, 06.24.2019 01:29 PM

My latest in the Sun: when they came for the Jews/Sikhs/Muslims, they said nothing

Silence.

That’s all that could be heard from the federal party leaders, essentially: silence, or something approaching that.

The occasion: the decision of assorted Quebec politicians to pass a law telling religious people what they can wear. Jews, Sikhs, but mainly Muslims.

The law, formerly called Bill 21, was passed last weekend in a special sitting of the so-called National Assembly. It makes it illegal to wear religious symbols at work if you’re a teacher, a bus driver, a cop, a nurse, or even a day care worker. It applies to everyone who gets a stipend from the province, basically.

The law is illegal. It is wildly unconstitutional, for all the reasons you’d expect: it stomps all over freedom of speech, freedom of religion and equality rights. It giddily shreds the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The law is against the law. So, Quebec’s ruling class – who have never been particularly fussy about Jews, Sikhs or Muslims, truth be told – also stipulated that their law would operate “notwithstanding” the Charter.

In Quebec, now, you’ve theoretically got freedom of speech and religion. Except, say, when the chauvinists in the National Assembly say you don’t.

Stick that yarmulke in your pocket, Jew. Remove that turban your faith requires you to wear, Sikh. Put it away.

As history has shown us, freedoms rarely get swept away with dramatic decrees. Instead, we lose freedoms by degrees. In bits and pieces. Fascism typically slips into our lives without a sound, like a snake slithering into the kitchen, unseen.

This week, the snake curled around the ankles of Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh. All of them pretended that the snake was not there.

Justin Trudeau, in his teeny-tiniest mouse voice, suggested that no one should “tell a woman what she can and cannot wear.” That’s all we got from him, pretty much.

Andrew Scheer, for his part, said he “would never present a bill like that at the federal level.” But, he hastily added, he would also leave the whole messy business to the “elected members in Quebec.”

Jagmeet Singh, who now couldn’t get a provincial job in Quebec because he wears a turban himself, said this about the law when it was tabled: “I think it’s hurtful, because I remember what it’s like to grow up and not feel like I belong.”

Words.

But action? Actually, you know, doing something to protect minority rights and religious freedoms in Quebec?

Not on your life. It’s an election year, pal.

During one of the many, many debates Quebec has had about this legislated intolerance – when controversy was raging about the then-Liberal government’s bill that would force women to remove veils when, say, getting on a city bus – Francois Legault, then an Opposition leader, was asked about the crucifix hanging in the National Assembly.

It should stay, he said. “We have a Christian heritage in Quebec,” he said. “I don’t see any problem keeping it.”

That’s when Francois Legault’s veil slipped, as it were. That’s when we got to see who he really represents.

At his very first press conference after the Quebec election, Legault dispensed with any notion that he would be the Premier to all. To the Muslims (with their headscarves), and the Jews (with their kippahs), and the Hindus (with their markings on their faces), Legault’s message was plain: I don’t represent you. I don’t care about you. You are lower-class.

And, now, from our federal leaders: a shrug. Indifference.

Jesus, from that spot He long had above the National Assembly, is (as always) needed. Right about now, Jesus could remind our politicians, federal and provincial, what he said in Matthew 23:3. You know:

“Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

16 Comments

  1. Beth Higginson says:

    I agree with you on this.

  2. Richard Stack says:

    Actually the law applies to Christians as well, but that not mentioned. Christians are not an accepted victims group in Canada. You would assume from this article that religious symbols were banned completely. The true is these people are free to wear all the religious symbols they want in their personal lives. When I’m dealing with a government official I don’t want to be concerned about their religious proclivities. They represent the government. Many occupations have a dress code. That’s all this is. The Quebec government was wise to invoke the “not withstanding clause” so this isn’t dragged through the courts. This shouldn’t be decided by
    un-elected, lefty activist judges.

    • Mark D says:

      Speaking as a conservative (and Conservative), I believe that arguments based upon the Charter of Rights and Freedoms aside, Sikhs have more than earned the right of wearing their turbans in public and as public officials.

      It is the same turban they wore in service to Canada during the First and Second World Wars, where they proved to be among the most loyal of soldiers to King and Country.

      I also don’t have any issue with Jews, Muslims, Christians, or First Nations, or any other folks wearing traditional religious or cultural garb while in public.

      • Fred J Pertanson says:

        Please tell that to Indira Gandhi’s family. You will recall who killed her.

        • Charlie says:

          While you’re at it, why don’t you as the thousands of families who had their kin slaughtered by the Indian military under the direction of Indira Gandhi.

          Or, the widows without husbands and sons, who were massacred in 84 at the goading of Gandhi’s son.

          Bet you didn’t Google that much, did you, dumbass?

