Quebec’s unions display their warm, fuzzy side

12.11.07

What do you get when you mix two of my pet peeves: Quebec unions, and the “healthy” reasonable accommodation hearings? Plenty of religious intolerance to go around:

No public servant – including Muslim teachers and judges – should be allowed to wear anything at work that shows what religion they belong to, leaders of Quebec’s two biggest trade union federations and a civil-servants union told the Bouchard-Taylor commission yesterday.

“We think that teachers shouldn’t wear any religious symbols – same thing for a judge in court, or a minister in the

National Assembly, or a policeman – certainly not,” said René Roy, secretary-general of the 500,000-member Quebec Federation of Labour.

“The wearing of any religious symbol should be forbidden in the workplace of the civil service … in order to ensure the secular character of the state,” said Lucie Grandmont, vice-president of the 40,000-member Syndicat de la fonction publique du Québec.

Dress codes that ban religious expression should be part of a new “charter of secularism” – akin to the Charter of the French Language – that the Quebec government should adopt, said Claudette Carbonneau, president of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux.

Such a charter is needed “to avoid anarchy, to avoid treating (reasonable-accommodation) cases one by one,” Carbonneau said yesterday, presenting a brief on behalf of the federation’s 300,000 members at the commission’s hearing at the Palais des congrès.

Same point of view at the 150,000-member Centrale des syndicats du Québec, which includes 100,000 who work in the school system, the commission heard.

Quebec needs a “fundamental law” akin to the Charter of Rights that sets out clearly that public institutions, laws and the state are all neutral when it comes to religion, said Centrale president Réjean Parent. The new law would also “define (people’s) rights and duties … in other words, the rules of living together.”

Nobody should be too surprised that our unions would like to see us turn into… well, France. And by dressing it up as an anti-Muslim initiative, playing into people’s hatreds and stereotypes, they may just succeed in drumming up enough support for this asinine idea.

The “reasonable accommodation” hearings really ought to have been renamed long ago. My vote is for “Forum to allow all pissed-off, intolerant, inbred and otherwise racist idiots to vent their stereotypes and prejudices in public”. Okay, maybe it doesn’t quite have that nice ring to it. But it’s a lot more accurate.

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