Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Counting The Possibilities: The PQ's Intent

What is the motivation of the PQ's Charter of Quebec Values?  Let's be fair and take the possibilities seriously:

  • Given the anti-immigration sentiment voiced in previous elections (see the ADQ's relatively success in 2007), perhaps this charter is aimed beyond Canada to signal to the world that observant members of non-Christian religions ought not to come to Quebec, especially, it seems Muslims, Jews, and Sikhs. 
  • Interacting with a government official (which in QC includes doctors, nurses, professors, as well as judges, police, etc) wearing a religious symbol might indicate that the state is not neutral but an advocate of a religion. 
  • Un voile/Hijab
      Une Kippah.Un turban
    • The problem with this is that it assumes that Quebeckers are, um, idiots.  Given that most Quebec government employees are not Muslim or Jewish or Sikh or whatever and that most do not wear any religious symbols, Quebeckers with any intelligence can infer that the provincial government is not supporting one religion at the expense of others.  
    • The irony here is that assuring the neutrality of the state may well cause people to think that the state is not neutral since it is far more likely to target particular religions.
  • It might be to address the problem of having minorities over-represented in government jobs except that the balance right now is in the opposite direction--minorities are under-represented in said jobs.
  • Perhaps this is a jobs program after all.  If one forces out of state jobs those who are practice their religion diligently, then that creates more spots for those who are less observant.  Language restrictions in Quebec and elsewhere in the past have been viewed as creating opportunities for some folks by denying them for others. Ask the Russians in Estonia.  
  • Perhaps they are meeting the demands of those Quebeckers who never interact with religious minorities to make sure they never have to do so.  There is far more support for this legislation outside of Montreal than inside.  In Montreal, people are used to dealing with people of all races, religions, and so on.  Sure, one can be a little freaked out when when sees a women who only has her eyes showing due to her niqab.  But adults can get over themselves and get used to it. Perhaps this really is about what it often is really about Montreal vs. the rest of Quebec.
  • The remaining motivation would be a political one that I discussed yesterday--to distract the populace of Quebec from the harder problems of governance by playing with symbolic politics.  And/or to create a controversy with the rest of Canada so that Quebeckers get upset with the ROC criticizes Quebec.  After all, didn't folks in the PQ say that they needed to create a series of smaller crises to mobilize support for the next referendum (since they had won all of the important battles already)?
Un vĂȘtement recouvrant l'ensemble du visage sauf les yeuxI have been wrong about at least one thing: the NDP came out swinging against the Charter.  I had expected pandering since that has been the NDP's modus operandi when it comes to Quebec, given its dependence on seats there.  That the Bloc Quebecois is also against it, or at least not for it, may have given NDP leader Thomas Mulcair more confidence... or not.  Because this is just a pander bridge too far.  But good on Mulcair and the NDP, and good on the Liberals and the Conservatives for opposing this piece of tyranny of the majority. 

Une grosse croix autour du couOf course, as always, we should note that those who have been subject to the tyranny of the majority have no problem turning the tables.... the PQ seeks to represent the majority of Quebeckers and oppress religious minorities, not unlike how the Francophones used to be oppressed by the Anglophone majority of Canada.  I guess some folks due learn the lessons of history.  The wrong lessons...

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