How should Jagmeet Singh best address Quebec's proposed new secularism law?

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How should Jagmeet Singh best address Quebec's proposed new secularism law?

Apart from removing his turban, that is.

Would it be best for Jagmeet Singh to leave it alone as there already is some opposition to it, and it is provincial legislation, or should he jump into the fray?

Quebec government tables secularism law setting rules for religious symbols

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-notwithstanding-religious-symbols-1.5073945

Pondering

He should leave it alone. It is a provincial issue not federal. If he is asked directly he should offer his take on the issue without condemnation. 

Sean in Ottawa

He will not be able to leave it alone as he will be confronted with it. What he can do is answer very simply from the heart and say he does not like it. He can leave out a policy answer and he can make his answer personal. This would do no harm as nobody woudl assume anything other than that he does not like it.

voice of the damned

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

He will not be able to leave it alone as he will be confronted with it. What he can do is answer very simply from the heart and say he does not like it. He can leave out a policy answer and he can make his answer personal. This would do no harm as nobody woudl assume anything other than that he does not like it.

Do you really think that people who like the Quebec law will so readily buy the idea that Singh's "personal opinion" is in no way indicative of how he would govern? Let's try a thought-experiment...

1988

REPORTER: Preston Manning, what are your thoughts on provinces like Quebec and Manitoba enshrining protection for gays and lesbians in their human-rights codes?

MANNING: Well, that's not a federal matter, but personally, I think that's just giving special rights to people based on their lifestyle, and I'm therefore against it.

Going by that, gays and lesbians and their allies would have no reason to worry about how the Reform Party would govern? 

 

Sean in Ottawa

voice of the damned wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

He will not be able to leave it alone as he will be confronted with it. What he can do is answer very simply from the heart and say he does not like it. He can leave out a policy answer and he can make his answer personal. This would do no harm as nobody woudl assume anything other than that he does not like it.

Do you really think that people who like the Quebec law will so readily buy the idea that Singh's "personal opinion" is in no way indicative of how he would govern? Let's try a thought-experiment...

1988

REPORTER: Preston Manning, what are your thoughts on provinces like Quebec and Manitoba enshrining protection for gays and lesbians in their human-rights codes?

MANNING: Well, that's not a federal matter, but personally, I think that's just giving special rights to people based on their lifestyle, and I'm therefore against it.

Going by that, gays and lesbians and their allies would have no reason to worry about how the Reform Party would govern? 

 

You misunderstand me. This will do no harm becuase those who will not appreciate this will never vote for him anyway. The only damage he could do is try to please the people he cannot please and lose the people who would consider supporting him.

Do you really believe that the people who like the law in Quebec would consider voting for Singh in any numbers and that anything he says would make a difference to him?

This is the age-old problem of politicians trying to please the population instead of considering pleasing their potential supporters. The ones that are not potential supporters -- however numerous are not worth sacrificing any potential supporters for. This is why what works for one party often fails for another. They may be in the same place and election but they actually have different audiences and people to interact with.

In your thought experiment Manning had to consider right wing people who were not anti-LGBTQ and those who expected such a stand from him. He woudl decide which was most beneficial. Singh's position is simpler: as he wears a turban, any who are anti turban are really votes out of his reach by doing nothing. Maybe he might actually change the minds of a handful by engaging but he wins nothing by ignoring. For the most part they are votes out of reach. He risks losing the votes of people who expect him to stand up for human rights as these people are most of his potential supporters.

voice of the damned

Ah, I see your point, and indeed, I hadn't factored in Singh's own visible display of religious allegiance. I might get back to this later when I've had further reflection.

Sean in Ottawa

voice of the damned wrote:

Ah, I see your point, and indeed, I hadn't factored in Singh's own visible display of religious allegiance. I might get back to this later when I've had further reflection.

BTW - a generalization about Quebec. Politicians who show humility, courage and humanity tend to do well. Even though this may on the surface be unpopular, how he handles it can win support.

I think Quebec tends to vote a little more on character and impressions of the person than the rest of Canada. This is why I would not rule out anyone in Quebec unles they have the personality of a dead fish, insult Quebec, or don't try.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

voice of the damned wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

He will not be able to leave it alone as he will be confronted with it. What he can do is answer very simply from the heart and say he does not like it. He can leave out a policy answer and he can make his answer personal. This would do no harm as nobody woudl assume anything other than that he does not like it.

Do you really think that people who like the Quebec law will so readily buy the idea that Singh's "personal opinion" is in no way indicative of how he would govern? Let's try a thought-experiment...

1988

REPORTER: Preston Manning, what are your thoughts on provinces like Quebec and Manitoba enshrining protection for gays and lesbians in their human-rights codes?

MANNING: Well, that's not a federal matter, but personally, I think that's just giving special rights to people based on their lifestyle, and I'm therefore against it.

Going by that, gays and lesbians and their allies would have no reason to worry about how the Reform Party would govern? 

 

That analogy doesn't work, because there is nothing in Singh's turban or beard that equates to taking rights away from anyone.  "Secularists" in Quebec aren't going to lose their jobs, get kicked out of their apartments, be denied the right to marry the people they love or be beaten in the street because Singh or other Sikhs wear religious symbols in public or in an office.  And it goes without saying that, if anybody wanted to stage a takeover of Quebec on the part of a religion, barring that religion's symbols would do nothing to prevent it.

In any case, Sikhs don't even WANT to take over Quebec, or Canada, or anyplace else.

Unionist

If I were Jagmeet Singh, I would say:

"This is a matter that can only be decided by the people of Québec. That's the way our federation works. The NDP will respect that decision."

And to Ken Burch's point... I wouldn't mention Khalistan.

