Jean Charest caved under pressure and retreated from his plan to increase subsidies to Jewish schools:
After discussing the matter with his cabinet for the first time, Charest acknowledged that the plan was doomed to fail without the backing of the population.
[ . . . ]
“With the Marguerite Bourgeoys school board not wanting to pursue this and with the very strong reaction within the population of Quebec, this initiative is not one that’s going to be able to succeed,” Charest said.
If all 15 schools had signed on, the program would have cost $10 million a year. The seven schools that signed agreements will still get a portion of that total for the remainder of the school year before the program is abolished. Charest has authorized Reid and Citizens Relations and Immigration Minister Michelle Courchesne to work with the school boards and cultural communities to find an alternative.
Worse than a leader people disagree with is a spineless leader. Charest will likely find that retreat with his tail between his legs is much more politically costly than an unpopular plan in the first place.
Ironically, there’s no public outcry against the Greek schools who receive this funding model. Greeks, I suppose, are less politically objectionable than Jews.
At least one prominent person has the courage to tell it like it is:
Marcus Tabachnick, chairperson of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, said the project should have continued.
Stressing that it was his personal opinion and not necessarily that of the board, Tabachnick said the controversy hinted of anti-Semitism.
He said he’s been asked by at least one reporter for the origin of his last name and his religion.
“I’m disappointed,” Tabachnick said. “I think in the last few days we’ve seen the ugliest side of Quebec.”
Unfortunately, his is one of the only voices making that argument. A Leger poll suggested that 90% of the population of Quebec was against the initiative.
At times like this, I’m reminded of something I’ve said before: If an opinion poll was held in Quebec, asking people if the Jews should pay more tax than everyone else, the initiative would overwhelmingly be favoured.
I guess this proves that point.
Update: Judging by Tommy Schnurmacher’s tirade on the subject, he agrees with me… and then some. Not that I’m too surprised.