16 August 2017

Challenge of Quebec secession law makes it before the courts after 16-year wait | Toronto Star

Challenge of Quebec secession law makes it before the courts after 16-year wait | Toronto Star



MONTREAL—The long-awaited constitutional challenge of Quebec’s secession law finally found its way before a judge on Monday, nearly 16 years after it was launched.
The provincial law, known as Bill 99, was adopted in 2000 by the Parti Québécois government of the day as a direct response to the federal Clarity Act.
Drafted by the Lucien Bouchard-led PQ, it affirms the legal existence of the Quebec people and its right to self-determination.

Don Macpherson: Defending Quebec against undesirables | Montreal Gazette

Don Macpherson: Defending Quebec against undesirables | Montreal Gazette



Everybody in Quebec is a minority. Even the French-speaking Quebecers who form the political majority that wields power in this province are a cultural minority in North America, and even Quebec independence wouldn’t change that.
Minority consciousness can create feelings of vulnerability, fear of loss, and suspicion of others. In Quebec, where every group is a minority, it seems that every one of them is suspicious of some other, resulting in the wearisome particular divisiveness of the province’s politics.
Besieged minorities — and not only French-speaking Quebecers — need defenders against outside threats, real or perceived. This creates opportunities for volunteers, in the media and, as we saw again in Quebec this week, in politics.

05 August 2017

CCLA (Via The Globe And Mail): When religious freedom should take a back seat to equality rights

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/when-religious-freedom-should-take-a-back-seat-to-equality-rights/article25784108/

In my view, both rights are fundamental for a society to be grounded in respect for human dignity. Indeed, in Canada, both rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – but the Charter, which applies to government action, would not directly apply to a commercial airline.
How far do we go to accommodate a sincerely held religious belief when it comes into conflict with the equality rights of someone else? If all rights are equal and there is no hierarchy, do we figure out these questions on a case-by-case basis? In Canada, decision-makers have ruled against a bed-and-breakfast owner who refused to rent to a gay couple. But some may ask, what about religious freedom? What about the innkeeper’s rights?
Personally, I don’t think that in a public or commercial space the religious beliefs of one person can be used to deny, or relegate (intentionally or not) as inferior, the equality rights of someone else. Religious freedoms are writ large and people are free to believe what they wish, and to act as they wish, short of causing harm to another. Gender segregation can and is upheld in private religious institutions freely attended by individuals – but in public spheres we must be vigilant about upholding the equality rights of all. If we wouldn’t tolerate the refusal to sit beside a racialized person, we shouldn’t tolerate sex discrimination, either.

Don Macpherson: The wrong kind of Quebecers | Montreal Gazette

Don Macpherson: The wrong kind of Quebecers | Montreal Gazette



The concern was not about what people do. It was about what they are, about a characteristic they cannot change. The implication was that there aren’t enough of the right kind of people in Quebec, and too many of the wrong kind.
To put this in perspective, it’s hard to imagine mainstream politicians and commentators saying in 2017 that there are too many Jews in Quebec. But it was socially acceptable for them to say there are too many non-francophones.
It was a divisive message, telling the majority, once again, that its identity is threatened by enemies in its midst. And it told the linguistic minorities that it’s not enough to learn French and use it. Our simple presence here is the problem.

21 July 2017

Freedom of religion under the Canadian Charter(s) of (Human) Rights and Freedoms

Larry Miller and the case against the niqab - Macleans.ca



Freedom of religion under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) consists of the freedom to undertake practices and harbour beliefs, having a nexus with religion, in which an individual demonstrates he or she sincerely believes or is sincerely undertaking in order to connect with the divine or as a function of his or her spiritual faith, irrespective of whether a particular practice or belief is required by official religious dogma or is in conformity with the position of religious officials. This understanding is consistent with a personal or subjective understanding of freedom of religion.  As such, a claimant need not show some sort of objective religious obligation, requirement or precept to invoke freedom of religion. It is the religious or spiritual essence of an action, not any mandatory or perceived‑as‑mandatory nature of its observance, that attracts protection.  
The State is in no position to be, nor should it become, the arbiter of religious dogma. Although a court is not qualified to judicially interpret and determine the content of a subjective understanding of a religious requirement, it is qualified to inquire into the sincerity of a claimant’s belief, where sincerity is in fact at issue. Sincerity of belief simply implies an honesty of belief and the court’s role is to ensure that a presently asserted belief is in good faith, neither fictitious nor capricious, and that it is not an artifice. Assessment of sincerity is a question of fact that can be based on criteria including the credibility of a claimant’s testimony, as well as an analysis of whether the alleged belief is consistent with his or her other current religious practices.  
Since the focus of the inquiry is not on what others view the claimant’s religious obligations as being, but what the claimant views these personal religious “obligations” to be, it is inappropriate to require expert opinions. It is also inappropriate for courts rigorously to study and focus on the past practices of claimants in order to determine whether their current beliefs are sincerely held. Because of the vacillating nature of religious belief, a court’s inquiry into sincerity, if anything, should focus not on past practice or past belief but on a person’s belief at the time of the alleged interference with his or her religious freedom.




Cracking the Quebec Code: An insider’s guide to understanding Quebec's 7 core values

Jean-Marc Léger has written a book that only a Quebecker could write.  The famed pollster says so himself – and the bold title he’s chosen gives away the reason.
Cracking the Quebec Code: The 7 keys to understanding Quebecers, makes the kind of tantalizing promises for itself that a reader might expect from a marketing guru like Mr. Léger. “For the first time,” a foreword boasts, “English Canadians will have access to Quebeckers’ best-kept secrets.” Here, finally, is a “skeleton key” to the “question of Québécitude.”
Co-written with journalist Pierre Duhamel and business scholar Jacques Nantel, the book uses survey data, interviews with provincial leaders and a novel approach measuring reactions to hundreds of key words to come up with seven traits that define the Quebec character: 
joie de vivre [ant: temperance]
easygoing [ant: dissident]
non-committal [ant: proncipled]
victim [ant: victor]
villagers [ant: cosmopolitan]
creative [ant: reasonable]
proud [ant: assertive].

20 July 2017

How a snowstorm exposed Quebec's real problem: social malaise - Macleans.ca

How a snowstorm exposed Quebec's real problem: social malaise - Macleans.ca



The issues that led to the shutdown of a Montreal highway that left drivers stranded go beyond mere political dysfunction






14 July 2017

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]



Singh 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.

11 July 2017

Challenge to Quebec sign laws headed to Court of Appeal — www.cbc.ca

Challenge to Quebec sign laws headed to Court of Appeal — www.cbc.ca



In seeking leave to appeal at Quebec's highest court Friday, O'Brien said that Quebec's sign laws are not just unconstitutional but outdated, as well. 


"In this case, we brought factual evidence about the current demographic situation of French in Quebec," he told reporters in Montreal. 
"Our view is that you cannot interpret [it] as being currently vulnerable. There's no threat of extinction of the French language right now."