A current topic in the French Quebec media is the push towards official secularization and the separation of religion and government. While the goal of eliminating overt connections with any particular religion seems reasonable enough, it is in realty, nothing more than a back door attack on Muslims and other immigrants that look different from old-stock Quebeckers.
One of the proposals being promoted is that government employees be barred from wearing religious symbols or clothing while serving the public. The idea has roots in the French law that bars religious regalia in schools and by public employees.
A big push is underway to enact similar legislation in Quebec, as many Quebeckers are frightened that Muslims are changing the traditional face of Quebec, particularly in Montreal. Those militating for such measures are clearly in store for a disappointment, any such law would be overturned by the Supreme Court. Canada is not France and such laws are clearly unconstitutional.
Many are also furious about concessions known as 'reasonable accommodations' made by public employees, mostly benefiting Muslims and Hasidic Jews whereby for example, a Muslim woman may ask to be served by a women instead of a man.
LE Devoir (French) a certain Michel Robichaud demanded his very own reasonable accommodation. He demanded that he not be served by a Hijab wearing, government employee when applying to renew his Medicare card in a government office.
A brouhaha ensued between the troublemaker and the director of the office and I can only imagine the utter humiliation suffered by the employee involved.
Imagine the hurt that this fool inflicted on an innocent government clerk, who was just trying to make a living through honest work.
The manger of the office was rightly furious at the grandstanding antics undertaken at the expense of one of his employees and told the complainer that if he didn't want to be served by the Hijab wearing woman he should get back into the waiting line, THE BACK OF THE LINE!
For Mr. Robichaud this reaction was manna from Heaven, he had gotten his wish fulfilled, a media event.
The story was carried by the Le Devoir which actually reported favorably on the complainer's position.
Of course Mr. Robichaud who was spoiling for a fight and lodged an official complaint with the Régie d'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) about his treatment, who told him in no uncertain terms what they thought of him.
Mr. Robichaud told reporters that the agency representative told him that the response he got was consistent with the agency policy.
"She said that they had not refused to serve me, but rather it was I who refused to receive the service. Under the principle of reasonable accommodation, the RAMQ allows it's employees to wear the Islamic veil, regardless of the opinion of the person being served."
"She also told me that my complaint was inadmissible because no law has ever been passed declaring Quebec a secular state. continued Robichaud. "By invoking the neutrality of the state, I had no legal basis, she said. Which law are you referring to she asked?
I hope that this racist attitude doesn't spread but I fear the seeds of discord have already been planted.
Last year I was in a Canadian Tire store in St. Laurent standing in the check out line when a grandmotherly type Francophone standing in front of me, started up with the teen aged cashier wearing a Hijab.
"My dear, don't you realize it's a symbol of oppression?"
The girl was mortified and stood in stunned silence during the lecture.
I was furious at the bullying and figuring that what's good for the goose is good for the gander, I decided to make it my business to ruin her day as well.
I moved in close and inches from her face let loose a loud barrage of insults that scared the crap out of her.
"VA CHIER, ESPECES DE P'TIT RACISTE!!!!
Maybe I shouldn't have done it, but it felt right at the time.
Come to think of it, it still feels right today.