Where does the NDP stand on religious symbols worn by judges and police?

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Unionist
Where does the NDP stand on religious symbols worn by judges and police?

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Unionist

The federal NDP's stand has seemed clear since the Bouchard-Taylor Commission issued its recommendations. The party's position has been reiterated in the wake of the debate on the PQ's charter of so-called "values". [url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/federal-multicultural-minis... is one of many examples:

Quote:

[NDP spokesperson George] Smith said the NDP will continue to support the recommendations of the Bouchard-Taylor commission.

“We remain very proud of the constructive role we played,” he said.

The commission’s final report rejected a general prohibition on wearing religious signs for government employees. However, it did indicate that such a step may be required of some positions, such as judges, Crown prosecutors, police officers and the president of the National Assembly “in order to preserve the appearance of impartiality.”

Here's [url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/quebec-religious-symbols-ban-doubtful-to... example[/url], directly from the party leader:

Quote:
Mulcair made the NDP's presentation to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, which conducted public hearings in 2007 on the impact of religious accommodation on Quebec's identity and values. The commission was run by sociologist Gérard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor. He says the NDP agree with the recommendations of that report and will stand up against any proposal contrary to it.

[my emphasis]

Does this reflect the position of the NDP? If it does (as it seems to), should it be changed?

 

Unionist

Just for reference purposes, here is the Bouchard-Taylor recommendation I'm referring to:

Quote:
The Co-Chairs recommend that:

[...] with regard to the wearing by government employees of religious signs:

• judges, Crown prosecutors, police officers, prison guards and the president and vice-president of the
National Assembly of Québec be prohibited from doing so;

• teachers, public servants, health professionals and all other government employees be authorized to do so;

You can find it on page 271 of the [url=http://www.accommodements-quebec.ca/documentation/rapports/rapport-final... report[/url]. You can also refer to the discussion leading to this conclusion, found on pages 149-151.

Unionist

SDM, we may have cross-posted. I since added the actual recommendation of Bouchard-Taylor. I'll repeat it and appreciate your comment:

Quote:
The Co-Chairs recommend that:

[...] with regard to the wearing by government employees of religious signs:

judges, Crown prosecutors, police officers, prison guards and the president and vice-president of the National Assembly of Québec be prohibited from doing so;

• teachers, public servants, health professionals and all other government employees be authorized to do so;

It's not maybe, or might be, or possibly, or conceivably. They recommended a ban - just as they recommended no ban on teachers, public servants, and others. And the NDP continues to maintain that they support these recommendations.

I take it that you don't agree with the above-cited recommendation. I don't either. I have conveyed my views to Québec solidaire, because they're the party I support provincially.

Should the NDP be asked to re-think its support for Bouchard-Taylor?

 

socialdemocrati...

I'm not personally against religious symbols of most kinds. I'd be sympathetic to Quebecois efforts to preserve their culture, but I think they can leave religion out of it, since it's going to come down to how they preserve the French language (itself a complicated policy issue).

I also think that the "appearance of impartiality" is a stupid reason to ban religious symbols, as if the color of their skin or their gender might also make me wonder if they can be trusted to be impartial. (Answer: they can be trusted. Quit assuming that only white males are objective enough to not favor people who look like them.)

(Edit: I added some stuff that doesn't make sense, now that I've been able to refer to the actual report.)

I think the main thing is that the NDP isn't proposing anything. They're vowing to "stand up against any proposal contrary to it." So it's really up to the provinces to make proposals, and the feds (under the NDP) would judge whether it's in compliance, and only make waves if it did anything contrary.

Just your standard federal-provincial cop-out.

lagatta

I do think secularism is EXTREMELY important, and want to break with Canada's "God" stuff in the Constitution. No funding for religious schools either, though we sure aren't going to win that one this year.

I certainly don't agree with banning religous symbols or dress among most civil servants or parapublic workers. Undecided about the judges and prison guards thing, though in general I support freedom of choice of dress - I'm only concerned about possible impacts about people facing the long arm of the law.

quizzical

i don't get it??? this happened almost 7 years ago???? and it's Quebec's business not the rest of us.

i read the article and agree with the NDP position on it. only a little bit is off kilter to me and would like more of a firm line if i'm being asked for an opinion.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

I'd be sympathetic to Quebecois efforts to preserve their culture, but I think they can leave religion out of it, since it's going to come down to how they preserve the French language (itself a complicated policy issue).

 

1. Isn't religion (especially Roman Catholicism)  a long historic part of Quebecois history? (not of much relevance today I admit)

2. I think the the First Nations of Quebec need to be carefully included in this debate as they predate both the French and English.

quizzical

my view on this is informed by my FN heritage and the realization everyone across canada is ignoring the real elephant in the room immigration and accomodation granting wise.

Brachina

I don't support barring Police Officers and Judges from wearing religious stuff. While the NDP may support the Taylor commission as a whole it doesn't mean it has to agree with that particular part. But if it does I disagree with it.

