Saturday, April 05, 2014

A Prayer for Freedom

On Monday Quebeckers go to the polls for their provincial election and I pray, quite literally, that the Parti Quebecois goes down to a crushing defeat. Part of my desire for this outcome is that I want Quebec to stay within confederation and always have. In recent years, while our son and daughter-in-law lived in the province, we became much more aware of its cultural uniqueness and remarkable beauty. Canada would be diminished if Quebec left. The premier, Pauline Marois, insists that another referendum is not on the agenda, but the PQ is a separatist party.

More importantly I pray for a Quebec in which there will be freedom of expression, including religious expression. The Charter of Values is a thinly masked racist manifesto as far as I am concerned, and apparently I'm in fairly good company. Two former premiers of the province and the former leader of the Bloc Quebecois have also denounced it.

In recent days Marois has admitted that employees of the province will be fired if the Charter is adopted and individuals refuse to give up their head scarves, or kippas, or visible crosses. How can be the supposed value of a provincial government to dismiss employees for modest expressions of faith? What problems have these symbols and attempts at modesty created up until now?

 I certainly understand issues around face-covering, which is not a Muslim principle anyway. And no government employees anywhere in the country are allowed to proselytize for their religion. I hope that this goes down in history as an ugly attempt at religious suppression rather than becoming the law.

What are your thoughts on this?

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