09.16.2013 07:37 PM

On Tuesday’s Sun: a good week for federalism

Politicians don’t get credit for very much most days. So, credit where credit’s due: Federal leaders have acquitted themselves well in the days since the Parti Quebecois unleashed its bigoted “charter.”

They could have remained quiet. They could have maintained what Brian Mulroney once amusingly called “a courageous silence.” But they didn’t.

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was the first to denounce the PQ’s scheme, which will see the wearing of religious symbols outlawed in public places. Despite the fact he has been dismissed as a policy lightweight — despite the fact he represents a francophone Quebec riding, where the broad outlines of the charter arguably remain popular — Trudeau roundly condemned the hateful proposal. He even met with Quebec’s loathsome premier, Pauline Marois, to express his opposition face-to-face.

NDP boss Thomas Mulcair at first seemed intent on avoiding any comment on the charter. When pressed, Mulcair — who, like Trudeau, knows a deep vein of nativism runs through Quebec politics — would only say the charter was a “trial balloon.”

But when the foul document was unveiled, Mulcair did not hide. Speaking from a New Democrat caucus meeting in Saskatchewan, Mulcair roundly condemned the PQ plan. Calling it “worse than we feared,” Mulcair, whose caucus is made up with more than a few who have voted for sovereignty in the past, said he, too, would oppose the Parti Quebecois charter.

And Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada? Initially, he was completely mute on the subject, which has the potential to preoccupy national politics for months. Harper admitted he was being cautious, because “the separatist government in Quebec would love to pick fights with Ottawa.”

He went on: “Our job is making all groups that come to this country — whatever their background, whatever their race, whatever their ethnicity, whatever their religion — feel at home in this country and be Canadians. That’s our job.”

Indeed it is. After the full putrescence of the PQ’s ethnic jihad became clear, Harper sent out one of his key ministers, Jason Kenney, to warn a constitutional challenge — which Ottawa would win easily — is likely. Kenney went even further, calling the PQ plan something out of Monty Python. And, amusingly, Kenney even made certain to be photographed wearing the sort of head covering Marois’ cabal wish to render illegal.

So far, so good. What will happen next?

Early indications are that things are not going swimmingly for the Parti Quebecois. A Bloc Québécois MP denounced the plan, and then was expelled from the party exposing a nasty rift within separatist ranks along the way. Public enthusiasm for the proposal has seemingly dissipated in Quebec.

Premiers in British Columbia and Ontario have said they welcome all people, of all ethnicities. Municipal leaders have made appeals for Quebecers to move to Alberta and Ontario.

Meanwhile, in the rest of Canada, folks have responded in clever, effective ways. A former Dalton McGuinty staffer developed a popular ad campaign for an Ontario hospital, advising Quebec medical professionals that Ontarians value what is in one’s head, not what is on it.

The battle for a diverse, united Canada never really ends. But it has been encouraging to see our leaders (and our citizens) respond with one voice to racism and bigotry.


  1. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    The Charter of Quebec Values is fatally flawed but it is only symptomatic of the real problem — rejection either explictly or implicitly of multiculturalism by successive Quebec governments. That’s really what this is all about.

  2. dave says:

    I tried to find a copy of this charter, and found this:

    1. Amend Qbc Charter of Rights and Freedoms to reflect religious neutrality of Prov government.

    2. Duty of religious neutrality for employees of prov governmnt.

    3. Limit wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by gv employees serving the public…some migh stay but be reviewed every 5 years.

    4. Gvt employees uncover face when serving the public.

    5. Establish a policy for implementing this charter.

    So, Trudeau, Kenney, Mulcair, assorted self styled freedom of this or that pundits, news media types, and chattering classes are against all this…are for conspicuous wearing of religious symbols? Gvt employees with covered faces? Prov gvt favouring one religion?

  3. Walter Saxon says:

    Trudeau is a Quebecois supremacist too: “Canada isn’t doing well right now because it’s Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn’t work.” When asked whether he thought Canada was “better served when there are more Quebecers in charge than Albertans,” Trudeau replied, “I’m a Liberal, so of course I think so, yes. Certainly when we look at the great prime ministers of the 20th century, those that really stood the test of time, they were MPs from Quebec. There was Trudeau, there was Mulroney, there was Chrétien, there was Paul Martin. We have a role. This country, Canada, it belongs to us.”

