, unrelated issues, but as republican secularism is more popular in Quebec and multiculturalism more popular outside Quebec, they become intertwined. I give some examples of this harmful attitude, from comments on an atheist web site to a Globe and Mail article.
and starts by criticizing a Canadian Atheist post that is no longer available
One day during the campaign leading up to the Quebec provincial election of April 2014, I visited the web site Canadian Atheist and found, to my initial surprise, that the most recent post consisted mainly of a very brief video, only a few seconds, configured to run in an infinite loop, showing Pauline Marois—premier of Quebec at the time—standing before a cluster of microphones at a press conference and, with the palm of one hand, gently but firmly pushing Pierre-Karl Péladeau away from the microphones.
Rand goes on to ask,
But why would such a video be posted on an atheist web site?
There is a clear answer to Rand’s question: Canadian Atheist writers post what they want to post ; there are no restrictions on topics.
However, Rand is correct when he says
by any reasonable standard, an atheist web site would be expected to adopt a serious, even sympathetic attitude towards that political party. After all, a major aspect of the PQ’s platform in the 2014 election was its Charter of Secularism which, if adopted, would have officially declared the Quebec state to be secular and would have instituted separation of religion and state as official policy in Quebec. All atheists and secularists could be expected to support such a measure enthusiastically and to be favourably disposed towards whoever proposed it.
However this is Canada, and as I have learned to my great chagrin, expecting Canadians—in particular Canadians who claim to be secularists—to behave reasonably and in accordance with their own best interests is a recipe for disappointment.
Rand goes on to provide “a few obvious reasons” why all atheists and secularists should have support the Quebec Charter of Secularism
1. The Charter, whether one agreed with it or not, was certainly about secularism.
2. Quebec nationalism in general has been, for the last half century, resolutely secular in orientation.
3. Putting Québécois culture on par with a religion, as [a CA commenter] does, is absurd.
4. French-language culture in Canada, concentrated in Quebec, is certainly “deserving of special status” and indeed, constitutionally so, as French and English are Canada’s two official languages.
Rand is correct:
The demonization of Quebec nationalism harms all Canadians because it jeopardizes the fight for secularization.
An officially secular Canada is a worthy goal; it is not a bigoted, racist or hysterical idea.