Pogo Pogo's picture

I agree with Unionist

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

BTW, we really need a more accurate term to describe those in Quebec who identify as "secularists"-or at least those who identify with the form of "secularism" that is identified with the PQ and the CAQ.  They aren't pushing for a gentle, accepting notion of society, in which no one is oppressed by religion-they are actually working, in a deeply passive-aggressive, European-supremacist way, for a notion of life in which ANY symbols of faith, even in the case of faith traditions like Buddhism or Sikhism which have never sought to impose anything remotely similar to religious tyranny, have never sought to force anyone to into the "convert or die" paradigm Christianity pushes on the areas it dominates.  They make no distinction between a faith which seeks to rule all and faiths which simply seek to provide guidance for those who follow them.  Those who hold to this version of "secularism"( or "laïcité", as the French call it), are not advocating for a society in which all are welcome, so long as no one does harm to others-what they are truly pushing for is a rigid, inflexible notion of society in which all faith traditions are seen as equally oppressive and equally dangerous, except for the faith tradition of Englightenment-supremacism; the essentially imperialist notion that secular European culture represents the gold standard, that religion, even non-European, non-oppressive religion, is always equivalent to oppression-and secretly, those on the right wing of this school of thought, cut Christianity more slack than any other faiths, even though the ONLY faith tradition in Quebec history that has ever oppressed or harmed anyone was Christianity, the cross remains in the National Assembly and there is a tacit assumption. even among right-laïcitistes, that Quebec is proof of the intrinsic superiority of "Christian civilization".

It's fine to want a society in which no organized religion dictates what the state does.  This objective does not require an outright prohibition on all religious symbols, except for the National Assembly crucifix, or an assumption that all religious traditions and all religious symbols are equally oppressive.  And it does not require a policy on symbols that clearly exists for one reason and one reason alone: To delegitimize and "Other" Quebec Muslims. 

 

Unionist

Pogo wrote:

I agree with Unionist

Now YOU'RE doing it!!!

robbie_dee
Unionist

So do I - but I live here, he doesn't. And let me tell you this clearly: If the people of Québec don't reject this divisive and xenophobic legislation - either now, or later, or whenever - then nothing Jagmeet Singh or Justin Trudeau or robbie_dee or anyone says will make any difference.

We rejected the PQ's "Charter of Values". We can defeat this too.

And did he misspeak at 0:21 - when he said the legislation divides the population, "and divides the provinces that are bringing people together"? Maybe I misheard him, but I don't think so - he misspoke, no?

Anyway, I don't believe he should comment on issues like this. What will he say if they ask him: "Should they take down the crucifix in the National Assembly?" Or, "should they get rid of Catholic public schools in Alberta, Ontario...?" 

robbie_dee

I'm not a fan of Jagmeet for ample other reasons. But on this issue, even if it is not technically in the federal jurisdiction, I don't see why he should be precluded from commenting either in his personal capacity or in his capacity as leader of a federal party that is active in the province. This is a human rights issue and the government of Quebec is in the wrong on it. In any case I don't think there is any practical way he could have avoided commenting on it under the circumstances and by and large I think he struck the right tone here.

cco

Ken Burch wrote:

faith traditions like Buddhism or Sikhism which have never sought to impose anything remotely similar to religious tyranny, have never sought to force anyone to into the "convert or die" paradigm Christianity pushes on the areas it dominates.  They make no distinction between a faith which seeks to rule all and faiths which simply seek to provide guidance for those who follow them.

The idea that only European religions (which is an odd descriptor, transferred somewhat inappropriately from anti-imperialist discourse – European colonial empires imposed Christianity the same way the Umayyad empire imposed Islam, but Christianity didn't originate in Europe, nor are the majority of Christians European) are aggressive or oppressive is as incorrect as the idea that only non-European ones are. South and East Asia are full of examples of Buddhist violence, both historically and in the present day in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, to name two.

Ken Burch wrote:

all faith traditions are seen as equally oppressive and equally dangerous, except for the faith tradition of Englightenment-supremacism

Ah. We're back to "but isn't secularism really just a religion?"

Ken Burch wrote:

the essentially imperialist notion that secular European culture represents the gold standard, that religion, even non-European, non-oppressive religion, is always equivalent to oppression-and secretly, those on the right wing of this school of thought, cut Christianity more slack than any other faiths, even though the ONLY faith tradition in Quebec history that has ever oppressed or harmed anyone was Christianity, the cross remains in the National Assembly and there is a tacit assumption. even among right-laïcitistes, that Quebec is proof of the intrinsic superiority of "Christian civilization".

In the looser version of advocacy coalition framework theory, a "policy community" can be assembled of people who agree on a single issue, regardless of their motivations – for a current example, see the people who support Brexit because they believe the EU enshines neoliberalism allying with the people who support Brexit because they think the EU's responsible for Pakistani immigration. The fact the CAQ is pushing this bill for xenophobic reasons doesn't mean that, for example, the Conseil du statut de la femme are a bunch of racists using feminism as a fig leaf. That kind of simplistic analysis leads to the silencing of minority feminists – just ask Fatima Houda-Pepin, who got politically "othered" by the PLQ for daring to speak out against fundamentalism. And of course, on the religious right, it's not just Duplessis nostalgists – you have Muslims who want to keep the crucifix up so there's an "overt symbol of faith" in government buildings.

This has been an active debate in Quebec for more than a decade now – on the left, among feminists, and even within minority religious communities. Reducing it to "Quebecers sure are racist, huh?" is inaccurate and unhelpful.

Pondering

Unionist wrote:

Pogo wrote:

I agree with Unionist

Now YOU'RE doing it!!!

I agree with Unionist.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I think it's a good answer.  He didn't get tricked into telling Quebec what to do or not do, but nobody can fault him for telling his own story of how it felt to be othered.

Questions like this are often "lose or draw", with "win" not really being an option. 

Pondering

I agree with cco. 

You have to take into account Quebec's history to understand their position. The Quiet Revolution was against the Church as well as English business dominance. Getting the church out of government and education took a very long time. I believe it is bill 101 that finally dissolved Catholic school boards. 

Because the Church was so deeply embedded in Quebec history and society many of our buildings exhibit religious imagry. When Motherhouse was transformed into an English CEGEP the stone angels on the building were preserved. Our many old churches represent some of the best architecture in Quebec. Same goes for paintings and sculpture. The cross on Mont Royal is not a sacred place.

