• John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

Pushing Back Quebec Secularism

The Parti Québecois unleashed its disgusting Charter in the National Assembly and dared the opposition parties to, well, oppose it, threatening to make it an election issue. I’d say it is, since it strikes to the very heart of what it means to be Quebec, and a Quebecer—let alone a Canadian—today.

Friend Dr. Glenn Smith, an avowed evangelical Protestant, says he will start wearing a Huguenot cross in solidarity with his religious neighbours who wear crucifixes, niqabs, and the like. And I’d encourage all Quebec Protestants to wear such crosses as “conspicuously” as they can in order to peacefully challenge this ugly exercise in laïcité, the radical secularism characteristic of France at its nativist worst and, alas, typical of too many Quebecers as well.

As for the Rest of Canada, there’s a lot of narrow-minded support for this kind of “neutralizing” of citizens who work in government and public institutions. But the whole point of genuine multiculturalism is symbolized precisely in someone representing the state responsibly—fairly, courteously, and competently—while representing themselves faithfully as a member of this or that religious or ethnic group. To say that you cannot exercise public functions and thus properly represent the state without shearing off your religious symbols is to say that only secularists can authentically and without compromise be truly public servants. And that’s just wrong: illiberal, anti-fraternal, and unequal—to coin a phrase.

Shame on you, Péquistes, for appealing to the basest ethnocentric and xenophobic drives of the Quebec electorate. And shame on any of us elsewhere in Canada who insist that everyone who aspires to being a “real Canadian” be just like us.