The most memorable line from the classic film Forrest Gump was about a box of chocolates being compared to life. The second most famous line, to my mind at least, was ‘Stupid is as Stupid does’.
The Government of Quebec, headed by the famously anti-anything-that-isn’t-French Pauline Marois, recently demonstrated it’s intellectual bankruptcy by finding a way for a province in one of the strongest Western economies, indeed global economies, to shed 30,000 jobs in a single month.
Now, the non-stupid response would have been to try and deregulate, maybe cut taxes, open up the economy to business. Nice try, this is the Quebec Government we’re talking about after all.
No, THEIR response was that the problems are all caused by those evil God-believers, Allah-believers and, well, believers in ANY omnipotent being which has power over us.
The best way to rescue an economy that makes Greece look stable? “..ban veils, kippas, turbans and other symbols from government offices, hospitals, schools and any other place that receives public funding”! Isn’t it obvious?!
Of course, Quebec geared up for this attack on freedom of expression by banning the clearly performance enhancing turban from all soccer matches played within Quebec. Well, maybe not performance enhancing, but we can’t have a show of cultural diversity, so there!
Well, actually, Pauline Marois claims that Quebec is a vibrant, tolerant province and, in order to protect that diversity, it must suppress that diversity from the public square. I kid you not, to protect religion, the Premier of Quebec says it must be suppressed.
In suppressing religion, some have argued that a discussion needs to be had over the promotion of religion within the public space. This is a legitimate debate, but the Quebec Government decided to skip around that point because, well, the Quebec Government’s house is just a special exemption to this cause, while its employees are not, ok?
This brainless act by Parti Quebecois has even been attacked by the teacher’s unions, who have stated that they will support any teacher sacked for wearing a religious icon, on the basis mainly that the Government are a bunch of filthy hypocrites. Freedom gets a run in there somewhere, sure, but hypocrisy is the main beef.
Perhaps the union might like to make the point that, should this law be passed, Quebec might also run into a small problem of having a lack of luxury items like doctors and nurses.
Whoops, the Government clearly didn’t think of that, so maybe they might allow for a little bit of leniency in some areas of life, like those pesky doctors and nurses who don’t do anything important. However, with all these exceptions, it will be a great way to create an extra 30,000 jobs in the bureaucracy to deal with the ‘administrative chaos’ this would cause.
This attack on public employees, not because of their performance, but because of their religion smacks of the most flagrant sectarianism one could possibly come across, and it is quite right that people living in Quebec should challenge the Government on the question of whether the Government views certain citizens as being ‘Quebec’ enough.
Of course, identity is a huge issue for Federal NDP leader, and Quebecer, Thomas Mulcair, whose opposition to these new proposals is due to religious discriminationinfringement on freedomslack of tolerance the possibility of targeting Muslim women.
Newly elected Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, also from Quebec, also took the chance to condemn the laws. Such condemnation from Non-Quebecers (!?!) led to a demand from Bloc Quebecois leader Daniel Paille (whose party is travelling so well, their own leader doesn’t have a seat in Parliament) to allow Quebecers to have their own discussion on the laws. All those Albertans (commonly referred to as Canada’s answer to America’s deep south) like Trudeau and Mulcair getting in the way must really peeve Quebec.
Of course, when a real Albertan, like Muslim Mayor of Calgary Naheed Nenshi, calls the charter what it is, it’s all a conspiracy by the ‘pathetic anglo media’ to portray Quebec as a province that is intolerant of the other. Yeah, like the Anglos from outside Quebec are the only people calling this Government on its bigotry.
However, some are Quebecers are simply giving up. English school enrolments are dropping so fast the system is in danger of collapse, Universities and families of returned soldiers are under attack, and we’ve already touched on the 30,000 jobs gone in July alone.
What is most galling about this is how, if such an attack on a religious or ethnic minority occurred elsewhere in the Western world, it would be called out for the bigotry it is. And it did and it was.
The Government of Quebec likes to declare itself a tolerant locale, full of diversity, but it doesn’t like that diversity being on display. However, perhaps we have misjudged Ms Marois’ intentions, so we’ll let her speak for herself. So, what does Ms Marois want to say, directly, to the minorities and believers of Quebec?
I figured as much.
(DISCLOSURE: While baptised a Catholic, I now identify as agnostic).
Keith Topolski is a regular contributor to Menzies House, with a particular focus on Canadian politics.