The Charter is Dead. Long Live the Charter!

“The Charter is Dead. Long Live the Charter!” is the title of  David Rand’s latest article on the Atheist Freethinkers website.

The first part of the title makes it clear

With the crushing defeat of the PQ in the recent elections, the secular Charter proposed by the outgoing government is now dead.

However, we would be “incorrect” to conclude that the secularism proposed by the PQ Charter is dead as well:

In spite of ferocious opposition, the Charter was not the principal cause – and perhaps not even a cause at all – of the defeat. Furthermore, although the Charter as a specific proposal of secular legislation is very dead indeed, the goal of completely secularizing the Quebec state – and the Canadian state! – remains a critical and unresolved issue, a question which will inevitably return to the spotlight and contribute in major ways to future debates about the sort of society in which we wish to live. Secularism is not only necessary; it is indeed a popular idea, and not just inside Quebec.

David Rand presents a compelling argument for why the Charter was not the reason for the PQ’s defeat:

The evidence strongly suggests that the results were rather a rejection of the party’s sovereignist programme. The Charter was instead collateral damage.

Rand concedes that the “Charter as implemented in draft Bill 60 is thus dead”; however, as Rand points out,

the questions it raised remain current and of capital importance for our societies, our quality of life and our freedoms. Any programme of secularism will be incomplete if it does not include a ban on religious symbols in the public service, including those worn by civil servants. Any organization which claims to be secularist must recognize that such a ban is not only feasible and reasonable, it is desirable and necessary in order to guarantee the religious neutrality of the public service.

Rand encourages his readers and all genuine secularists to “direct [their] energies towards the promotion of secularism,” in Canada.

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