Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Québec's values charter, starting to win me over

Like anyone I can be prone to knee jerk reactions, its normal. When Québec proposed values charter was first put forth I was opposed.  I cheered when I saw an Ontario ad seeking to attract employees of the Islamic faith to Lakeridge health centre in Oshawa with the tag line:  

"We don't care about what's on your head, but with what's in your head"...or words very close to that effect.

The charter struck me as xenophobic and intolerant.  My view however is changing.

Religious extremists are anything but tolerant.  Men who insist their wives cover their faces, and in some cases their entire bodies, are not viewed as models of inclusion and open mindedness...quite the contrary. Religious extremists of any faith seek to subjugate anyone who doesn't adhere to their interpretation of the almighty's will.  

I still can foresee a myriad of problems with enforcing such a charter, but the debate it has created is very much worth while.  Bravo to my home province and to the Parti Québecois for having the cajones to put something like this out there for public discourse.  Other parts of Canada I think would be too timid for fear of offending.

Debate is a positive thing, and only cowards run from controversy.  

For those who can read French here's an excellent article from LaPresse, wondering what is the opinion of Liberal MNA Fatima Houda-Pépin, the only Muslim member of the Québec National Assembly.  Unfortunately while she has spoken out against extremism in the past, on the charter she is silent.

On aimerait vous entendre, Fatima Houda-Pépin


Yvan St-Pierre said...

Hi - just ended up on your blog as I'm trying to understand how to make sense of this situation, any other way than as an extremely damageable thing for everyone except in the PQ's very short-term advantage.
No question in my mind that muslim fundamentalism is not something to be encouraged, obviously, but how is encouraging the current rise in intolerance any better? I'm a francophone born in Montreal, I've lived there 40 odd years and have been in the pure laine area of Joliette for almost 10 years now, and I must say I have a really hard time making sense of this whole thing. Isn't Europe slowly drifting towards this right-wing sort of xenophobic thing right now? Even the french socialists have been contaminated by the Front national toxic propaganda. Where is this heading? And we want to emulate this now? For what, a couple of percent of muslims, within which may be hiding a couple percent of extremists. And you really think that we can legislate values? I don't buy the idea that women who are forced to wear the scarf will then have a usable argument to take it off - they'll be forced just as well by their extremist relatives to leave their job, and the whole thing will just further fuel their hate of western freedoms, and we will have lost the little handle we had that could help us engage them in a healthier social process. In the end, islamism is really winning the war, if there ever was one, by making us decrease the amount of our freedoms, when we should do the exact opposite. Or maybe I'm just going crazy. Bonne journée!

Gordon Cawsey said...

Merci bien pour votre commentaire tres raisonable Yvan. Its a difficult problem for sure...I'm in the Capital city, and when I go to the mall I do see women who are veiled, always with their husbands. I don't have a problem with Quebec saying it will not be tolerant of intolerance, but I recognize its not a HUGE issue. I guess maybe we should wait until its a bigger problem?

Yvan St-Pierre said...

I don't really see in which way anyone can think that what's in this charter can have any positive effect against intolerance, personally, or on what we'll see in 99% of public places. But I wouldn't say we should wait until it's a bigger problem. Not only do I think that the charter will in itself make it a bigger problem rather than helping to solve it, but also that there are much more efficient ways to have a better relationship with these cultures, and in the process to use our tax money way better. Furthermore, the assumption that this is a growing menace in an undetermined future is a lot like some sort of conspiracy theory - at least at the current levels of immigration which I don't find scary at all. In that sense, it seems quite paradoxical that as we pretend to curtail religious radicalism here, we choose to do it by relying on an irrational analysis of causes and consequences, based on fears that are not supported by the evidence. Well, that's my personal view, again maybe I'm missing something.