15 November 2017

Jedwab: Scorn for multiculturalism in Quebec yields troubling results

http://montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-scorn-for-multiculturalism-in-quebec-yields-troubling-results


Last week, news broke that the Parti Québécois had quietly tried to block prominent lawyer Tamara Thermitus’s candidacy for the presidency of Quebec’s human rights commission. Unnamed sources suggested that despite her impeccable credentials, her job with the federal government was a liability and, worse, she was suspected of harbouring multiculturalist beliefs.

This bit of backstory should raise more than eyebrows.

It is well known that multiculturalism is verboten among Quebec’s political and chattering classes, regardless of partisan affiliation. However, to have multicult-phobia actually move a political party to reject a qualified candidate (who also happens to be a black woman) should tell us something about how pernicious the current ideology is ...

Quebec’s face-covering ban is Ottawa’s business: [Toronto Star] Editorial

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2017/11/13/quebecs-face-covering-ban-is-ottawas-business-editorial.html

The question in the case of Bill 62, which seems unfairly to target women and Muslims, and which assumes the state has the right to impose a dress code, transcends Quebec’s jurisdiction.

30 October 2017

Singh's religiosity complicates the NDP’s Quebec quandary

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/the-ndps-quebec-quandary/article35667251/

The turning point in the 2015 federal election campaign in Quebec came in mid-September, a month before voting day, when the Federal Court of Appeal struck down a Conservative government ban on face coverings at citizenship ceremonies. For New Democratic Leader Tom Mulcair, it was the moment of truth that ended his party’s long run atop the polls in the province it had swept in 2011.
The NDP had come face-to-face with its own two solitudes.
The Quebec left is uncompromisingly secularist. While it supports freedom of religion, it believes that visible manifestations of faith are to be discouraged in the public sphere, lest they impinge on the separation between church and state. Quebeckers fought hard to throw off an oppressive Catholic Church and see any religious accommodation by the state as a threat to the gains of the Quiet Revolution. More recently inspired by France’s secularist approach, the Quebec left supports strict limits on where and when religion can be practised.

Globe editorial: Which side is the NDP on in Quebec?

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/globe-editorial-which-side-is-the-ndp-on-in-quebec/article36589589/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com

The federal New Democratic Party has long played footsie with Quebec separatists, but recent statements by the new leader, Jagmeet Singh, suggest that the party has become more audacious in its advances.
 
The fluently bilingual Mr. Singh last week told reporters in Alma, Quebec, that, if a majority of Quebeckers voted to secede from Canada in a third referendum, he would "respect the decision of the people, without fail and without a doubt."
 
"[The right of self-determination] is so fundamental, and if people choose their future, I am completely in agreement with their decision," he said.

28 October 2017

Mathen: The tenuous constitutionality of Bill 62

http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/october-2017/the-tenuous-constitutionality-of-bill-62/

If Quebec’s Bill 62 faces a Charter challenge based on freedom of religion, the province would need to satisfy a number of onerous legal tests.

19 October 2017

Macfarlane: Quebec law banning niqab and burka is neither neutral nor constitutional

http://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/quebec-neutrality-law-1.4360942

Much like past proposals by the former Parti Québécois government under Pauline Marois, the law here is defended on the grounds of Quebec secularism, but it is a perversion of secularism, which would normally see the state refuse to adopt or sanction particular religions over others. Instead, the version of secularism to which Quebec's political class seems to adhere is simply anti-religion, and more specifically, religions not reflected by the giant cross hanging in the National Assembly.

18 October 2017

Macfarlane: The NDP is wrong on secession, the Clarity Act and the Supreme Court

http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/the-ndp-is-wrong-on-secession-the-clarity-act-and-the-supreme-court/

“The Reference requires us to consider whether Quebec has a right to unilateral secession. Those who support the existence of such a right found their case primarily on the principle of democracy. Democracy, however, means more than simple majority rule.”
This was a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada in 1998’s reference decision on Quebec secession. The Court went on to declare that only “a clear majority on a clear question” could compel the federal government and the other provinces to engage in negotiations with Quebec on the matter.
It is true the Court did not specify what would actually count as a “clear majority” (55 percent? 60? 67?). That, the justices said, was a matter for the political actors to decide. What is crystal clear, for anyone with the scarcest smidgen of reading comprehension, is that a “clear majority” is something more than 50 percent plus one. The highest court in the land has made an explicit distinction between “simple majority” and “clear majority.”



16 October 2017

Canadian Press: New Democrat MPs split over niqab


http://metronews.ca/news/canada/1312102/new-democrat-mps-split-over-niqab/

However, Mulcair did not object last spring when newly elected Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he intended to introduce a bill that would ensure civil servants who deal directly with the public do not cover their faces.
At the time, Mulcair said the proposal was “totally respectful of freedoms.” Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney called it “totally reasonable,” although there is no similar restriction on federal public servants.

R v NS (SCC 2012): Niqab Rules Balance Religious Freedom and the Right to a Fair Trial - The Centre for Constitutional Studies

R v NS (2012): Niqab Rules Balance Religious Freedom and the Right to a Fair Trial - The Centre for Constitutional Studies



In R v NS,[1] decided on December 20, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on whether a witness could be allowed to wear a niqab[2] for
religious reasons while testifying in a criminal trial. The Court
determined that this issue would be examined on a case-by-case basis.
The following featured court ruling examines the Court’s four-part test
meant to balance the witness’ right to religious freedom (section 2(a)
of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter)) and the accused’s right to a fair trial (sections 7 and 11(d) of the Charter).[3]

If an accommodation is possible, do the salutary effects of accommodating the claimant outweigh the deleterious effects of doing so?[17]



CCLA: Quebec [Anti-niqab] Bill 62 Infringes on Freedom of Religion

https://ccla.org/quebec-bill-62-infringes-on-freedom-of-religion/

CCLA has submitted a brief to the Quebec National Assembly’s Committee on Institutions as part of its special consultation and public hearings on Bill 62. Bill 62 — An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests in certain bodies — is a deeply troubling law that would infringe basic rights and cannot be justified in a free and democratic society.

At the core of Bill 62 is section 9, which prohibits public employees and recipients of public services from wearing face coverings, such as the niqab, unless they receive special accommodation via a flawed religious accommodation process. We have argued that the bill unfairly targets individuals who wear religious face coverings and thereby infringes freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and the right to be free from discrimination. We have also pointed out inconsistencies in the proposed law – such as its special protection for “the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that testify to its history” – which exacerbate the bill’s purpose or effect of unfairly targeting individuals from minority religious, ethnic, and racial groups and, in particular, women from these groups.

CCLA is urging the Quebec government not to move forward with the bill.