    Got that? Liberal = Quebecois; Canada belongs to them, a vast protectorate that should be grateful to be ruled by a race lead by benevolent philosopher kings.

    Tom Mulcair was fashionable late and blandly vociferious in English and outside Quebec; but in French and inside Quebec, it is decidedly walking on eggshells and the bare minimum of critique. No one mentions he poached most of the Bloc’s base so one must assume the Quebec Charter mentalite has deeply infused the Quebec wing of the NDP.

    Harper, the dude who said, “It is time to look at Quebec and to learn. What Albertans should take from this example is to become “maitres chez nous.”” Harper has little to lose having never really broken into Quebec as he had wanted to. The die hard Tories inside Quebec will always be die hard Tories. Conservatives elsewhere tend to love a thorough thrashing so the stern lectures will play well there.

    My personal dealings with the Quebecois or Conservative elites have never made me feel “welcome” – quite the opposite in fact – whispering campaigns, malicious gossip, demonization, massive condescension, etc. Quebecois, Conservative, yes, so pure, so holy, so intelligent, as they pontificate across the stagnant swamps of l’ancien regime. To us “hillbillies” our here, beyond the pale, it’s all nonsense. Who do you think you’re fooling?

  4. Mary says:

    It’s fascinating that those opposed to this charter believe that getting those targetted by it to leave Quebec is an effective and welcome response. That’s exactly what the PQ want! Hilarious…

  5. frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

    I hope every federalist(and those independentistes who think rationally) in Quebec oppose this charter with every fibre of their being……..http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-muslim-badia-senouci-told-change-your-religion-1.1855675

  6. patrick says:

    Religious paraphernalia would not be made illegal. You keep presenting this as if it’s an assault on religious freedom as a whole and not just an attempt to completely secularize the government. In private and public, other than when issuing licences etc. people can display their beliefs as they wish. And continually presenting the story as such is a disservice to the public. It will raise pointless hysteria among the faithful and muddle what the PQ are really trying to do – cultural purity and isolationism through the eventual exodus of Muslims and Sikhs etc. and of course separatism.

  7. Bill Smyth says:

    I believe both Trudeau and Mulcair are in a compromised political position on the PQ Charter of Values. Both are depending on future success through Quebec and both will be fighting mightily for the Quebec vote in the next election. Both may fail.

    I suspect that both of them may be defeated by a resurgent BQ based on the PQ Charter of Values. Neither of them can claim to protect Quebec interests and values if the PQ Charter is deemed unconstitutional by the SCOC. Quebec has not signed on to Canadian Constitution Act and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and views itself as a semi-sovereign French “nation” currently within Canada. Therefore an adverse SCOC decision will be viewed as ultra vires, politically.

    What this PQ Charter of Values does is isolate Quebec from all federalist parties and paves the way for a massive BQ win in 2015 and making them the Official Opposition Party only representing Quebec interests and to hell with the RoC!

    • Tiger says:

      Separatism hasn’t been at a lower ebb since 1981 than it is now.

      I’m confident the Dippers and the Grits can hold Quebec, and I think the Tories can get back up to 10 seats by re-taking Quebec City in 2015.

      We’re doing fine.

  8. Ash says:

    Living in Gatineau, A month back my wife had a car accident and was taken by ambulance to Hull Hospital.

    We had to wait for 20 hrs. to see a doctor and the room was full of around 20-25 people (a women with hijab with her sick kid, a man with a turban in real pain was also there, I can guess there were 3 languages spoken in the room other than French or English). All shared same “value” and same pain an neglect by the government

    I wish Quebec government would focus on fixing the damaged health care, damaged roads, damaged reputation of Montreal Mayors as being corrupt, and damaged economy than staying at the top of this BS mountain an calling it ivory tower !

    One thing that is consistent with ideological parties especially; when they run of ideas to solve real problems and economy is bad, they will always try to speak to the pleasure of the “Least Common Denominator” that being the ill-informed angry of others who will vote for them no matter what ! (Maybe I was aiming high!)

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