Quebec's Muslim women have been threatened -- violence against veiled women has increased dramatically since the Charter debate was introduced. In Quebec, the issue of choice and self-determination around the veil is critical. It would seem, then, that in matters of fashion, religion, and secularism, Montreal's Muslim women are being held to a higher standard by their provincial government. Montreal's young Hijabistas -- and those who support them -- told us what the veil means to them.
The Marois government's double-speak must be denounced, and its objective understood: getting the Superior Court to validate Bill 99 on the grounds that the Bill does not stipulate a right to secede unilaterally, and then triumphantly trumpeting everywhere that the Court's validation of Bill 99 confirms such a right.
The PQ should focus on using education to preserve its culture and language. Almost 80 per cent of Quebecers identify themselves as Francophone. Thus, it's a failure of education when someone who was born, raised and educated in Montreal tells you that he moved to Toronto because it's impossible to find a job in Montreal. The issue should not be that French was required of them but that, over the course of their educational career, they were not properly taught the language and its value -- economic and cultural. The new Ontarians will not phrase it this way, of course.
The question 'would you live by a gas well' is designed to be a 'gotcha' question. The presumption that oil and gas people who obviously understand their own industry best, would therefore never live by an oil and gas well. It is another example of the gross misunderstanding our industry has allowed to perpetuate in Quebec and elsewhere.
I learned French in 30 days. Well not really. It's probably fairer to say I'm still trying to perfect my English. Over two years ago I embarked on a tour of Quebec to give translated presentations on our industry to what was then quite a hostile population. Unexpectedly these presentations, while emotionally draining, were surprisingly effective.
Our public servants are already subject to a code of ethics that requires them to not make decisions based on religious prejudice (as well as gender, race, or sexual orientation). The Marois government says it is not enough and wants government employees to hide their affiliation with a particular religion. This idea is not only flawed, but it lacks core empirical proof to justify its existence.
I'm an atheist and a feminist, who is, in theory, 100 per cent in agreement with separation of church and state, yet dislikes everything about this Charter. To many, this appears to be contradictory. How, you ask, can an atheist not be in favour of secularism? How, you ask, can a feminist, not be in favour of women's liberation and freedom; the right not to wear a restrictive piece of patriarchy-imposed clothing like the hijab? For the simple reason that the Charter of Quebec Values has absolutely nothing to do with those two issues.
Prime Minister Harper is often viewed by his many supporters and critics as a calculating political strategist with great political instincts. But here is a case, where Harper's acute political instincts have failed him badly. Harper has permitted his Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to revive Flaherty's all-consuming goal of creating a single federal securities regulator. Accordingly, Harper has committed an enormous political blunder.
The divisive PQ secularism initiative in fact provides our national leadership with a valuable opportunity to invite Quebecers to engage with all other Canadians in a broader debate -- one that brings us together to confront the challenges of the 21st century and build a country that matches our highest aspirations for the future.
There are many differences between the platonic idea of secularism and the secularist statute proposed last week in Quebec. These differences will doubtless count against the Charter of Values, especially in English Canada, where a discrete conception of religious freedom and suspicions of sovereigntist motivations have elicited much scepticism.
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.