From the category archives:

Quebec sait faire

As white supremacists march in the streets in the US, we can’t feel too smug here. Racism is, sadly, alive and well right in our home province, as the Liberal government chooses this moment to revive the debate about religious headgear.

Bill 62, the so-called anti-niqab bill, is being touted by the Liberals as a “compromise” that will allow for “social peace” — just a code word for a majority curtailing the rights of minorities … because any visual evidence of people different from them offends their fragile sensibilities so much that they can’t possibly survive. Or something. It’s akin to suggesting that the way to stamp out sexual assault is by telling women not to wear short skirts. It blames the victim of racism instead of the perpetrator. It assumes that the rights of a majority to not see something that offends them is more important than the rights of a minority to dress or practice their religion as they choose.

And, worst of all, Couillard’s approach is actually the most moderate of the three major parties, with both the PQ and the CAQ calling for even more stringent restrictions on religious headgear. It’s as if we’ve learned nothing from the mosque shooting in Quebec City earlier this year, from the Charter of Values debacle, or from what’s currently happening in the US and elsewhere.

Don Macpherson gets it exactly right in this case:

Bill 62 stigmatizes the tiny number of Muslim women in Quebec who wear facial veils. It encourages their persecution, like the harassment of women wearing Muslim head scarves during the debate on the former Parti Québécois government’s ill-fated “charter of values.”

It would enshrine in legislation the hypocrisy of Quebec’s “Catho-laïcité,” or Catho-secularism. One of Vallée’s amendments pretends that Quebec’s public institutions are founded on the separation of church and state, while the bill would preserve the crucifix placed in the Assembly to symbolize an alliance between the two.

The government pretends that the ban on face coverings in general does not discriminate on religious grounds. But its intent is given away by the fact that the ban is contained in a bill to restrict religious accommodations.

It’s a nasty little secret of politics that targeting vulnerable minorities gets candidates elected. Sadly that isn’t so much of a secret anymore, in the era of Trump. But we have our own demons to grapple with here.

It’s telling that so many quasi-Liberal, left-leaning people in Quebec support this nonsense. They believe, falsely, that because forced religion is bad, the answer to it is forced secularism. They want to hide any visual evidence of differences, in order to protect their “patrimoine”, or perceived superiority over everyone else. There’s honestly not much difference between the pro-laicite crowd and the neo-Nazis people marching in Charlottesville this week… except at least the latter are honest about their racist beliefs.

Bill 62 is a bad bill, scapegoating religious minorities in order to pacify racists. It should not become law. Call your MNA.

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This is getting buried in the news cycle. But it’s actually a pretty big deal, and a sign that Quebec’s economy is in its best shape since before the ’95 referendum:

U.S. bond rating agency S&P Global has boosted Quebec’s credit rating to AA- – helping the province surpass neighbouring Ontario for the first time.

The agency says over the next couple of years it expects Quebec to keep its budget in the black and its debt ratios in decline thanks to strict cost controls, growing tax revenues and prudent fiscal policies.

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao tells The Canadian Press his province hasn’t reached this level with S&P, which was formally known as Standard and Poor’s, since 1993.

A little bit of political stability can go a long way, it seems.

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Andrew Potter, freedom of speech, and the pile-on effect

03.23.2017

The Gazette’s Allison Hanes weighs in on the Andrew Potter debate: We live in the age of the digital lynch mob, where our slightest missteps get magnified, stupid remarks snowball and ill-considered words live on in infamy. Potter is not the first to be scorched by the blowback from this vicious cycle. [ . . . ] […]

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Taylor: “Times have changed” since our recommendation to ban religious headwear

02.14.2017

Charles Taylor admits he erred when he authored the Bouchard-Taylor recommendation to restrict religious symbols among public servants in positions of authority, saying that “times have changed”: In 2008, Taylor, along with sociologist Gérard Bouchard, signed a report that called for a ban on religious symbols worn by public servants in positions of coercive authority […]

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No, it’s not peace in the Middle East. But it’s something.

01.31.2017

One of the more positive effects of what’s been happening lately has been the coming together of the Muslim and Jewish Communities towards a common cause: A photo of two kids — a Muslim girl and Jewish boy — rallying for the same cause alongside their dads, warmed the hearts of audiences across social media. […]

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Quebec mosque shooting: Change the rhetoric

01.29.2017

La Presse is now reporting at least 4 6 deaths in the Ste-Foy Mosque shooting. It’s just sickening. We’ll know more about the suspect who was taken into custody soon enough. But this isn’t merely on the shooter. This is on all of us. We can do more — we MUST do more — to […]

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Lisée voted PQ leader

10.07.2016

Meanwhile in Quebec, the new PQ leader is none other than Jean-François Lisée: I admit I’m actually a bit surprised that he won. He’s too intellectual, too mild-mannered, too unpopular with the PQ elite, too cautious for the hard-liners, too last-generation for the progressive youth. But I admit that, as someone opposed to most of […]

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Do you prefer your politicians corrupt or evil?

03.17.2016

This morning, UPAC arrested 7 high-ranking politicians, including former Quebec Deputy Premier Nathalie Normandeau on charges of fraud, corruption and abuse of public trust: The group of seven, which includes people associated with the provincial Liberals and the Parti Québécois, were arrested shortly after 6 a.m. on Thursday in Quebec City, Charlevoix and the Gaspésie, […]

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Quebec budget update: More balanced than I expected

12.02.2014

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao announced Quebec’s budget update today, setting off what is sure to be a continuing series of protests against the cuts, austerity measures and fee increases. The Liberal government claims that this sort of painful pruning is necessary in order to rein in Quebec’s out-of-control finances and balance the budget. The […]

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Quebec schoolboard elections: Why you should care

09.22.2014

Folks, this is important: Quebec is having school board elections in November, and for the first time, the position of Chair is directly electable by the population. My wonderful aunt, Suanne Stein Day, is running for re-election as LBPSB Chair. It’s because she’s wonderful, and not just because she’s family, that I’d urge you to […]

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