A few of the readers who dislike what I’ve written about the Charter of Quebec Values have taken what I said and polarized it into one or two things: The first is that I’m a just typical Anglo-Canadian culpable of ethnic bigotry against the over-vilified French. The second is that I clearly don’t support secular beliefs. Neither of these two condemnations are actually true.
Firstly, if you think half a page of writing on an extremely controversial and multifaceted issue is enough for you to know what I’m guilty of, you’re flirting heavily with troll territory.
Alright, now let’s move on. The PQ (parti québecois) are moving forward with their charter of quebec values. Sadly, it should come as no surprise that François Legault and the CAQ (coalition avenir québec) have no real problem with the charter, pending some very minor changes. The only reason I mention this is because with the support of the CAQ, the charter will pass through the provincial assembly and become law.
So, now let’s talk about what this charter really is. Marois herself
may appear stupid, but her party advisers are definitely not. So the fact that this often-incompetent person is the figurehead of the party is actually to their advantage. It means everyone is more likely to take PQ legislature at face value: A divisive charter of assimilation for the minorities (who must be immigrants) is just that – something to make sure those coming from other countries don’t bring with them the very reasons they left in the first place. Or is that really what it is?
I believe the answer is both yes and no. Yes in the sense that it really is a divisive charter built to trample the very foundation of human rights and freedoms written into the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms (QCRF), as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (CCRF). You see, Religion is mentioned twice in the CCRF and three times in the QCRF. It is established in both documents as fundamentally guaranteed to all humans: not only freedom of religion, but also freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination. So when I go on record as being against this charter of Québec/secular values, it isn’t because I’m anti-secular. It’s because I like my fundamental freedoms; even the ones I don’t use. For instance, I’m not one to “peacefully assemble” but I recognize why it is a human right.
I’m an atheist. Do I really care if I’m no longer entitled to wear my religious symbols in public institutions? No… because I don’t have any. Do I care about living in a free and open country? Absolutely! This charter is not meant to be inclusive or to “unite Quebec“; it was designed to send a message: Diversity is not welcome here.
It’s been argued that actually diversity is welcome here! That Québec has opened their borders to a very large variety of cultures. This is a red herring. Québec does have different immigration laws than the rest of Canada, but they aren’t focused on increasing their diversity, they target French speaking immigrants. So what? What’s wrong with that? It’s a French province, after all. Well, in theory, there isn’t anything wrong with it. If you want to promote French and believe that a common language is the easiest way to foster a smooth integration process, then by all means continue to selectively choose immigrants from Algeria, Haiti, Morocco, Tunesia, Senegal, Cameroon, Niger, French colonies in India, etc. … People who are likely to have two things: A good grasp of the French language and a strong religious conviction (with an emphasis on islam and sikhism).
This is really (and I mean really) the heart of the first reason the Québec government wants this charter. Ironically, they feel they need to fix a problem that was created by the very belief that the French language must take precedence – a belief the PQ founded their party on. Let me explain.
Québec immigration policy is heavily biased towards allowing entry primarily to other French speaking cultures around the world. So much so that they’ve ended up with a large immigrant population who tend to think very differently. Fun fact, France had the exact same thing happen for exactly the same reason! They have over 8M muslims in France now, and that’s quite a political voice. Some people have a problem with this.
So you are witnessing Québec waking up to the fact that they suddenly feel they’re sharing la belle province with quite a large group that seems to think very different. They have very different views on religion, education, the ethics of punishment, the treatment of women, etc. Alright, now a thought experiment! Let’s pretend that your inner tribal instincts saw this as a major problem. How would you rectify this situation? How would you ensure the people who came here understood what kind of culture they need to adopt? How do you get them to keep their French language, but drop their religion…
However, this is all just half of the equation. The other, more Machiavellian, purpose is to promote hostility with “the rest of Canada”. You see, this charter is on its way to becoming law; but it is already known to be in violation of certain human rights. Quebec can amend their own charters/laws to fix this fact, but they cannot touch Canada’s. Since Quebecers are still Canadian citizens, they (we) are typically entitled to the same rights and freedoms (with few exceptions) – and on this basis, a citizen who feels adequately discriminated against on the grounds of their religion, or freedom of expression, can file suit against the province of Quebec. If this happens, it is likely to go to the Supreme Court of Canada (if Harper doesn’t step in first). The PQ has essentially performed what is often referred to as a “Force Move” in chess. Regardless of how Harper or the SCC handle such a case, Québec nationalists get something they want. Here’s why:
Option 1 – Harper stays silent and/or the SCC sides with Québec. Marois and the PQ get to keep their discriminatory charter; and those who are sufficiently discouraged by the verdict conform or leave Québec. This is seen as optimal by the PQ since ultimately they believe the words that Jacques Parizeau (Premier at the time) spoke after the 1995 referendum for separation was declared a “NO” vote:
«C’est vrai, c’est vrai qu’on a été battus, au fond, par quoi? Par l’argent puis des votes ethniques, essentiellement». (“It’s true, it’s true we were beaten, yes, but by what? By money and ethnic votes, essentially.”)
It should be clear by now that all the language laws, the turban bans, the ever encroaching government regulation on anything not ‘pure laine’… it really is to get “them” to leave. When people who disagree threaten to leave… it isn’t a threat, it’s the goal! Because those who disagree are seen as the very reason Québec is still part of Canada – even if “they” are still the current majority!
Option 2 – Harper intervenes and/or the SCC sides with the defendant(s). Marois and the PQ (whether or not they’re still in power) go on public outcry level 10 to show how “Canada doesn’t respect or ‘get’ Québec” and that “this is exactly why they need to separate”; further dividing Quebec…
The PQ may only have a minority government, but they’re showing they have a long game – and that they have big plans for Québec. They’ve actually never hidden this; the party has always been openly nationalistic. So it should come as no surprise that they’ve figured out the only way for them to accomplish their ultimate goal is to get anyone and everyone who would oppose their limitations on diversity, culture, religion, language, immigration laws, etc. and constrict them until they are forced to abide or leave. Mix in the province’s unusually high income-tax rate and the reputation as being “corrupt”, “over-unionized”, and “the worst place in Canada to start a business”, and it won’t be long before anyone who isn’t willing to revert to the dark ages is likely on their way to somewhere else. This charter is more than just divisive, it’s a lion in wolf’s clothing – and just one piece of the big separatist plan.
I wanted to stop the article there… but the bitch of it is, my inner tribalistic and atheistic views actually want to agree with this charter. In another post I mentioned (in a comment) about living in some Star Trek era where all cultures (including aliens) live and work together, mostly in peace, and without religion. How great does that sound! I would love to live in a time when humans have evolved out of this superstitious nonsensical need to worship deities. I would be absolutely fine if I never saw another religious symbol in my life… but this isn’t something that can be forced on a population. Especially one that clearly isn’t ready for it. We have to come to this slowly. We have to come to the understanding together. We’re not there… and this will become very evident if this charter passes.