The Cross in the general assembly can and should be moved but it was not being kept there as a religious symbol in recent times. It had become simply a historical artifact even though it isn't that old. 

So when Quebecers are polled about how they feel about visible religious symbols on people in government or in power they have an automatic negative opinion on it. Sisters even stopped wearing habits. 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

cco wrote:
Ken Burch wrote:

faith traditions like Buddhism or Sikhism which have never sought to impose anything remotely similar to religious tyranny, have never sought to force anyone to into the "convert or die" paradigm Christianity pushes on the areas it dominates.  They make no distinction between a faith which seeks to rule all and faiths which simply seek to provide guidance for those who follow them.

The idea that only European religions (which is an odd descriptor, transferred somewhat inappropriately from anti-imperialist discourse – European colonial empires imposed Christianity the same way the Umayyad empire imposed Islam, but Christianity didn't originate in Europe, nor are the majority of Christians European) are aggressive or oppressive is as incorrect as the idea that only non-European ones are. South and East Asia are full of examples of Buddhist violence, both historically and in the present day in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, to name two.

Ken Burch wrote:

all faith traditions are seen as equally oppressive and equally dangerous, except for the faith tradition of Englightenment-supremacism

Ah. We're back to "but isn't secularism really just a religion?"

Ken Burch wrote:

the essentially imperialist notion that secular European culture represents the gold standard, that religion, even non-European, non-oppressive religion, is always equivalent to oppression-and secretly, those on the right wing of this school of thought, cut Christianity more slack than any other faiths, even though the ONLY faith tradition in Quebec history that has ever oppressed or harmed anyone was Christianity, the cross remains in the National Assembly and there is a tacit assumption. even among right-laïcitistes, that Quebec is proof of the intrinsic superiority of "Christian civilization".

In the looser version of advocacy coalition framework theory, a "policy community" can be assembled of people who agree on a single issue, regardless of their motivations – for a current example, see the people who support Brexit because they believe the EU enshines neoliberalism allying with the people who support Brexit because they think the EU's responsible for Pakistani immigration. The fact the CAQ is pushing this bill for xenophobic reasons doesn't mean that, for example, the Conseil du statut de la femme are a bunch of racists using feminism as a fig leaf. That kind of simplistic analysis leads to the silencing of minority feminists – just ask Fatima Houda-Pepin, who got politically "othered" by the PLQ for daring to speak out against fundamentalism. And of course, on the religious right, it's not just Duplessis nostalgists – you have Muslims who want to keep the crucifix up so there's an "overt symbol of faith" in government buildings.

This has been an active debate in Quebec for more than a decade now – on the left, among feminists, and even within minority religious communities. Reducing it to "Quebecers sure are racist, huh?" is inaccurate and unhelpful.

1) I was not saying all Quebecers are bigots or anything close to that-my comments there were directed specifically and solely at those trying to pass a law that forces extreme Euro-supremacist cultural conformity on those whose only crime is dressing in a way that identifies them as non-Christians and non-Europeans.  And yes, I get it that Christianity was imposed on Europe as a form of religious imperialism; that doesn't mean, after centuries in which European values and Christian values were treated as synonymous-as the ghosts of every victim of the Inquisition, the witch burnings, the pogroms and Hitler's deeds were lethally reminded-that Christian Supremacism in Canada is not European imperialism, or that Enlightment supremacism-which is not the same thing at all as saying that "secularism is its own religion", but is, instead, the delusion that what people in France came to hold as their values in the late Eighteenth Century marked the end of any need to listen to or learn from people of any other culture, race, values system or society, in other words that that moment was its own "end of history", the end of any need to question or critique any assumptions people of that era had reached, that all had been learned and decided.

2) My phrasing could have been more precise in the second paragraph-I'll concede that there have been some bad choices made by those acting in the name of non-Christian faiths; but would anyone argue that Buddhism, or even Sikhism, are responsible for any level of savagery anywhere close to what's been done in the name of "Christian civilization"?  Or anything in Quebec remotely close to the damage the "black robes" helped cause?

3)It has never been necessary to oppose the voluntary wearing of burqas in government offices, or day care centers, to oppose fundamentalism.  Obviously everyone on this board and in this discussion opposes fundamentalism in all faith traditions.  It is, however, wrong to single out Islam(or Sikhism, for those who won't stop obsessing about Singh's beard or turban, neither of which are any threat to anyone's personal liberty), as any more fundamentalist than any other faith.  And it goes without saying that barring the hijab would do nothing to stop Islamic fundamentalism, but rather intensify it by creating a feeling of persecution among Muslims, including the vast majority of Muslim women who don't wear it.

4) It does raise questions as to how much the Conseil can claim to advocate for Muslim women when it refuses to listen to them and when it presumes to restrict how they can dress; if you are forced to make your wardrobe conform to a cultural supremacist standard, what possible autonomy or agency can you have about anything else?  What dignity could you still hold onto?  You to realize that all Muslim women in Quebec and the ROC who wear hijab do solely of their own volition, right?  That it isn't possible, in North America, for anyone to force them to do so? 

As to the Muslim clerics who support the National Assembly cross on the grounds you describe, well, the opportunists you have with you always.

Pondering

Ken Burch wrote:
 

2) My phrasing could have been more precise in the second paragraph-I'll concede that there have been some bad choices made by those acting in the name of non-Christian faiths; but would anyone argue that Buddhism, or even Sikhism, are responsible for any level of savagery anywhere close to what's been done in the name of "Christian civilization"?  Or anything in Quebec remotely close to the damage the "black robes" helped cause?

 

And you believe this to be general knowledge? 

