The reaction to Quebec’s proposed legislation to prevent the wearing of religious symbols in the public service and by people in authority employed by the Government of Quebec is ludicrous, pathetic, and futile. It has been vigorously condemned by the Globe as unconstitutional and by the Post as offending minority rights. In fact, it will prove to be the equivalent of the Herouxville Declaration.
Yet I find myself unable to get excited about it. Why? My reasons are inconsistent.
- I agree with the measure. The state should be neutral among religions.
- The state should not be neutral among religions at the cost of sacrificing liberal-constitutional democracy. The move is clearly anti-Islamic and only incidentally anti-Christian and anti-Jewish. The Muslims are a threat and need to be told they will conform to our usages and customs.
- It does not affect me, as I do not wear religious symbols or work in the Government of Quebec. Nor, in general, does anyone who is not French-Canadian by ethnicity. It is their closed preserve, and why spend time fiddling with the edges of their exclusive policies, rather than the core?
- If the Government of Canada and its Supreme Court have already allowed Quebec to impose the most suppressive law against the right of English-speakers in Quebec, both personally and institutionally, and have presided over the gradual destruction of that community by legal suffocation, what is the sense in getting upset about some law that covers only employees in the Government of Quebec?
The English school board of Montreal recently announced it will have to shut more schools because it is starving for lack of qualified (by Quebec’s suppressive legislation) students.
Since opening in 1998, the board, which covers much of the Montreal downtown, has seen enrollment in “free fall,” dropping from a peak of 27,000 students at the turn of the century to this year’s projection of 19,800, Mr. Cohen said.
The losses are part of a province-wide downturn in Anglophone students, with most English-language school boards in Quebec seeing fewer students each year — except for those lucky ones in the Montreal suburbs that have benefited from Anglophone migration.
If English Canada was unable to come to the defence of one its major communities (once a million strong in a country of then 20 million in 1960) in the face of French-Canadian electoral power, and this under the rule of Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, the great exponent of federal power, what is the point in telling the Canadian French they are a bunch of racists for their insistence on not getting their licences or services from face-covered women?
First, they do not care. They are a hundred percent racist and it starts with you, maudit anglais, and works downward and outward from there to other tribes and peoples. So telling them what they already know and approve of in themselves baffles them and makes them think we have a screw loose.
Second, we probably agree with their purpose. They are telling people that the way they want things is the way things are going to be, and no god damn exceptions for Muslims. Would you not like English-Canada to be as assertive? Or maybe it already is, in different ways.
Third, the obvious point, they will see this as just another provocation by liberal bien-pensants to prevent them from pursuing their racial and linguistic survival, something they will not put up with, and never shall.
Remember the Hérouxville Declaration? All of the usual sorts got upset with the Quebec municipal council that published it, yet its basic ideas are now Canadian immigration policy. There is now an official code of conduct for Canadian which advises them that honour killings and female genital mutilation are not tolerated. So who is ahead of the curve, Quebec nationalists or the chattering classes?