It has been a while since the Charter of Quebec Values has been discussed on these pages. Each post on the topic prompted a flurry of comments for and against the “Charter.” David Rand, President, Atheist Freethinkers, opens the discussion again with an article, “Secularism Delayed,” posted on the Atheist Freethinkers website.
While the PQ suffered a “crushing defeat” in the last Quebec provincial election, and the “Charter it proposed is now a dead letter,” Rand and the Alliance for Secularism remain vigilant and determined, They are convinced that a charter of secularism is still necessary. They are correct because
The questions raised by the Charter remain current and of paramount importance for society, for our quality of life and for freedom. Any complete secular program must include a prohibition on religious symbols in public institutions, including those worn by public servants. This is not only feasible and reasonable, it is desirable and necessary to ensure the religious neutrality of the public service. We must continue to challenge the essentialism promoted by the multiculturalist ideology, i.e. the misconception that religious belief and affiliation are an essential and unchanging aspect of the individual, making each person a prisoner of the community in which he/she was raised and ignoring his/her freedom of conscience.
A secular program put in place by Canadian provincial and federal governments is important “for society, for our quality of life and for freedom.” It would eliminate the debates over publicly funded Catholic schools in Ontario, partially funded religious schools in other provinces and whether government meetings should begin with a prayer.
Yes, a charter of secularism is still necessary!
Making public servants second class citizens is hardly desirable, unless you’re a fascist.
My secularism includes silly hats!
We do very badly need a charter of secularism, but the Québec Charter of Values was never a charter of secularism. Supporters merely used the pretence of secularism as a ploy to justify their irrational bigotry and othering of visible minorities.
Pay no attention to David Rand’s rambling polemics on the topic – he’s not quite tuned in to the same reality as the rest of us. As just one example, he tries to paint opponents as clueless about the charter because we thought it mentioned the National Assembly crucifix when it didn’t. He’s just being dishonest: yes, the charter doesn’t mention the crucifix *EXPLICITLY*, but it does “make allowance” for “elements of Québec’s cultural heritage”. We’re not idiots – we didn’t think the charter explicitly itemized which symbols were staying and which weren’t – but we recognized that wording was intended to allow all the Catholic symbols to remain untouched… and *this was explicitly confirmed by Marois*. In other words, as scandalized as he is that the government that actually got elected has an official policy to keep the crucifix, *the PQ had the exact same policy*, and wanted to enshrine it in the charter.
That charter did more damage for the cause of secularism in two years than we could fix in ten. From being being a setback, we’re *LUCKY* it wasn’t adopted – because its chances of surviving a Supreme Court challenge were slim-to-none, and there were people just lining up to challenge it… if they had, and it lost at the Supreme Court, *THAT* would have been the biggest blow to secularism in modern Canadian history. All of the major secular organizations knew it was bullshit – the Canadian Secular Alliance, CFI Canada, etc. – there were only a handful of fringe secular organizations that actually supported it.
If Rand and his followers want to harass Muslims and other religious minorities for their silly headgear, they’ll have to do it without official sanction for now. Meanwhile, those of us actually serious about secularism have to try to fix the damage the PQ did, and work toward getting *REAL* secularism in Canada – secularism that keeps religion out of government without attempting to force it out of individuals.
We would need a constitutional amendment to prevent ontario from publicly funding Catholic schools. If the political will existed to get that, we would not need it, defunding could happen provincially. The Quebec Charter would not have been a constitutional amendment.
As a secularist I am against the prohibition on religious symbols in public institutions. I would like to keep historical symbols, but mostly, I think employees should be entitle to wear the symbols as long as they do not interfere with their work.
I don’t feel discrimination when I renew my driver’s licence with someone wearing a yarmulka, hijab, or cross. I like living in a country that allows such freedom.
Aren’t you just a little bit tired of all the superstitious pageantry?
There are more than enough secular people in the world to fill any domestic needs we may have.
When Canada finally adopts secularism hopefully this will be reflected in all our international dealings of all kinds.
I’m tired of people whining about other people’s hats.
Strong letter to follow…