Jacques Parizeau was a passionate and principled man who believed in Quebec's independence, but he was at times a divisive politician. Judging by the many hateful comments I saw last night, his "money and the ethnic vote" speech after the razor-thin Quebec independence referendum loss in 1995 will continue to haunt his legacy. The over-the-top indignation I'm seeing from some is getting on my nerves. Is that one sentence from 20 years ago the only thing some of you can remember from his entire political legacy? Parizeau was so much more than just a rant, more than just one ugly moment in time.
Recently, a former Quebec journalist argued that Canada's mainstream broadcasters were hypocritical for seeming to lend a sympathetic ear to those opposing the proposed Charter of Values. "Not a kippa, hijab, cross or turban in sight. Religious symbols are, quite simply, not part of the TV news uniform; never have been," wrote Micheal Dean in the Globe and Mail. And while he's right in that there are few Canadian journalists sporting symbols of their faith, the premise for his argument needs to be turned on its head. Rather than justify the Parti Québécois's bid to limit freedom of religion in its public institutions, the media's lack of representation of diverse communities must be called out for what it is: a letdown for democracy.
Marois seemed panicky in attacking Couillard Tuesday at a press conference in Verdun, and in a seemingly desperate attempt, brought up Arthur Porter and Couillard's apparent close connection. The PQ is apparently planning on phasing Marois out of their election strategy, by replacing her with the more popular Bernard Drainville and his baby; la charte.
If Quebec's charter of values is to guard us against others, then please explain what exactly happens to the thousands like me? The ones who were born and raised in this beautiful province, the eaters of poutine and joueurs d'hockey, who yes, by the way, also drape a piece of cloth over their heads or wear a turban, or a kippah, or a star around their necks.
The so-called "charter of values" being contemplated by our provincial government would make a mockery of the free and open society that many of Quebec's nationalist leaders have been promoting for decades. It would force religious Quebecers "into the closet", and send the message that religious adherence is something to be ashamed of. Moreover, if religious symbols are barred from the public sphere, they and those who wear them will be rendered even more foreign and separate from the majority. Far from encouraging integration, therefore, such a ban would reinforce divisions based on religious affiliation.
With Pauline Marois now officially inaugurated as the sixth separatist premier of everyone's favorite French-speaking province, you might reckon that our nation's gigantic, months-long Quebec politics bender would finally be coming to an end. Also, you might be an idiot. Speaking of not-so-smart ideas, Harper's plans to reform parliamentary pensions aren't going over so well in the media...