Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça?!?!

So yesterday I wrote a little rumination about what happens when bureaucracy- spurred by reactionary ‘necessity’ to quell a whole load of bad press- gets a little ridiculous in the ‘whole shebang’ application of rules and regs.

I was talking about music- which is important to me, personally, and which is also a representation of this country and the freedoms and culture that we are able to access.  Keeping the doors open for new local and international music is a good thing.  It keeps Canada looking shiny and welcoming and full of creative outlets on the map of the world.

Today I feel a little silly for speaking out about a surcharge for touring bands.

Why?  It goes back to that matter of proportion I mentioned.

Today’s idiocy is crazy big in comparison.

There’s been a lot of buzz around what that kooky PQ Premier Pauline Marois was going to come up with next.  A few months ago she backed the Quebec Soccer Federation’s ban on religious headgear on the soccer field, suggesting that the Quebec Federation is “autonomous” and not bound by the rules of the Canadian Soccer Association.  The ban was eventually overturned- once FIFA weighed in and ‘clarified’ the ‘ambiguity’ that QSF said led to the ban in the first place.


So that little interference in the rights of citizens of Quebec was staved off- when the International governing body of the sport got involved and helped sort out the ‘language barrier’ that QSF claimed was the origin of the push for the ban.

Today all the murmurings were solidified as Bernard Drainville, the Minister who Premier Marois placed in charge, delivered the proposed Charter of Quebec Values which would prohibit those working for the state from wearing any outward trapping of religious affiliation.

They generously supplied the graphic up top there ^^^^^ to help us determine what is acceptable, non-ostentatious religious imagery and therefore allowable (that’d be top three pictures for the non-francophones among us) versus those thing that are just too conspicuous to be worn while undertaking the business of the province (or city).

(Ostentatoire means “ostentatious or conspicuous”.  Les signes ostentatoire are therefore ‘ostentatious or conspicuous signs or symbols’)

‘Ostentatious’ is relative and will be defined by the province should the legislation actually be passed.

Naturally, the voices of the politicos and pundits are being raised in varying choruses in response to all this.  So far I’ve seen this one against, and this one against, and this one which is for the proposal.

If you’ve read much of anything else I’ve had to say here at colemining central, you are likely aware that I’m not one for the organized religion or the believing in external supernatural manifestations of the wondrous and creative human imagination.

I am all for figuring out the humanity behind such wonderful (or terrible) creations, and I am all for living in a society/community/world where freedom of belief is a matter of course and not something that should be regulated- or supported in any financial way– by the state.

This lies at the heart of last week’s little introduction to the concept of secularization and the absolute separation of church and state that I firmly advocate.  By all means, believe what you want to believe.  As long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights and freedoms of others to believe what they want to believe AND as long as I don’t have to contribute to the support of your belief/group/commune/whatever with my tax dollars, we will all get along just fine.

Supporters of the proposed Charter claim that its origin lies in the impetus of the drive to secularization in Quebec.  I have heard people who emphatically maintain that it is a natural extension of things like the move to remove the teaching of religion in public schools.

(That requires some clarification.  Are they talking about ‘religious teachings’ or ‘teaching about religions’?  The former ABSOLUTELY have no place in publicly funded schools, but the latter SHOULD DEFINITELY be part of the curriculum in a multicultural society)

Not much said about the maintenance of the rights of ‘Separate Schools’ in that particular motivation, though.  But I’m not opening THAT can of worms at the mo’ (this post is long-winded enough as it is).

In addition to the obvious violations of personal rights and freedoms (as if those things alone weren’t enough), this proposal is filled with hypocrisy and ambiguous argumentation.  Attempting to legislate that people cannot wear what they want to wear if it is- or can be seen as- an outward expression of their beliefs is rife for misapplied interpretation.

All kinds of people dress to outwardly manifest their lifestyle or beliefs (religious or not) and we (arguably) let them alone to do their jobs.  Last I heard tell there was no ban on piercings or tattoos (at least nothing officially legislated), nor of particular hair styles or dyes, specific fashion choices and etc.

If I decided that I wanted to worship Ra, and began to wear the symbol of his wandering and watchful eye as a representation of my devotion to the god, would I be subject to the ban were I a public servant in Quebec?  Chances are most people would think I was wearing an ‘evil eye’ talisman and regard it as ‘not ostentatious’- if it was even recognized as a religious symbol.