Ken Burch wrote:
 4) It does raise questions as to how much the Conseil can claim to advocate for Muslim women when it refuses to listen to them and when it presumes to restrict how they can dress; if you are forced to make your wardrobe conform to a cultural supremacist standard, what possible autonomy or agency can you have about anything else?  What dignity could you still hold onto?  You to realize that all Muslim women in Quebec and the ROC who wear burqas do solely of their own volition, right?  That it isn't possible, in North America, for anyone to force them to do so?  

And women have been in favor of FGM for their daughters who have welcomed it as they want to get married and have families and no man will want them without it, including in Canada.  Just because a woman does something of her own violition doesn't mean feminists have to support it. 

I am 100% on the side of women choosing what they wear however I have read more than one account that since 9/11 many women have started wearing hijab in defense of Islam which is a political statement not a religious one. 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Pondering wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:
 

2) My phrasing could have been more precise in the second paragraph-I'll concede that there have been some bad choices made by those acting in the name of non-Christian faiths; but would anyone argue that Buddhism, or even Sikhism, are responsible for any level of savagery anywhere close to what's been done in the name of "Christian civilization"?  Or anything in Quebec remotely close to the damage the "black robes" helped cause?

 

And you believe this to be general knowledge? 

Ken Burch wrote:
 4) It does raise questions as to how much the Conseil can claim to advocate for Muslim women when it refuses to listen to them and when it presumes to restrict how they can dress; if you are forced to make your wardrobe conform to a cultural supremacist standard, what possible autonomy or agency can you have about anything else?  What dignity could you still hold onto?  You to realize that all Muslim women in Quebec and the ROC who wear hijab do solely of their own volition, right?  That it isn't possible, in North America, for anyone to force them to do so?  

And women have been in favor of FGM for their daughters who have welcomed it as they want to get married and have families and no man will want them without it, including in Canada.  Just because a woman does something of her own violition doesn't mean feminists have to support it. 

I am 100% on the side of women choosing what they wear however I have read more than one account that since 9/11 many women have started wearing hijab in defense of Islam which is a political statement not a religious one. 

1) FGM-which is not actually a Muslim custom, btw, it's a barbaric pre-Muslim custom which survives in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries, and does so mainly because it serves the interest of patriarchy in those countries to have it survive, interests which are almost entirely political and cultural rather than religious.

2) FGM and the VOLUNTARY wearing of the burqa have nothing in common.  Obviously, if a Muslim women comes to friends or co-workers or volunteers at a women's shelter and says that-among other things-she is being forced to wear it, than she should be supported in her right not to wear it.  It can never be anti-oppression, however, to force a Muslim woman not to wear a burqa she freely chooses to wear, because if she wears that garment by choice it is no more oppressive than a nun who chooses to wear a habit once her order has made that garment voluntary.

3) Why does it matter if a Muslim woman wears a hijab-I just realized I need to go back and correct my usage there in previous posts and will now do so-as a political statement?  Would it be acceptable to have barred women from wearing "Stop Harper!" buttons between 2006 and 2015, or to bar Palestinian-Canadians from wearing a kaffiyeh or a "Free Palestine" bage out of solidarity with their oppressed countrypeople back home?  

Why not just accept that the question of wearing a hijab is solely the concern of the woman who wears it?

I'm not sure what the point is about whether what I said in the first graph is general knowledge or not.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
The Cross in the general assembly can and should be moved but it was not being kept there as a religious symbol in recent times. It had become simply a historical artifact even though it isn't that old.

It's pretty hard to strip out the religious symbolism of it and leave only the historical.  If it really is "history", why not put it in a museum with all the other old things?  The problem wasn't holding on to some old thing from the past, it was continuing to give it a significant (and exclusive) place of honour. 

Pretending something is about "history", rather than about continuing to honour something that doesn't deserve it, is the argument used to prolong the public display of statues of slave owners and the like.

Quote:
You to realize that all Muslim women in Quebec and the ROC who wear hijab do solely of their own volition, right?  That it isn't possible, in North America, for anyone to force them to do so?

It's not?  Well.  TIL.

cco

Ken Burch wrote:

that doesn't mean...that Christian Supremacism in Canada is not European imperialism

Part of the point of my post was that not everyone who supports secularism – even the CAQ's bill, or the Liberals' Bill 62, or the PQ's Charter of Values – is a Christian supremacist. There's a sizable community of left-wing supporters who really do believe in secularism – including Muslim women like Fatima Houda-Pepin.

Ken Burch wrote:

or that Enlightment supremacism-which is not the same thing at all as saying that "secularism is its own religion", but is, instead, the delusion that what people in France came to hold as their values in the late Eighteenth Century marked the end of any need to listen to or learn from people of any other culture, race, values system or society, in other words that that moment was its own "end of history", the end of any need to question or critique any assumptions people of that era had reached, that all had been learned and decided.

The ideological ancestor of these bills is the Quiet Revolution – which really did, in my opinion, mark the end of the need to listen to the Pope's commentary on Quebec policy. (Conrad Black and his ilk disagree, of course.) Theocrats have been calling people who refuse to obey them "arrogant" for millennia.

Ken Burch wrote:

My phrasing could have been more precise in the second paragraph-I'll concede that there have been some bad choices made by those acting in the name of non-Christian faiths; but would anyone argue that Buddhism, or even Sikhism, are responsible for any level of savagery anywhere close to what's been done in the name of "Christian civilization"?  Or anything in Quebec remotely close to the damage the "black robes" helped cause?

I'm certainly not advocating for Christianity – see upthread when I was cheering the crucifix coming down. However, once we get to ranking comparative body counts, it does let a bit of air out of the argument that only European religions are violent. Even if Eastern religious violence is described as "bad choices".

