Madame Marois and her separatist PQ party have been pushing the principle that religion should be removed from government and para-public institutions. This policy was crafted not so much to reflect Quebec's disengagement from the Catholic Church, but rather to put a check on orthodox Muslims, Hassidic Jews and Sikhs whose orthodoxy frightens and annoys most old stock French Quebeckers.
The debate rages on over the principle of 'reasonable accommodations,' a concept wherein exceptions are made in public policy to accommodate people on the basis of religious convictions.
An example of a religious accommodation is a patient asking that she be seen by a female doctor, for modesty purposes. Another accommodation is to allow the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, a public institution to continue to serve Kosher food only.
Some accommodations are tiny, some are big, but most Quebeckers are tired of them all and in opinion poll after opinion poll, hold by a large majority that no religious accommodations should be tolerated at all.
The issue cuts across political lines, with the most radical sovereignist part, Quebec Solidaire, solidly in favour of allowing accommodations, while The Parti Quebecois proposes that no religious dress or signs be worn by employees in court, government offices, schools or para-public facilities in general. This means that no niqabs, hijabs, kippas, turbans or large or ostentatious crosses would be allowed.
While this position appears fair and seemingly impacts all religions equally, it's clear that the proposal targets Muslims who are just about the only religious minority that works for the government in any numbers. (You're never going to get served by a Hassid at the license bureau!) This 'fair' proposal was attacked by Mr. Bouchard on the television show and Pauline Marois did some neat tap dancing to explain that while the province should project a religiously neutral face, Christian symbols and customs should be maintained.
|Crucifix in Quebec Parliament|
Mr. Bouchard asked Ms. Marois that if her policy was to be put in force, whether the Crucifix that sits over the Speakers chair in the Quebec Parliament would have to come down to reflect this new secularism.
Errrr. Noooo, because..err.....well.....you see..... uhmmm.......
"Because it is part of Quebec Heritage!" The Crucifix.... it should stay. It is part of Quebec's history which shouldn't be erased!" She finally blurted out.
And so a new policy is born.
Christian symbols are no longer necessarily Christian, when they are part of Quebec's heritage
"The crucifix was introduced by Duplessis to affirm that the leadership of the Quebec government was "guided" by the hand of God himself through his humble disciple."So much for the Crucifix not being a religious symbol.
By the way the Jewish General Hospital, built by the Jewish community, opened it's doors in 1934 and always served kosher food. Do you think that Madame Marois would also consider this a part of Quebec heritage that should be maintained? Not likely.
During the Bouchard/Taylor Commission, the Jewish General Hospital was a popular target of so-called secularists, who even objected to the name. The fact that almost every large city Quebec has a "Hotel Dieu" or "Notre Dame" hospital is beside the point, those names represent Quebec heritage, according to the PQ.
The position of the Parti Quebecois remains laughably hypocritical.
|Crucifix over Mont-Royal|
And so in the new secular Quebec, no religion will be favoured except that the 15,000 place names based on the Christian bible will remain. We can continue to live on Saint Andre Street, on Jesus Island, near the Saint Lawrence River. The celebration of Christian holidays as the only officially paid religious holidays will remain. Crucifixes in public buildings, including schools, hospitals and government offices will remain and Christian prayers may be recited before town council meetings.
And of course no religion will be favoured over another, at least not officially, according to Madame Marois....