(Ra’s wandering eye is actually the foundation of the Mediterranean and Mid-Eastern use of the evil eye as a talisman against demons and other negative influences.  But I digress…)

And then there are the crosses that riddle the province- like that big giant one on the Mont in Montreal.

This one here.  Not at all ‘ostentatious’
Apparently such architectural features are part of the cultural history of the province, just like the cross in the Assembly- where the proposal will be presented- and therefore exempt from the ban.

It’s a slippery slope.  Like the language laws.  Multiculturalism vs. Melting Pot (another issue far too large to address right now).

Most of the experts in Constitutional law that I’ve heard talking today say that the proposed Charter won’t stand against legal challenges.  It’s too obviously in contrast to things like free access to employment and the denial of individual identity, values that are upheld by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Add to that the fact that religious belief or non-belief does not equal impartiality.  That’s as faulty an argument as I’ve heard.  If someone is inclined to be biased in their viewpoint- to the extent that it might impinge upon them doing their jobs- then can’t the argument also be made that a ‘hidden’ (i.e. not outwardly manifested through appearance/clothing) ideology- such as white supremacy, as an extreme example- could potentially be more of an inhibition to someone doing a job without prejudice or attempting to exert undue influence in the execution of the job?

This is about a politician looking to create division between provincial and federal governments- for the furtherance of the separatist agenda.  It’s provocation and it’s politics.

But it’s also reprehensible.  And, as of this afternoon, it is apparently something that is gaining support in the general population.

Yesterday it was bureaucracy that was running amok.  Today it is purposeful divisiveness and blatantly un-Canadian political posturing with hyperbolic arguments about ‘distinct society’ and faux secularization.

Amok is a concept originating in Indonesia that can be roughly defined as ‘to make a furious and desperate charge’ (thank you Pythia/Wikipedia).  In the traditional sense, it was associated with possession by an evil spirit, eliminating the responsibility for the damage done while amok from the person under the influence of the externalized evil.

You know how I feel about externalizing evil.  And demons and such.

There is no excuse- political, demonic or otherwise- for this attempt at institutionalized and legislated intolerance in Canada.

Criss de calice de tabernac d’osti de sacrament!

Pardon my French.

P.S. Interesting that Quebecois profanity is all linked to Roman Catholicism and its liturgy.  Wonder if that outward manifestation of religious symbolism will be legislated next…

24 comments on “Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça?!?!

  1. Grumble Girl says:

    You took the French swears right out of my mouth… holy crap, this is bad. 😦

    • colemining says:

      Oh GG. What the hell is going on in la belle province? It’ll never pass (or survive challenges) but just the thought that anyone is TRYING to get this through makes my head- and Canadian heart- hurt. Thanks for reading, Lady!

  2. Wow! I had no idea. I’m tempted to give examples, like, “So, if I wanted to wear…” but I know it would get into the ridiculous. I’ll be very curious to see how this one turns out.

    • colemining says:

      It honestly is a repulsive political manouevre meant to increase the divide between Quebec and the federal government. Hoping it won’t get much further- but the current opinion polls have me discouraged. They are likely just reactionary- but that doesn’t excuse the impulse toward intolerance. Thanks for reading!

  3. This is such a bad, goofy un-Canadian idea, it makes me embarrassed. Aside from promoting religious intolerance, how can it possibly be enforced “fairly?” Are police and bureaucrats going to be given courses on recognizing worldwide religious symbols? And yes — the hypocrisy of displaying crosses in public places is laughable.

    • colemining says:

      That was exactly the point of one of the Liberals I saw interviewed this evening. Who exactly will be defining ‘ostentatious’- and what sort of ‘training’ will that person have to have in order to make such decisions on behalf of the State? Wow. I am seriously staggered by this. Thanks for reading Audrey.

  4. I often wonder what drives proposals such as this. It would seem to go against everything a heterogeneous culture represents for – and for no discernible purpose. It reminds me of the zero-tolerance policies you see in many schools these days. Zero tolerance is an easy way out for bureaucrats who find it simpler to slap a one-size-fits-all rule on every circumstance rather than trying to discern the facts behind individual cases.