Ken Burch wrote:

3)It has never been necessary to oppose the voluntary wearing of burqas in government offices, or day care centers, to oppose fundamentalism.  Obviously everyone on this board and in this discussion opposes fundamentalism in all faith traditions.  It is, however, wrong to single out Islam(or Sikhism, for those who won't stop obsessing about Singh's beard or turban, neither of which are any threat to anyone's personal liberty), as any more fundamentalist than any other faith.  And it goes without saying that barring the burqa would do nothing to stop Islamic fundamentalism, but rather intensify it by creating a feeling of persecution among Muslims, including the vast majority of Muslim women who don't wear the burqa...It does raise questions as to how much the Conseil can claim to advocate for Muslim women when it refuses to listen to them and when it presumes to restrict how they can dress

I know Muslim women who don't even wear the hijab, and are quite uneasy with the fact the left only listens to fundamentalists when it comes to minority religions. The plural of "anecdote" isn't "data", of course, but it's curious how selective we get in who we listen to. I mentioned Fatima Houda-Pepin, but you could also listen to Leila Lesbet, just to pick one.

Ken Burch wrote:

You to realize that all Muslim women in Quebec and the ROC who wear burqas do solely of their own volition, right?  That it isn't possible, in North America, for anyone to force them to do so? 

Wow. Not even Mulcair tried that one.


Ken Burch wrote:

It can never be anti-oppression, however, to force a Muslim woman not to wear a burqa she freely chooses to wear, because if she wears that garment by choice it is no more oppressive than a nun who chooses to wear a habit once her order has made that garment voluntary...Would it be acceptable to have barred women from wearing "Stop Harper!" buttons between 2006 and 2015, or to bar Palestinian-Canadians from wearing a kaffiyeh or a "Free Palestine" bage out of solidarity with their oppressed countrypeople back home?

The question here is about banning symbols for state employees with coercive power (which is only one piece of the bill), not random people on the street. And in that context, it's about the state, not about forcibly "liberating" women. Cops and judges can't wear "Free Palestine" buttons or "Stop Harper" ones, either. When you're representing the state, there are limitations on what you can wear. (I do think targeting teachers – which wasn't suggested in the Bouchard-Taylor report – is an overreach.)

Pondering

Ken Burch wrote:

1) FGM-which is not actually a Muslim custom, btw, it's a barbaric pre-Muslim custom which survives in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries, and does so mainly because it serves the interest of patriarchy in those countries to have it survive, interests which are almost entirely political and cultural rather than religious.

It is immaterial. The point is feminists do not support things just because they are done by women. We can differ in what is in the best interests of women as a collective. 

Since the right wing decided to get into it they have priorized individual rights over collective rights as they do on every other topic. 

Most women have seen pictures of women in Mid-East countries draped in black tents with netted slits so that they have some chance of seeing where they are going. Most women are very well aware of how women in Canada are coerced by their husbands regardless of religion or lack thereof being part of the equation. Have you read Caitlan Coleman's about how she was treated? 

It is very easy for you to assume the default position that if women say they aren't being forced to do something it means that they are not, particularly in domestic situations when a woman is tied through children. Women submit for reasons that have nothing to do with free choice and assert that it is out of free choice. 

Ken Burch wrote:

3) Why does it matter if a Muslim woman wears a hijab-I just realized I need to go back and correct my usage there in previous posts and will now do so-as a political statement?  Would it be acceptable to have barred women from wearing "Stop Harper!" buttons between 2006 and 2015, or to bar Palestinian-Canadians from wearing a kaffiyeh or a "Free Palestine" bage out of solidarity with their oppressed countrypeople back home?

In a government position or a position of authority paid for out of the public purse, yes. It would be entirely appropriate to tell them to take off their Stop Harper buttons while on the job. 

Ken Burch wrote:
  I'm not sure what the point is about whether what I said in the first graph is general knowledge or not. 

Because if it isn't general knowledge then you can't judge people based on the assumption that they have much knowledge of various religions. Christianity is a huge part of the history of this nation so familiar to people in a way that other religions are not. 

Christianity for the most part has dropped it's more medieval forms of dress particularly in public spaces. Religious ostentatiousness can be considered aggressive, a means of people identifying each other for preferencial treatment, a means of defining community,  a promotion of religion. 

Unionist

***

pietro_bcc

I'm not a fan of Singh, but when I heard him speak about this on the radio I teared up. You can hear the pain in his voice and its one of the few times I heard him speak genuinely. He handled this in just the perfect way, I don't want him to cower to François Legault and shut up, he has something to say about this he should say it. Political cowardice never pays off, confront the issue head on.

pietro_bcc

You have to take into account Quebec's history to understand their position. The Quiet Revolution was against the Church as well as English business dominance. Getting the church out of government and education took a very long time. I believe it is bill 101 that finally dissolved Catholic school boards.

No, the religious school boards persisted long after Bill 101, they were abolished in 1998.

Unionist

pietro_bcc wrote:

You have to take into account Quebec's history to understand their position. The Quiet Revolution was against the Church as well as English business dominance. Getting the church out of government and education took a very long time. I believe it is bill 101 that finally dissolved Catholic school boards.

No, the religious school boards persisted long after Bill 101, they were abolished in 1998.

Correct - and the Protestant school boards as well of course. It required an amendment to the Constitution, which was granted without controversy because it affected only Québec. In the same year, Newfoundland and Labrador did likewise, requesting a constitutional amendment. It's kind of a shame that other provinces still have public schools run by minions of various churches and discriminating on the basis of religion (Ontario, Alberta, etc.).

This is why I asked whether Jagmeet Singh would be calling on Ontario (for example) to abolish their Catholic public schools. It's the right thing to do. But other than as a private citizen expressing an opinion, it seems out of line for the federal NDP to weigh in. I'd be happy if just the Ontario NDP had enough nerve and principle to weigh in. But I'm not holding my breath.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Pondering wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

1) FGM-which is not actually a Muslim custom, btw, it's a barbaric pre-Muslim custom which survives in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries, and does so mainly because it serves the interest of patriarchy in those countries to have it survive, interests which are almost entirely political and cultural rather than religious.

It is immaterial. The point is feminists do not support things just because they are done by women. We can differ in what is in the best interests of women as a collective. 

Since the right wing decided to get into it they have priorized individual rights over collective rights as they do on every other topic. 

