Quebec Charter of Values

I will be very brief with this post, as I feel that such a thing as a person’s ability to exercise his/her own religion free of persecution and prejudice should not be subject to discussion in a country like Canada: it should be a given.  I am not a religious individual; I have not worn any religious identifiers for years, nor have I actively exercised any religion during my adult years.  The Quebec government’s recently proposed charter of values (please note I am spelling this in lower case letters) makes an excessively far reaching intrusion into people’s own sense of self, in a society where cultural and national dualities have become entrenched in an increasingly multicultural context.

I have lived in Quebec for almost seven years, and have never felt it offensive or even relevant for my service-seeking endeavours, if a public servant wears something that identifies him/her as member of a religious institution.  Honestly, and I believe many Quebecers would agree with me, I have a bigger issue with rudeness, elevated voices and the false sense of entitlement with which many public employees tend to provide services, than with any symbol they may have around their bodies.

In social media, I have bumped into numerous negative comments from people in English Canada on racism in Quebec.  Individuals outside of Quebec should make a clear distinction between a society, and the level of representation its government can say exercises upon it.  One should not forget that in Quebec, the Parti Quebecois government was elected with a 31.95% of the vote, making its representational power dubious.  I can say with every bit of conviction I am able to muster, that this government does not represent the Quebec I have come to love, respect and defend.  The values in this outdated and exclusive charter are not my own.

As I said before, I have not worn any religious identifiers for years.  But after yesterday’s announcement of this charter, something tempts me to look for my mother’s cross and start wearing it again, not because I have become more religious, but out of solidarity for those who cannot find a place for themselves under the policies of this government.

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One Response to Quebec Charter of Values

  1. Well said. I would like to point out the fact that in multicultural Canada freedom of religion is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If a Quebec–or any provincial–government wants to contradict that and put restrictions on the personal freedom to wear symbols of the religion they adhere to, whether that is a public servant or not, I think they contravene the Charter that is meant for all Canadians. Funny that the general flavour of the proposed Quebec charter of values feels racist, in spite of this particular government’s leaders’ assurances they try to be “neutral”, whatever that is. This sounds far from neutral to me, as wearing a small cross is tolerated and the crucifix, symbol of the of the RC church is left hanging in the legislature. That sounds not even consistent and caters to the RC Quebeckers. The idea of secularity in public service is OK, but then again, the public service is meant for the people by the people and all ethnic groups should be represented within that service. It has been my experience that public service is a bastion hard to enter for non Caucasian/born-Canadian applicants at the best of times. This “problem” can be solved by a hiring strategy for all government services that is more representative of all residents and will be inclusive. As to the charter of values: if it talks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck…..
    Johanna

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