Bambi has been away and very sick. She is now catching up on national news.
It is fascinating to watch all the misunderstanding of Bill 21 and all the levels of mean comments about Québec and its choices as a (distinct) society, or as a nation within the Canadian nation.
In early June 2019, a friend from a certain village in a nearby province, asked Bambi about the prospects of teaching jobs for a relative who is looking to move out of Lebanon. She explained that she did not know the system well here but referred him to another friend. She shared some insights about the high school educational system in Québec, as an alternative. She asked if the relative in question wears a headscarf (it turned out that she does). She then explained that a new Bill, called 21, is about to kick in in this province. As a result, his relative may not be able to find a position in the public sector, if she wears a headscarf (unless she would remove it whilst on the job). His answer was very clear: “That’s not a problem. I understand that this is their choice as a province”.
Bambi thought to herself then, wow. Those Lebanese people (even the most religious ones) understand Québeckers way more than the rest of those Canadian citizens opposed to death to this Bill. How come a Lebanese-Canadian Muslim man and his veiled cousin (Lebanese from a religious community) are able to imagine (and respect!) a different country with its own mindset or approach to secularism? Why aren’t we that culturally wise in our Canada?
Bambi has written about this law in more than a post. She immediately saw the merit of judges, lawyers, and police officers in positions of power not wearing a religious symbol because they represent the secular, neutral, Québec state. She struggled to see why teachers, especially in the beginning. After careful thoughts, and comparisons with other European countries, she ended up finding this bill moderate and even reasonable. The Government of Québec took a legal measure to protect the rights of those already on the job. She just does not understand why they keep funding private schools (some are ULTRA religious). An apparent contradiction there.
Many articles, many individuals, many levels of government outside of Québec have criticized the Bill (Manitoba even has ads to invite “persecuted” citizens by Bill 21 to move there ?).
Anyhow, here is a multiple choice questionnaire for you about this bill. The answer to each question appears at the bottom:
1. Bill 21 is an Act that is all about…
A. Harassing women in positions of power wearing headscarf, men wearing a kippa and/or persons wearing a turban or a large cross, etc.
B. Respecting the secularism (or “laicitiy”) of the State.
C. Telling workers of the state which pyjamas to wear or not at home.
2. “Persons who present themselves to receive a service from a staff member of a public body must have their face uncovered where doing so” because:
A. Mr. Legault is highly allergic to covered faces.
B. This is necessary to allow their identity to be verified OR for security reasons.
C. Québec is a lunatic province.
3. People who are subject to the prohibition of wearing religious symbols in the exercise of their functions are:
A. Tourists, refugees or immigrants as soon as they land at Trudeau airport or who cross the borders.
B. ONLY Public servants in positions of authority. Here is a comprehensive list: the President and Vice-Presidents of the National Assembly, administrative justices of the peace, special clerks, clerks, deputy clerks, sheriffs and deputy sheriffs, clerks and deputy clerks respecting municipal courts, and bankruptcy registrars, members or commissioners who exercise their functions within the Comité de déontologie policière, the Commission d’accès à l’information, the Commission de la fonction publique, the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec, the Commission des transports du Québec, the Commission municipale du Québec, the Commission québécoise des libérations conditionnelles, the Régie de l’énergie, the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, the Régie des marchés agricoles et alimentaires du Québec, the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, the Régie du logement, the Financial Markets Administrative Tribunal, the Administrative Tribunal of Québec or the Administrative Labour Tribunal, as well as disciplinary council chairs who exercise their functions within the Bureau des présidents des conseils de discipline, commissioners appointed by the Government under the Act respecting public inquiry commissions, and lawyers or notaries acting for such a commission, arbitrators appointed by the Minister of Labour whose name appears on a list drawn up by that minister in accordance with the Labour Code, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions, and persons who exercise the function of lawyer, notary or criminal and penal prosecuting attorney and who are under the authority of a government department, the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions, the National Assembly, a person appointed or designated by the National Assembly to an office under its authority (or a body referred to in paragraph 3 of the bill), persons who exercise the function of lawyer and are employed by a prosecutor (Code of Penal Procedure), unless the prosecutor are persons acting in criminal or penal matters for such a prosecutor before the courts or with third persons, lawyers or notaries acting before the courts or with third persons in accordance with a legal services contract entered into with a minister, the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions, the National Assembly, a person appointed or designated by the National Assembly to exercise a function under its authority (or a body referred to in paragraph 3 of the bill), or lawyers acting in criminal or penal matters before the courts or with third persons in accordance with a legal services contract entered into with a prosecutor, peace officers who exercise their functions mainly in Québec; and principals, vice principals and teachers of educational institutions under the jurisdiction of a school board established under the Education Act or of the Commission scolaire du Littoral established by the Act respecting the Commission scolaire du Littoral.
C. Truck drivers crossing the TransCanada highway, as soon they hit any Québec border.
4. Teachers wearing a religious symbol, such as a headscarf, can keep it on the job because:
A. They will have to do the following in return: walk daily in -20, without a coat, from Métro Henri-Bourassa (subway station in Montreal) all the way to Québec city OR under the rain, without an umbrella, or under the sunshine, without any headscarf and no sunscreen.
B. of a grand-father clause protecting their rights.
C. They would have paid a fine of $100 per day.
5. New teachers about to enter the profession in the public sector must remove any religious symbol because:
A. The average Québec citizen is a French-speaking Hitler.
B. It will be now required upon hiring.
C. Québec enjoys torturing women, especially those with a headscarf, whether their first language is Arabic or not.
Note: All the answers of this Multiple Choice Questionnaire are “B”. B is for “Bravo Québec” for the courage of being whom you are and governing according to your history and values.