    • colemining says:

      Boy, do I hear that. Too much taking the ‘easy way’ by legislating for the majority without any examination of the impact of such decisions. In this case I really think that is all about politics- and shoring up the separatist movement in a somewhat divided province (the Parti Quebecois that is making this ridiculous push is a minority government) and challenging the feds so that separation will be brought back into the forefront of the discourse. At least I hope that it’s purely political. I’m not sure I could stand it if this type of action was motivated by racism and intolerance. There’s more than enough of that stuff in the world- I’d rather it not be so incredibly and offensively apparent in my home and native land.

      Thanks for the comment- and for reading.

      • It seems like a losing strategy for a party that’s got an uphill battle to win over a significant percentage of the province’s electorate to begin with. It also seems very much at odds with the people I met on the handful of occasions I traveled to Montreal, Quebec City or other locales in the province, who didn’t seem to have too much of a problem with anyone, as long as they were pleasant and respectful.

      • colemining says:

        I love Quebec. Montreal is my second fave Canadian city. And the people are wonderful. This is reactionary politics that is looking for a reaction- if that makes any sense. I sincerely hope you are right about it being an uphill battle for the PQ. Despite what some may think, MY Canada includes Quebec.

      • I can understand the desire of some in Quebec to want to go it alone, but I think it would be disastrous for the country as a whole. The Maritimes would be further isolated, there would be potential brain- and business-drain from Quebec if taxes became confiscatory, which some in power seem intent on enacting, and it would further consolidate power in Ontario at the expense of the remaining provinces. There are many possible scenarios that could play out if Quebec ever became independent, and none of them would seem to be beneficial for the country as a whole. Personally, I find Quebec the most interesting part of Canada because it’s so different than the rest of the country and the US.

  5. colemining says:

    Separation would certainly have a devastating effect on the Maritimes, and the brain drain would be significant- especially if this government manages to get this Charter passed.
    Quebec is a beautiful place- so full of historical, cultural and natural wonders. It is ‘distinct’ in that it is so different from the rest of Canada (and the US), as you say. And those differences should be celebrated.
    But it would be a great loss to ALL of us- which is why I can’t understand the recurrent persistence of the drive to separate.

  6. yakinamac says:

    All very well said. I too consider the separation of religion and the state as a healthy thing, but this intolerance of those with a religious conviction is just spiteful.

    • colemining says:

      Yes. They keep using the terms ‘secularism’ and ‘secularization’ but, to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, I don’t think those words mean what they think they mean. Thanks for reading- and for your input!

  7. […] next table, just as they were leaving.  They were discussing their full-fledged support of the nonsense in Quebec- while loudly proclaiming their total ignorance of the beliefs and traditions of those they were […]

  8. […] number of low-grade racist comments lately.  Some of them are feedback from the idiocy happening in Quebec, but some seem to be rooted in the realities of the economy and the tensions that arise between […]

  9. […] I commented that the statue would bother me not at all.  Just as statues of Jesus or Buddha bother me not at all.  (Although if they are erected in public spaces using public funds… there’s a different argument to be found.  I touched on that here). […]

  10. […] started.  I wrote a bit about the idiocy in la belle province – the flipside of another kind of idiocy that I also I wrote about- when it first came to […]

  11. colemining says:

    Reblogged this on colemining and commented:

    Many MANY congratulations to the people of Quebec for using their voices and their votes to ensure that this nonsense that I wrote about a while back will not come to pass. Hope. It seems to be in the air today.

  12. My mind boggles each time I read of craziness in the guise of politics. As a teacher friend of mine is often wont to say, ‘The lunatics are running the asylum’. And she’s just referring to the schools. Part of the whole gig. Common sense may prevail. I hope.x

    • colemining says:

      I hope in this case it did- and will continue to do so under the new government, Anne-Marie. But I very much agree with your friend too much of the time. xo

  13. lennymaysay says:

    Didn’t know this was still going on. I recall back in ’95 when I was visiting your beautiful country, the vote for separation being defeated… narrowly if I still remember correctly.

    • colemining says:

      Unfortunately it’s an issue that comes up every now and again, Lenny. Hoping that the new majority Liberal government will still the separatist murmurings again for a time. And put the kybosh on that whole ‘Charter’ insanity. But time will tell. At least it seems as though a majority of people in la belle province are looking for unity rather than divisiveness. There is hope in that.

      Thanks for reading!

  14. […] looking to reiterate and maximize his politics of division- especially in parts of Quebec, which, as we have seen, has its own issues with xenophobic and racist […]

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