Dear Québécois, Stop Calling it the Secular Charter


...Meanwhile in French-Canada, Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois has vowed to take all bureaucratic methods available to her to ram through Quebec's new "secular charter." For those of you who may not have been following the headlines, the separatist party and defenders of all things catholic and French have been trying to pass a charter that would ban public servants from wearing any identifiable religious apparel in the workplace.

The espoused logic behind the Charter of Values is that it is intended to wash the government's hands of issues regarding "reasonable accomodation," which is why the document goes out of its way to identify all the Judeo-Christian items which will be prohibited when the charter is signed into law.

Of course as everyone is damn well aware, the real elephant in the turban is, well turbans, birkas and all sorts of other Muslim headgear that the largely catholic Québécois really have a problem with. Now here is where we need to draw our lines on this issue, particularly with their use of the word secular.

Canada, the nation in which the Quebec Nation doth reside (as tumultuous as a relationship as that might be) is a secular, pluralist, multicultural society. Similarly to our neighbour's to the south we have an implied separation of church and state at least in practice --even if technically our head of state is the Pope of the Church of England-- there are no barriers to, nor religious tests of office in Canada. We are a secular nation, God-dammit. That means we're cool with or Sikh Mounties wearing their turbans or an orthodox Jew rocking their curly-q things.

The Québécois has always been somewhat...adrift from reality.

Quebec's so-called charter to protect its secular values is the very antithesis of a secular society. The Bloc Québécois is so over-zealous in their xenophobic-francophelia that they're happy to stifle their own personal religious expression just to prevent the person renewing your Quebec driver's license from wearing a turban.

It's worth making one other distinction and that is the difference between accommodation and discrimination. There is a serious conversation, for instance, regarding the veiling of women in some Muslim communities in Canada. Forcing someone to cover herself or face retribution is not by any stretch of the imagination freedom of expression. There is a line between accommodating one not-so-harmful practice and axiomatically condoning some barbaric act of expression like female genital mutilation.

By tossing in a wet blanket like this so-called charter, the ruling Parti Québécois are simply shutting down any meaningful dialogue. It's a thuggish and cowardly act made more obscene by their insistence to pervert all that the word secularism represents.

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