Like most religious minorities in Quebec, I am only slightly shocked by the proposed charter of values. The people that at the short end of the proverbial legislation stick are kids. Because our kids will live the rest of their future in the shadow of the laws and governments we support, it is imperative to consult them. So I decided to put my ear to the ground, and asked my youth group girls and their friends what they thought of the Quebec charter of values. Here are some reactions by girls age 12-16, all from different backgrounds and religions.
Lots of ink has been spilled this week about the proposed Quebec secular values law that would prevent a large category of government workers from wearing "conspicuous" religious symbols. Like many others, I think the proposed law is deeply problematic. In reading and thinking about this issue, I've noticed some recurring questions. Below, I've gathered a few of them with my thoughts.
During my several visits to Quebec, I have been spit upon, hurled insults at my face, not served at restaurants, and ticketed by traffic police for driving while being Ontarian. I do not speak French and I am not a Francophone. If my experience of Quebec ended with just this story, and with the recent developments of the minority Parti Québécois proposed plan to introduce the Charter of Values as law in Quebec, I would not be hard pressed to imagine the people of Quebec to be one of the most bigoted and unfriendly specimens of the human race the world has ever seen. But I love Quebec.
Dear Lakeridge Health, This week, you started a direct mail campaign targeting Quebec doctors, medical residents, and medical students. I agree with your nearly 500 "likers" on Facebook: it's one great ad. But I'm writing to ask you if things aren't tough enough here in Quebec right now without you Ontarians trying to lure away our professionals? Who suffers most directly if our doctors and medical students leave? (Hint: it's not the PQ!)
The PQ is unable to distinguish between religious zealotry that overtakes the public sphere and individuals who, though they exhibit their faith publicly, continue to work peacefully, alongside their neighbours of other beliefs, without difficulty. Make no mistake -- everyone in Quebec will be affected by the Charter of "Values." The entire society will be subjected to change as a result. Do we want people to be forced to choose their faith over integration in the public sphere? Do we want "Muslim only" sections of cities? That will be the result of failing to allow the integration of visible religious minorities in the public sphere. It is apartheid.
Canada's constitution makes no mention of a secular state, and, in fact, its preamble expressly makes reference to the supremacy of God. In other words, because Quebec is -- for better or for worse -- a part of the Canadian confederation, it cannot legally force its citizens to submit to secularism. The crucifix only became a part of the National Assembly in 1936 under Maurice Duplessis, hardly making the cross an entrenched part of Québécois heritage. Like the constituents she hopes to energize with her bigoted legislation, Ms. Marois seems to be struggling with basic high-school curriculum. But who needs history when you can govern with hysterics?
The street has boutique shops, artisan galleries, and restaurants, as well as a 200-seat theatre within centuries-old stone walls, a mural that depicts different stages of the city's history. Rue du Petit-Champlain, lined with shops that belong to an artists' cooperative, ranks No. 1 among the Top 20 Streets to Visit in Canada.
Imagine a teacher at a public school, or a Centre de santé et des services sociaux receptionist. If she tucks her hair into a turban as a fashion statement, or dons a headscarf to keep her hairdo safe from the rain, or because she's having a bad hair day, that would be perfectly acceptable. Ditto for covering a pate denuded by cancer chemotherapy. But if she puts on that same headscarf out of Islamic modesty, das ist verboten.
Quebec's Premier Marois is proposing legislation that, in the interest of uniting the province, would include a ban on religious headwear for public employees. This type of argument -- that greater uniformity within a given population would foster unity within that population -- actually has historical precedence. The reality is Marois is not necessarily incorrect.
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.
They're the perfect antidote to the 5K blahs. Themed runs are popping up all across the country, offering runners a fresh, exciting and fun alternative to the local 5K race scene. From running on the ocean floor to being chased by zombies, we've compiled a list of Canada's most interesting, fun and festive races.
If you're a parent who is strapped by a limited income but still wishes you could spoil your children with various toys, an alternative solution might be closer than you think. Most family and community centres have toy libraries, where parents can sign out toys for their children for a couple of weeks at a time, then return them for others to use.
There is a consensus among PR commentators that the rail company at the centre of the Lac-Megantic tragedy violated basic crisis communications principles. Among them, executives from the Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway failed to: arrive on the scene quickly; empathize with those affected; and, acknowledge responsibility for their role in the tragedy. How could the company have gotten it so wrong?