  3. A. Voter says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. I don’t care what someone wears on their head, but i think faces should be uncovered. If it is illegal to ask someone their religion as a job applicant, should it be legal to promote your religion in a public sector job?
    If the entire federal Liberal party is willing to exclude people from public life or public funding due to their religious beliefs on abortion, is this not just another step?

  4. Miles Lunn says:

    It’s easy to explain, each party worries coming out too strongly against this would hurt them in Quebec

    Trudeau: With expected seat losses in English Canada, he absolutely must gain seats in Quebec if he wants to remain PM and that means appealing to some of the 45% or so who would vote CAQ if an election were held today.

    Conservatives: With Doug Ford hurting the Tories in Ontario, there are not enough winneable seats in English Canada to win a majority on their own like Harper did in 2011. And no majority, Scheer doesn’t become PM as NDP and Greens will back Liberals. And to win in Quebec, he needs to appeal to those who voted CAQ or would vote CAQ today.

    NDP: They are not going to form government and will likely lose seats, but if they get a goose egg in Quebec, that could really hurt their rebuilding for the next election so they need to at least try to hold a few of the 16 seats they have in Quebec and a lot of the NDP voters that voted for Layton in 2011 also voted for Legault in 2018.

    So does that justify the stance of the federal leaders? No, but as they say everything is politics. I can assure you if Kenney or Ford tried this, Trudeau would all over them as he knows he won’t win any seats in Alberta so nothing to lose and in Ontario all potential Liberal voters either didn’t vote for Doug Ford or if they did, they regret their vote. Anyone who still supports Doug Ford won’t consider voting Liberal.

    Besides not sure if Chretien did this, but I know Martin on health care was hypocritical. Whenever Ralph Klein even entertained allowing more private health care he threatened to hit Alberta with big fines under Canada Health Act, but when Quebec had much more blatant violations turned a blind eye so this is something we’ve seen far too many politicians do even though it is not right.

    • Charlie says:

      There are consequences for inaction.

      Quebec may be the spoiled child of our confederacy, but parliamentary ridings across the country are made up of the very people this would affect and passive tolerance of psuedo-nationalism for a handful of seats in Quebec isn’t going play well in key battle grounds.

      No major party can afford to turn a blind eye to this shit and expect to go to voters in Ontario and BC with the reasoning that they don’t want to “be too strong on the issue”.

      You’re either for this, or against it. There’s no middle ground, and politics very much requires you to stake a position.

      You need not look further than Tom Mulcair in 2015 and his party’s apparent struggle with the burqa debate.

  5. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    First off, the cartoonist needs to take rudimentary French lessons…

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    I don’t support this law.

    Is anyone, come on ANYONE, really surprised how the fed politicians are handling this? Without Quebec, Justin is out on his ass; Andrew knows he can get that majority without Quebec but he’s rising in the polls there..so; as for Jagmeet, he dreams of glories Layton past. So there you go.

    And of course, the elephant in the room is Canadians in other provinces and territories who not insignificantly support what Quebec is doing, for their own reasons, not exactly noble either.

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    And just to bring English Canada up to speed, since they know practically zip about what happens in Quebec (what else is new and vice-versa), the National Assembly voted unanimously last March to remove the crucifix.

    Ah, those two solitudes. No wonder Canada is eventually doomed. 1982 was just lighting the very long fuse.

  8. Frank Dominic says:

    I hope you correct this: “It makes it illegal to wear religious symbols at work if you’re a teacher, a bus driver, a cop, a nurse, or even a day care worker. It applies to everyone who gets a stipend from the province, basically.”

    I does not apply to bus drivers, nurses or day care workers. It’s quite an important distinction.

    “The new secularism law, once known as Bill 21, makes it illegal to wear religious symbols at work if you’re a public school teacher, a police officer, a judge, a prison guard, a wildlife officer, a Crown prosecutor or if you work as a lawyer for the government.”

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-religious-symbols-immigration-faq-1.5178694

    Even more details here:
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-bill-21-jobs-affected-1.5083041

  9. J.H. says:

    Trudeau is the PM and Liberals loudly proclaim they are the party of PET’s Charter. Not excusing other leaders but the responsibility to challenge this is on JT and his government.
    However, they are already losing in rural Quebec thanks to their immigration and Illegals’ policies. There’s not a chance in hell Trudeau will risk losing more ground in the Quebecois boonies over a matter of principle.

  10. Charlie says:

    This is a great piece, Warren.

    As I watched every Liberal, Conservative and New Democrat gleefully tweeting out salutations on St Jean Baptiste Day, the irony was dumbfounding.

    Stunning is Trudeau’s pathetic failure to fight Legault on something he’s virtue-signalled on since 20-fucking-15.

    • Charlie,

      Would you expect any politician to do anything less? All they really give a shit about is winning with a majority and then pacting with the devil thereafter to stay in power. (Period, exclamation point.)

      The PM’s only hope IS Quebec and everyone knows it.

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