Saturday, September 14, 2013

More On Madame Marois' Mission

Star readers offer their insights on the Quebec Purity Charter. Both sides are ably represented:

An outrageous plan, Editorial Sept. 11

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and her crowd are playing on the fear of difference. Also, there is an appealing assumption that the more homogeneous society is the more harmonious society is. “If only we all could be the same,” as the thinking go, “we all would be better off.” That is, of course, pure bunk. A quick scan of the world reveals that many countries that score high on the homogeneous scale are riven by political turmoil.

Unless Quebec’s Parti Quebecois is deliberately exploiting ignorance for political gain — that may well be the case — Premier Marois, seemingly, cannot understand that Quebec, like the rest of Canada, is already a well-established multicultural society and every effort must be made to make the best of it. It is far too late to return to a simpler time when its society was less diverse.

Besides, a multicultural society offers so much more, although it does come with challenges, but that goes for all societies and all civilizations.

Ms Marois has not shown any evidence that the wearing or displaying religious symbols within the public service is a problem that warrants government action. If a few people in Quebec are upset at seeing a turban or headscarf on a person’s head or a large Christian cross hanging around the neck, my advice to them is: Get over it. Where’s the harm? Besides, a threat of prohibition raises the risk of “waking up a sleeping giant.”

If the PQ government thinks it has a problem with religious symbols, wait until minority groups hit the streets in protest. It won’t be a picnic.
Far better that the Quebec government build its society on its diversity. There is plenty of it and Quebeckers can learn and benefit so much more from each other. Therein lies the beauty and richness of diversity.

John Harvard, former Lt. Governor, Manitoba, Winnipeg

Isn’t journalism supposed to provide some balance in reporting? I have not read anything in your paper that simply explains the Quebec charter’s intent in an unbiased way. You’d think Quebec was promoting child molestation.

It’s clear that the Marois government is looking for an alternative to the policy of multiculturalism, but this is taboo. We are getting a one-sided condemnation from your newspaper, with no extra perspective.

Multiculturalism is only a recent official policy (the Trudeau years), and we have not yet seen its long-term effects. We can’t say then that multiculturalism is a universal, eternal value that is applicable always, everywhere until the end of time. We must continue to see it as a human invention that demands review, reflection and questioning. Let’s not close the debate and start a witch hunt against those who are opposed to it, please.

Erin McMurtry, Toronto

Recently an Afghani father visited a GTHA school to enrol his 10 daughters who were wearing full veils. He demanded that his girls were not to sit next to boys; not allowed to take music, art or history; nor to participate in sports either co-ed or same sex; or extra-curricular activities.

We don’t understand why school authorities have to accommodate those requests rather than present three options — accept the public school system’s practices and curricula; home-school their children or attend a private school that honours their religious beliefs.

If our family moved to a Muslim country we doubt any requests for Western values would be accommodated. When you move to another country you adapt to that country, not the reverse and even more in the event of becoming citizens. Multiculturism is a noble concept but our Canadian culture needs to be respected and followed or does multiculturism trump all?

Roger & Brigitte Dykstra, Ancaster


  1. While I can agree with Mme Mourani's contention that the proposed legislation is too sweeping in targeting hospital employees, teachers and daycare workers and should limit itself to the recommendations of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, the fact remains that the Quebec government does have an obligation to establish societal norms, such as in public education and that "multiculturalism" cannot become an excuse for some free for all where every interest group presents government with its list of demands....

    1. I'm not sure how much is actually being 'demanded', Rene. For example, in the third letter by the Dykstras, the source of his information is not revealed. It certainly wasn't reported in any media I am aware of. As well, there is no indication that the 'demands' of the Afghani were met. I suspect the letter itself represents something of a straw man argument, in that the anecdote bears no real relation to the Quebec Charter and the issues it raises.

  2. The whole "reasonable accomodation" debate in Quebec which resulted in the Bouchard-Taylor Commission was fueled by anecdotes such as that of the Dykstras which gave the ADQ of Mario Dumont a temporary rise in popularity. The PQ is trying to capture that electoral base with its current Charter.

    The recommendations of the Commission, however, were quite reasonable and had the PQ limited its Charter proposal to such recommendations, it would not have given rise to such public outcry nor split the ranks of the Bloc....

    1. Thanks for the information, Rene. I shall look up the Commission's recommendations.

  3. I thought multiculturalism started with Dief and his speech on "Being a Canadian" - by which he pointedly meant not an English-Canadian, nor a French-Canadian. (Indeed, I've always suspected Que's unease with multiculturalism is the threat it poses to a view that the nation's spoils should be split evenly between two - and only two - cultural groups.)

    1. That is probably what he meant, Wendell, but he said it at a time when Canada was far less diverse than it is today. it can be argued that societies that are dynamic and healthy need to change and adapt with the years; multiculturalism, of which I am a supporter, recognizes this and strives for 'reasonable accommodation' which, in my view, the Quebec Charter shows contempt for.

  4. I want to see them tell the catholics to quite wearing crosses.
    That should be good for a laugh.

    1. given their history, Dan, that would represent a formidable challenge.