Most women have seen pictures of women in Mid-East countries draped in black tents with netted slits so that they have some chance of seeing where they are going. Most women are very well aware of how women in Canada are coerced by their husbands regardless of religion or lack thereof being part of the equation. Have you read Caitlan Coleman's about how she was treated? 

It is very easy for you to assume the default position that if women say they aren't being forced to do something it means that they are not, particularly in domestic situations when a woman is tied through children. Women submit for reasons that have nothing to do with free choice and assert that it is out of free choice. 

Ken Burch wrote:

3) Why does it matter if a Muslim woman wears a hijab-I just realized I need to go back and correct my usage there in previous posts and will now do so-as a political statement?  Would it be acceptable to have barred women from wearing "Stop Harper!" buttons between 2006 and 2015, or to bar Palestinian-Canadians from wearing a kaffiyeh or a "Free Palestine" bage out of solidarity with their oppressed countrypeople back home?

In a government position or a position of authority paid for out of the public purse, yes. It would be entirely appropriate to tell them to take off their Stop Harper buttons while on the job. 

Ken Burch wrote:
  I'm not sure what the point is about whether what I said in the first graph is general knowledge or not. 

Because if it isn't general knowledge then you can't judge people based on the assumption that they have much knowledge of various religions. Christianity is a huge part of the history of this nation so familiar to people in a way that other religions are not. 

Christianity for the most part has dropped it's more medieval forms of dress particularly in public spaces. Religious ostentatiousness can be considered aggressive, a means of people identifying each other for preferencial treatment, a means of defining community,  a promotion of religion. 

Christianity has only really abolished any significant number of its repressive characteristics since Vatican II or so, so, as a much older faith tradition than Islam-and btw, the faith tradition I was raised in-I question whether Christianity can really claim much superiority or righteousness on this point.

I entirely support the Quiet Revolution, but that battle was long ago won in Quebec, so what does it have to do with the religious symbols question.  There's no possible chance of Quebec ever being subjected to a Muslim takeover.

I will cease to post in this thread at this stage because I never wanted to derail it, and don't want to derail it any further.

Pondering

pietro_bcc wrote:

I'm not a fan of Singh, but when I heard him speak about this on the radio I teared up. You can hear the pain in his voice and its one of the few times I heard him speak genuinely. He handled this in just the perfect way, I don't want him to cower to François Legault and shut up, he has something to say about this he should say it. Political cowardice never pays off, confront the issue head on.

You are right that was great and it is what drew my support to him after he won the leadership. I am glad he acknowledged Quebec's history and how that impacts their views today. 

Unionist

This August 31, 2017 article is worth re-reading, regardless of whether I (or you all) agree with all or some or none of it:

Why the NDP actually needs to have the niqab debate again

 

Pondering

Ken Burch wrote:
    

Christianity has only really abolished any significant number of its repressive characteristics since Vatican II or so, so, as a much older faith tradition than Islam-and btw, the faith tradition I was raised in-I question whether Christianity can really claim much superiority or righteousness on this point.

It can't, and I think all religions that propose an afterlife are wishful thinking. It isn't a matter of superiority it is a matter of familiarity. People are more comfortable with things that are familiar to them. 

Ken Burch wrote:
  I entirely support the Quiet Revolution, but that battle was long ago won in Quebec, so what does it have to do with the religious symbols question.  There's no possible chance of Quebec ever being subjected to a Muslim takeover. 

The Quiet Revolution was also about protecting and maintaining Quebec culture, not French culture, Quebec culture. The french face of Quebec wasn't just about language. 

Quebec has modernized and for the most part accepts the changes immigration has brought to Quebec. I am not arguing in favor of banning religious symbols. I am arguing in favor of understanding where the opposition is coming from and why. 

Singh acknowledged it. It is possible to be against something while understanding why others may not think the same way you do on a topic. 

 

Unionist

It's a shame this thread has turned into a discussion that has nothing to do with the thread title.

I asked robbie_dee this when he posted the video of Jagmeet Singh's remarks, but I'll throw it open to anyone that can help:

Unionist wrote:

And did he misspeak at 0:21 - when he said the legislation divides the population, "and divides the provinces that are bringing people together"? Maybe I misheard him, but I don't think so - he misspoke, no?

And I'd like to reiterate this. We're not talking about what's right and wrong. We're talking about what Jagmeet Singh should or should not say:

Unionist wrote:

Anyway, I don't believe he should comment on issues like this. What will he say if they ask him: "Should they take down the crucifix in the National Assembly?" Or, "should they get rid of Catholic public schools in Alberta, Ontario...?" 

robbie_dee

Unionist wrote:

And did he misspeak at 0:21 - when he said the legislation divides the population, "and divides the provinces that are bringing people together"? Maybe I misheard him, but I don't think so - he misspoke, no? 

Sorry unionist I must have missed this. I heard Jagmeet say “divides the province instead of bringing people together” but I agree the audio quality of the video clip was not the best.

 

jerrym

robbie_dee wrote:

Unionist wrote:

And did he misspeak at 0:21 - when he said the legislation divides the population, "and divides the provinces that are bringing people together"? Maybe I misheard him, but I don't think so - he misspoke, no? 

Sorry unionist I must have missed this. I heard Jagmeet say “divides the province instead of bringing people together” but I agree the audio quality of the video clip was not the best.

I listened to it six times and what I heard every time was 

"this law that is being proposed divides the population, that divides the province, instead of being people together"

with the commas representing slight pauses. Overall, this gives a somewhat different connotation to me. 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Only returning to say: Agreed that Singh is handling it properly. Over and out.

NorthReport

I like Sean's response in post #3

Unionist

jerrym wrote:

robbie_dee wrote:

Unionist wrote:

And did he misspeak at 0:21 - when he said the legislation divides the population, "and divides the provinces that are bringing people together"? Maybe I misheard him, but I don't think so - he misspoke, no? 

Sorry unionist I must have missed this. I heard Jagmeet say “divides the province instead of bringing people together” but I agree the audio quality of the video clip was not the best.

