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 The values in this outdated and exclusive charter are not my own.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.