Way to go Québec

Way to go Québec

Bambi usually follows the news from Québec with great interest.

Herein she will comment on this article entitled “Le bloc Québécois veut que Ottawa respecte la laicité au Québec” (The Bloc Québécois wants Ottawa to respect Québec secular state):


She would like to thank the Bloc Québécois, even if she does not reside in the Belle Province (clearly not a potential voter).

The Bloc Québécois is simply reminding Ottawa (i.e., our current Prime Minister) and the rest of Canada (i.e., leaders May and Singh as well as some former politicians from Alberta) and organizations from the rest of Canada that this new bill is made in Québec and is meant for Québec… In other terms, please all remember to respect Québec’s will (the bill is supported by the majority of the Québec population; maybe it was controversial but only in Montreal; sometimes for legitimate concerns; other times for other reasons).

It is hard for the rest of Canada, and maybe the rest of North America, to understand the history and mindset of Québec, especially when often people and politicians alike forget that Québec is a distinct nation (even within our beautiful Canada).

To come back to Bill 21, there have been many articles written about it. Many of them, if not most, include errors and/or omissions.

Contrary to what people think, whether they like this bill or not, it came after 10 years of public debate.

To clarify this bill, here is a quick summary:

Four principles:

  1. The separation of state and religion
  2. The religious neutrality of the state
  3. The equality of all citizens
  4. Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion

Some government employees in positions of authority, such as prosecutors and police officers, as well as teachers and principals of public primary and secondary schools, will not be able to wear religious symbols in the performance of their duties.

The Act specifies that persons who were in office on March 27, 2019, retain the right to wear a religious sign, as long as they hold the same function within the same organization.

The bill also clarifies that public services must be provided and received without a covered face during an identity check or if needed for security reasons.

Compared to other similar secular bills in other countries, the bill is moderate (ex., more than in France or even Switzerland). Not surprising to me because the bill reflects Québec’s pragmatism, tolerance, and collective self-respect.

This law is a natural historical logic to Québec’s past (a domineering Catholic Church, which led to a Quiet revolution).

Bambi took the time to reflect about this bill. She clearly supports it or supports Québec’s will.

This being said, spontaneously, she first saw the logic and merit of the police and lawyers not wearing religious or tribal symbols (+ of course, the part of the law about the security). She struggled a lot, especially at first, to see the government logic behind the extension of this bill to teachers/school principals (as authority figures). Maybe she still does not fully understand it but she endorses it, especially with the reactions of (religious and other) lobby groups and the media.  

Perhaps Québec is naive still. It does not understand that we can indoctrinate kids without wearing any symbol, religious or not. She also thinks that it is not because you are wearing a religious symbol that you would be narrow-minded… although you may have trouble teaching topics like evolutionary biology, who knows?

She also wonders why the bill didn’t extend to universities to protect education students/trainees, wearing religious symbols, who are aspiring for a job in the public sector? However, the government made the choice to legally protect only current employees. So, luckily no one would lose his/her job!

Yes, it is sad to imagine one single woman (or man, if any) who may find herself prevented from applying to a job in public schools and risk being isolated in their homes ☹. However, one must remember that they can apply for jobs in the private sector.

Talking about private schools, Bambi thinks that the Government of Québec must not fund private schools (currently 65% of private schools receive funding from the Government of Québec; http://www.education.gouv.qc.ca/parents-et-tuteurs/ecoles-privees/).

Anyhow, this law is less authoritarian as it does not force students not to wear any religious symbols (so much more moderate than in France or, at one point, in Turkey).

Now, why does Bambi think that this bill is wise…. Because Québec respected its past and took the time to think of its future, preventing potential problems like those we see elsewhere, sadly like in her home country or even its neighbouring Israel, when religious lobbies become too powerful.

Bambi thinks that this bill is about the secularity of the government; not about removing any right to anyone. The government made a compromise and removed a traditional cross from its National Assembly. Even if Bambi has (Christian) faith in her heart (+ her family includes members of 7 different religions), she salutes this gesture. According to her, it was even about time for a province which government is now officially and fully secular.

To conclude, Bambi would like to thank the Bloc Québécois again and cite a (translated) quote from the Honourable Simon Jolin-Barrette, Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion and Government House Leader: “We have just written an important page in the history of Québec. The public has been waiting for this moment for more than ten years, and our government has had the courage to finally act in this way with rigor and pragmatism. It is legitimate for the Québec nation to decide how secularism applies in its territory and in its institutions. I am proud, on behalf of your government, to finally affirm and define the secularism of the state by placing it in Québec law for the first time”.

Thank you Québec for having the courage to govern and for perhaps providing an example to the world of how to stand for one’s values.

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