I listened to it six times and what I heard every time was 

"this law that is being proposed divides the population, that divides the province, instead of being people together"

with the commas representing slight pauses. Overall, this gives a somewhat different connotation to me. 

Ok... I listened to it yet again, and I now agree with robbie_dee and jerrym's version. I think what confused me is the way he pronounced "instead", which still sounds to me more like "instad", so that I heard "divides the province instead..." as "divides the provinces that..." Thanks, guys!

As for what Jagmeet said... now that Trudeau and Scheer have basically said the same thing, and Quebecers are polling 69-74% in favour of this toxic and xenophobic legislation - I guess the battleground is pretty well drawn. It's sad.

swallow swallow's picture

And it appears that the only Quebec party that will stand up for minority rights is the Quebec Liberal party. Now that's sad. 

Unionist

swallow wrote:

And it appears that the only Quebec party that will stand up for minority rights is the Quebec Liberal party. Now that's sad. 

I think you're being hasty, no? Québec Solidaire is revisiting its traditional policy of supporting Bouchard-Taylor (which was also supported by Tom Mulcair back in the day). Meanwhile, it has stated that the bill's implications for teachers in particular is discriminatory. But QS has placed this whole matter for decision on the agenda of its National Council, beginning tomorrow in Québec City. So let's wait a moment.

wage zombie

I know that Tom Mulcair was criticized for not being more supportive of the student protests while he was leader.  I could see how maybe people might think the federal NDP should not be weighing in on something in Quebec's jurisdiction.

Would Mulcair have been overstepping to talk about the student protests?  Or would being an MP from Quebec have given him more grounds to do so?  Or, was criticism against Mulcair in that case more about muzzling his MPs from speaking to it and less about expecting him to make statements himself?

I agree that Jagmeet answered the question well.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Open letter calls on QS to change stance on religious symbols ban

Québec solidaire should stand against discrimination enacted in the name of secularism, but it cannot do so while clinging to the outdated recommendations of the Bouchard-Taylor report

We are writing to you to express our concern about Québec solidaire’s position on religious symbols worn by public servants, which we believe needs to be revised urgently. It is essential that the party oppose any and all bans on religious symbols and reject the discriminatory politics behind them.

The Coalition Avenir du Québec’s proposed ban on religious symbols for public employees in positions of authority represents a grave threat to civil liberties and human rights. It also represents a dangerous deformation of the concept of secularism, where religious neutrality of the state is defined not by how public servants act but instead by what they wear. This policy feeds upon and reinforces the toxic climate of anti-Muslim racism that has developed in Quebec over the past decade. The fight against the CAQ’s religious symbols ban promises to be the first of many major battles during the next four years.

In the current political context, a strong and unequivocal response from QS is necessary. Unfortunately, the party is in a weak position to oppose the CAQ on this issue, hampered by its embrace of the Bouchard-Taylor “consensus.” CAQ leader François Legault and his ministers have presented their policy as a reasonable extension of the Bouchard-Taylor recommendations, claiming that they want to go only a little further. Clearly, the Bouchard-Taylor report’s fine distinction between “coercive authority” and “authority” more broadly defined offers no defence against demagogy.

More fundamentally, on the question of religious symbols there is no consensus — even among the report’s authors. Charles Taylor has repudiated the report’s call for a ban on religious symbols worn by judges, police officers and prison guards, and most jurists agree that any such blanket ban, whether Bouchard-Taylor or the CAQ’s “Bouchard-Taylor plus,” will be ruled unconstitutional.....

In solidarity,

Sibel Ataoğul (Mercier), Corey Balsam (Gouin), Nikolas Barry-Shaw (Mercier), Mary Ellen Davis (Mercier), Jesse Greener (Taschereau), Mohamed S. Kamel, Nora Loreto (Taschereau), Ehab Lotayef (Westmount–Saint-Louis), Rushdia Mehreen (Mont-Royal Outremont), Dru Oja Jay (Mercier), Fabienne Presentey (Sainte-Marie Saint-Jacques), Maria Worton (Westmount-St-Louis), Scott Weinstein (Westmount-St-Louis), Sameer Zuberi

Unionist

Yes, epaulo, there's a big discussion under way in QS, and it will come to a head this weekend at national council.

I agree with the authors. But I note that they don't mention anything about providing and receiving public services with one's face uncovered. I wonder where they stand on that? And why they didn't mention it? Because that rule, which was first tabled by the QC Liberals, still forms part of CAQ's bill. And it applies to all QC public service workers and all residents receiving a public service.

And what about Jagmeet Singh, Justin Trudeau, and Andrew Scheer?

I'll tell you why. Life is complicated, and people have their own opinions on all kinds of stuff. So I'm predicting that no party will touch that hot potato. 

But please recall that Tom Mulcair referred to his stand on allowing the niqab during citizenship ceremonies as a "defining moment[s] in my political career". 

What do you think?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

What do you think?

..unlike others i don't have a clear understanding of a solution to this complex issue. i take my lead from que on this and learn from the debate. i look forward to what comes from qs. i posted that piece in hopes that it could add to the discussion going on and not because i have some ready made answer.

robbie_dee

I'm not sure if this is the best thread to post this, but I welcome Michael Coren's thoughtful contribution. He lists six problems with the legislation in his article and I'd encourage reading the whole piece. I've excerpted two of his points:

Quote:

[2][W]hatever the proposal’s defenders may claim, their denial is shameless obfuscation. This debate has been going on for some years, and it always comes down and back to Muslim women. There is perhaps understandable concern about a full burqa, but such a covering concerns a tiny number of people. This, on the other hand, involves a sizeable number of Muslim women, often highly educated, who want to combine a lived faith with active citizenship and public duty.

They are now being told that they can’t. It’s also worth remembering that some Muslim women wear a hijab not because they’re specially devout but because they want to self-identify at a time of increasing anti-Muslim sentiment, ranging from the horrors of Christchurch and—lest we forget, Quebec City in 2017—to regular street insults. How darkly ironic that their statement against bigotry should be met with, well, bigotry.

