Please note, the people in this video do not represent the majority of QuÃ©bÃ©cois. They are not representative of the people of this province.
They are, however, representative of PQ supporters.
Draw your own conclusions.
This video is now making the rounds, I guess it was recorded on Friday at the Bill 60 public consultation. For this blog’s international audience, the current minority government of QuÃ©bec (the Parti QuÃ©bÃ©cois or PQ) is proposing the adoption of a charter of QuÃ©bec values, effectively enshrining secularism as official government policy.
While I’m generally supportive of more secularism, the bill as proposed is a hopeless mess of poorly disguised ethno-nationalism and politically expedient fear-mongering. Particularly disturbing is the simultaneous enshrinement of Catholicism as an integral part of the QuÃ©bec cultural identity. While I’m cognizant of the Catholic Church’s influence on local affairs throughout much of our history, I’m loathe to go as far as saying the Church is officially a part of my identity.
In any event, the three ‘witnesses’ provided a pretty clear and direct insight into the minds of our province’s equivalent to Tea Party supporters. They are incredibly racist despite their insistence to the contrary, and demonstrate a simply baffling degree of ignorance. It would be hilarious if it also weren’t so terribly sad.
It’s as though they’re completely oblivious of their lacking in cultural sophistication. Perhaps that’s just the problem.
The public hearings into Bill 60 have apparently provided an outlet for every bigot in the province to come out and express themselves freely. In the video the opposition critic (representing the Liberal Party of Quebec) encourages one of the witnesses to continue talking, aware of just how poorly this will reflect on the PQ.
This article was originally published by Forget the Box – read it here.
Provincial Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville commenced public hearings into the proposed Charter of Quebec Values by asking that the impending debate remain respectful.
The charter is disrespectful in and of itself. That the separatists are wasting precious public funds to have a public debate only adds insult to injury. It reminds of me of when Ahmadinejad would convene conferences denying the existence of the Holocaust.
Itâ€™s the premise thatâ€™s fucked.
The problem the charter intends to solve doesnâ€™t really exist. The culture of QuÃ©bec is not threatened, never was, least of all by a few members of various religious minorities with public-sector jobs. That this charter will result in people, citizens, taxpayers, having to choose between their faith and their jobs, all the while entrenching â€˜overt public displaysâ€™ of Catholicism as an apparently crucial component of QuÃ©becâ€™s cultural identity is incredibly hypocritical. Itâ€™s obscene.
Moreover, itâ€™s unnecessary. All Canadians are already protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Charter specifically states we have the right to be free of religious persecution. Telling civil servants they canâ€™t keep their jobs if they continue to wear a hijab, a turban or a yarmulke is religious persecution. Telling the people their culture is more-or-less doomed to extinction unless everyone blindly goes along with a plan to institutionalize racism is damn near fascistic. Suffice it to say I canâ€™t imagine the charter in its current form would survive a Supreme Court challengeâ€¦
But therein lies the rub.
After itâ€™s ruled as unconstitutional, the pÃ©quistes in government can invoke the notwithstanding clause and go ahead with it anyways. That or the PQ will simply say that because LÃ©vesque stubbornly refused to sign the Constitution Act theyâ€™re not bound by it anyways and can do as they please.
Meanwhile, unemployment continues to rise, Northern economic development is stillborn, infrastructure crumbles and the people of QuÃ©bec are asked, as weâ€™ve grown accustomed, to do more with less and settle into a lower standard of living. The charter hearings serve merely to distract the public from the PQâ€™s consistently reprehensible economic and social records. Not to say the Quebec Liberals are much of a better option, but at least they generally have the sense not to stir up trouble for short-term political gains. In any event, an election is expected this year, and you better believe the PQ is going to do just about everything they can to keep attention focused on the problems theyâ€™ve created or invented.
Itâ€™s gutter politics really â€“ a party acts as spokesperson for a vaguely defined â€˜silent majorityâ€™ whose core values are threatened simply because they say so. This majority for whom the party speaks is silent for a reason â€“ it is an ultimately the illusion of an exclusive club, and the message is always party, not people, driven. The message is always the same: the minorities are a threat to the sanctity of the majorityâ€™s identity and something in turn must be done.
In Israel, far-right anti-immigrant parties hold rallies where hysterical women wail at the microphone about how they fear being raped â€˜by packs of wild Africansâ€™, or relate completely groundless anecdotes to the same point. Members of this party, if you can believe it, actually favour rounding up all African immigrants in Israel and sticking them in concentration camps.
In Eastern Europe, far-right ultra-nationalist parties preaching even more violent means of eliminating undesirable ethnic minorities (notably the Roma) use much the same rhetoric as their Israeli counterparts to justify their own hate and prejudice.
Granted, Bill 60 isnâ€™t as bad as all that, but the itâ€™s rooted in the same kind of hate, ignorance and shitty populism.
The PQ defines who is and who isnâ€™t QuÃ©bÃ©cois, and they only ever represent the QuÃ©bÃ©cois who fit their narrow description. Anyone who questions the legitimacy of the party or its purpose, anyone who criticizes the leadership, anyone who refuses to support needlessly divisive legislation such as Bill 60 â€“ these people are not QuÃ©bÃ©cois in the PQâ€™s eyes, they are obstacles on the road to independence.
When ethno-nationalist governments run out of any kind of political legitimacy they create social panics concerning a potential loss of cultural identity, typically resulting in punitive social policy that aims to further marginalize minorities while claiming they represent a clear and present public danger.
QuÃ©bec, in this particular case, is very much like a host of small, impotent, nations driven pointlessly into national (but not economic) sovereignty as a consequence of invented ethno-nationalist panics. As a proud QuÃ©bÃ©cois, I want my â€˜nationâ€™ to aspire to be greater than Serbia, Croatia or Uzbekistan.
Whatâ€™s particularly onerous is that the bill, ostensibly designed in part to protect women from various abuses (real and imagined) in conservative, male-dominated religiously observant households, will in fact put working women out of their jobs. Nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers, early childhood educators, government employees of all kinds â€“ and all these precisely the kinds of jobs that can help entrench a family in the local middle class. Itâ€™s hard enough to integrate into QuÃ©bÃ©cois society and culture; what does it say of the PQ when theyâ€™re proposing we â€˜respectfullyâ€™ discuss throwing religious minorities out of their rightfully earned jobs?
Iâ€™ll have none of it.
I want out of this discussion because I fail to see any reason to have it in the first place. The proposal is flawed, politically expedient by appealing to base populism and motivated by a desire to define the forthcoming election in terms of whose better suited to protect QuÃ©bÃ©cois against the threats dreamt up by the PQ.
I canâ€™t respectfully abide any of this. I donâ€™t think weâ€™ve seen obscenely manipulative politics like this in our province since the Duplessis Era.