I told you last week that the secularist 'victory' over the niqab clad women would open the floodgates of intolerance towards minority religions in Quebec and unfortunately it has already begun to manifest itself. The press is on a frenzied mission to root out any sort of accommodation towards minority religions and common citizens are already taking pot shots at these minorities in public with open season having already been declared on women wearing any sort of a head covering.
A couple of weeks ago the Minister of Education made a deal with a couple of Hasidic schools whereby they could stay open on the weekend to allow enough time to teach religion as well as the full course load as provided by the Ministry. To accommodate this, she was forced to change the law that banned school from teaching on the weekend. Instead of designating the days on which school must be taught, she changed the formula to that of a prescribed amount of hours and left the schedule to the discretion of the schools.
It seemed like a good idea at the time and the only ones affected were those schools who wanted to benefit from increased instruction time. The Minister unfortunately explained her decision as a step to battle the drop-out rate, when in reality, it was just a cover story used to hide the accommodation she made for these nine Hassidic schools.
When the opposition found out about it, all Hell broke lose, although I
still can't understand what it is exactly those opposed are complaining
The change to the law affects nobody except those schools
and school boards who want to benefit from the new flexibility. Those who aren't interested need not make any changes at all.
The provincial teachers union quickly gathered a 25,000 name petition against the idea and has complained that the whole provincial structure is being changed to accommodate just nine schools, although they don't explain how and what the effect is.
Pauline Marois of the PQ, added fuel to the fire by making the outrageously false statement in Parliament that the law would render Christmas and Easter as ordinary as any other day of the year, a statement designed to raise the hackles of Quebec Francophone Christians (most of whom ironically don't practice their faith.)
Either she is extremely stupid and uninformed or she intentionally is attempting to make political hay by hitching her star to the intolerance movement. You'd think she'd know that Christmas and Easter are statutory holidays, days when schools may not be open, regardless of the Education act.
And so the example of intolerance is being set by those who should know better and this mood has spilled over into the public.
Now a row has broken out in an Anglo minor hockey league over the scheduling of a playoff game on the first night of Passover, a holiday that almost all Jews, practising or not, celebrate at the family Seder table.
A team representing a west island community that is predominantly Jewish and whose hockey team consists of 10 Jews out of the 15 players, has requested that the playoff game be postponed by one day. The team was told by the league that no accommodation could be made, a spokesman claiming that it's an impossible task to schedule 700 games and take into consideration every community's holidays. Therefore no exceptions would be allowed (except Christmas, of course.)
The truth, however is somewhat different. There are only a couple of games left as the league winds down its season and there are only a few teams left in the playoffs. Two other teams still competing offered to switch their scheduled game day with the Jewish team and its opponent. Everybody cooperated in the spirit of sportsmanship and tolerance. There would be no adverse effect on the schedule and the Jewish team could continue their playoff run.
Still the league said no to the arrangement. Play on the original date or forfeit. Nice....
These are the small accommodations that are disappearing with this new wave of political animosity towards minorities, encouraged by those who preach secularism, as long as it doesn't apply to Christians.
The media storm surrounding the debate is unprecedented with the mood of the public shifting rather quickly against any accommodation at all. Yesterday, Premier Charest, usually a firm supporter of accommodations announced that he'd be drafting a law that would effectively bar any woman from wearing the veil in any public or para-public building. This includes hospitals and schools as well as government offices.
A spokesman for the Montreal Muslim Council complained that the measure is a bit of an overkill and reminded reporters that the law would apply to less than two dozen Quebec Muslims who wear the veil. He openly questioned where this would all takes us.
I'm afraid we are experiencing a fateful tipping point.
It's going to get worse and its going to get lot uglier.