The bill pays lip service to Jews and to a lesser extent Christians, but is about Islam. Mind you, Quebec Sikhs will certainly be harmed by it. It’s interesting that when Sikhs wanted to defend western civilization against Nazism, their turbans were welcomed, but the Quebec government thinks differently.

The strain and stain of Islamophobia runs deep in Canada, and arguably stronger in Quebec than elsewhere. A study last year from the Canadian Review of Sociology, for example, asked people to give various groups a rating between zero and 100 to indicate how they felt about them. Muslims did the worst in Quebec, at 56. The Montreal-based polling company CROP found in 2017 that 34 per cent of Quebecers believed that Muslim immigration should be halted, compared to 23 per cent in the rest of the country. That may be partly because Quebec, just like Ireland and to a lesser extent Spain, came out from under the shadow of Roman Catholic clericalism and reacted harshly to anything seen as overly religious. The backlash infects all faiths, but the one that seems to be most obvious today is Islam, and thus this draconian response.

***

[5][T]he Quebec left has got this legislation terribly wrong when so many of its adherents support it. Their enthusiasm for what they see as secularism is misplaced, and the argument that this somehow liberates women and is feministic is startlingly paradoxical. Of course there are women who are oppressed in Islam, just as there sometimes are in other faiths, but it is common for younger Muslim women to adopt the hijab not because of but in spite of paternal and patriarchal influence. It’s often a sign of independence and even defiance, and non-Muslim leftists have no more right than anybody else to impose their views. White saviours speak French too, you know. Politics isn’t linear, and it won’t be the first time that ostensible progressives have allowed populism to infect their ideology.

Michael Coren, 'Quebec's proposed secularism law is repugnant. Here are six reasons why." Macleans, March 29, 2019

Unionist

epaulo13 wrote:

What do you think?

..unlike others i don't have a clear understanding of a solution to this complex issue. i take my lead from que on this and learn from the debate. i look forward to what comes from qs. i posted that piece in hopes that it could add to the discussion going on and not because i have some ready made answer.

Lol, sorry - misunderstanding - I didn't mean to put you on the spot - I didn't mean "what do you think is the solution" or "what do you think about the face uncovered issue"! I meant: What do you think of the whole thing? For example - it was widely speculated that "Mulcair lost Québec" because of his stand on not forcing people to uncover their faces to take a citizenship oath. He stuck to that. 

I'm a member of QS, I have my views and have expressed them in the party and elsewhere. But this thread, for better or worse, is about Jagmeet Singh - a federal politician. Where does he stand on that? What should he say?

What do others think? Should Jagmeet Singh say, "I oppose requirements to uncover one's face!"?

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Unionist wrote:

epaulo13 wrote:

What do you think?

..unlike others i don't have a clear understanding of a solution to this complex issue. i take my lead from que on this and learn from the debate. i look forward to what comes from qs. i posted that piece in hopes that it could add to the discussion going on and not because i have some ready made answer.

Lol, sorry - misunderstanding - I didn't mean to put you on the spot - I didn't mean "what do you think is the solution" or "what do you think about the face uncovered issue"! I meant: What do you think of the whole thing? For example - it was widely speculated that "Mulcair lost Québec" because of his stand on not forcing people to uncover their faces to take a citizenship oath. He stuck to that. 

I'm a member of QS, I have my views and have expressed them in the party and elsewhere. But this thread, for better or worse, is about Jagmeet Singh - a federal politician. Where does he stand on that? What should he say?

What do others think? Should Jagmeet Singh say, "I oppose requirements to uncover one's face!"?

..i understand mulcair's position back then. i'm ok with that as a stand alone position. i'm not exactly sure though how much of it affected the election. nor am i sure how that position lines up with the qs position being debated or this comment from the piece i posted.

It also represents a dangerous deformation of the concept of secularism, where religious neutrality of the state is defined not by how public servants act but instead by what they wear.

..so my thoughts are for que folks to have the widest possible public debate on the issue that is very inclusive to arrive at some kind of concesus. at the very least for this to happen on the left. 

Pondering

robbie_dee wrote:

They are now being told that they can’t. It’s also worth remembering that some Muslim women wear a hijab not because they’re specially devout but because they want to self-identify at a time of increasing anti-Muslim sentiment, ranging from the horrors of Christchurch and—lest we forget, Quebec City in 2017—to regular street insults. How darkly ironic that their statement against bigotry should be met with, well, bigotry.

As I understand it, that is exactly what the law is against. As a government official in a position of authority the argument is that it is inappropriate to project an identity as anything other than a representative of government particularly a religious identity. 

The sole basis on which wearing it can be justified is devoutness.

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Unionist wrote:

What do others think? Should Jagmeet Singh say, "I oppose requirements to uncover one's face!"?

I think that Quebec MP's have the right as elected officials to state their views just as municipal leaders can and should speak out. Mulcair as an elected Quebec MP and public figure from both provincial and federal politics has every right to speak on any issue affecting the rights of his fellow citizens.

Singh as part of the minority affected by this type of legislation also has the moral authority to speak on an issue of fundamental rights affecting others of his faith in Quebec.

Sean in Ottawa

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Unionist wrote:

What do others think? Should Jagmeet Singh say, "I oppose requirements to uncover one's face!"?

I think that Quebec MP's have the right as elected officials to state their views just as municipal leaders can and should speak out. Mulcair as an elected Quebec MP and public figure from both provincial and federal politics has every right to speak on any issue affecting the rights of his fellow citizens.

Singh as part of the minority affected by this type of legislation also has the moral authority to speak on an issue of fundamental rights affecting others of his faith in Quebec.

I assume then that you support any federal politician as having a right to provide an opinion on any part of the country even an area that they do not come from. A leader seeks to represent all of Canada and opinions on regional questions are relevant.

I see no problem with this. Of course it needs be with respect for the region's own view and jurisdiction but certainly an opinion should actually be expected.

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