Thankfully it would never survive a court challenge. And yes I know about the court case that was brought up, that was a health and safety issue, this is not.

Brachina

quizzical wrote:

my view on this is informed by my FN heritage and the realization everyone across canada is ignoring the real elephant in the room immigration and accomodation granting wise.

 

 I don't understand are you opposed to immigration? Or do you mean something else.

Unionist

quizzical wrote:

i don't get it??? this happened almost 7 years ago???? and it's Quebec's business not the rest of us.

August 2013. That's when Mulcair and his spokesperson told the media that they supported the recommendations of Bouchard-Taylor, and that they'd fight against anything which went against those recommendations.

One of those recommendations is that judges, police, prison guards, and crown prosecutors be prohibited from wearing religious symbols.

I opened this thread to discuss the NDP - its position, what it is, whether we agree or not. Does it apply only to Québec? If so, how could it? Etc.

August 2013.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The NDP's position on this issue is consistant with its commitment to intercultural integration.  As I said last spring when that comncept was introduced from the floor as a defining belief of NDP members that it would be in conflict with the majority of BC voters views on multiculturalism.

I still think that the Liberals may very well go after the NDP on this issue as they try to win suburban ridings in all of Canada's major cities.  Many progressive people in my part of the world, myself included, are proud that we accomodate Sikh's religious beliefs including those in the RCMP.

Will the NDP be calling for the RCMP to change its position on turbans being worn by its officers?

http://rabble.ca/babble/alberta-and-british-columbia/bc-okays-kirpan-cou...

quizzical

etd to say responding to brac....in first part

yep i'm opposed. i don't know any FN's or who are of FN heritage for immigration. yep there could be some. i just don't know any. unless you're talking wide open world borders. different story then.

unionist...i don't believe in immigration accomodation, religious or anti-religious symbols when comes to public secular space and service provision. zero tolerance really.

the cross shoulda been taken out of the legislative bldg.

socialdemocrati...

Unionist wrote:
I take it that you don't agree with the above-cited recommendation. I don't either. I have conveyed my views to Québec solidaire, because they're the party I support provincially.

Should the NDP be asked to re-think its support for Bouchard-Taylor?

Yeah, we are both against that part of the recommendation. We are in agreement there.

Where we disagree, I think, is whether the word "support" sufficiently describes the NDP's position.

There's often these huge flame wars about what Mulcair is doing. But if you want to understand Mulcair, most of his time his position is something like this:

"My position is the party's position. Check the website from 2011 for the NDP's platform. If another MP said something that isn't on the platform, ignore it, because that's not what the party agreed upon. If the issue you're asking me about is too narrow to appear in that platform, then my position is that we should start from the constitution / the UN / the government report from a few years ago. If that report was from too long ago, then I need to wait and see until there's a new report."

That's pretty much how he handles everything, from marijuana, to Syria, to trade deals, to the Quebec Charter.

And that changed the minute the PQ put out an actual proposal, legislating a broad attack on religious minorities. Then Mulcair called it a "confirmation of our worst fears", and came out ferociously against it.

Again, we should note that the NDP has NOT been spending the past 6 years pushing to implement the 2007 Bouchard-Taylor report. The most telling part is that the NDP said that they would stand against any proposal that goes against the report. (An important difference.) So they waited for the PQ to make a proposal, and came out against it.

At which point, I'm no longer asking if the NDP has the right policy. I'm asking, does the NDP have the right procedure?

Mulcair keeps trying to score points for prudence and caution. And the media occasionally awards him a point. Mulcair takes a wait-and-see approach, and then points out some kind of inconsistency when he finally sees it, and a few journalists acknowledge that he was very "deliberative".

But just as much, people are able to score points on Mulcair during the "wait-and-see" phase. He refused to stand up for religious minorities! No, he refused to stand up for the Quebeckers he represents! WAIT, he refused to take a stand at all, because he's A CONNIVING POLITICIAN!

(Which isn't fair to Mulcair. He doubted the PQ would do what they did because of the constitution, and when they finally did, he came out against it, because of the constitution. Proceduralists LOVE the constitution.)

I've begrudgingly come to accept (or even respect) some level of proceduralism and legalism. Procedural rules are an annoying speed bump when I'm fighting for progress. But thank God we have procedural rules and guidelines when the right wing is in power, and they're trying to do things like trample on minority rights. If you don't believe that procedure is important, then you might not care that the Conservatives haven't tabled any major legislation, instead cramming most of their work into 400 page documents called a "budget". Note how the NDP keeps fighting to split up the budget for better debates, more than they criticize the bullshit that Conservatives cram into their "budgets".

The problem with proceduralism is it might actually be terrible politics. There's no clarity to your supporters, let alone swing voters. You might get a point or two for caution. But your opponents get to say they got to the "right answer" before you did. And your opponents get to paint you as timid, calculating, even pandering while all you're trying to do is be thoughtful and diligent. And in the absence of a clear proposal, your opponents get to put words in your mouth. "When people asked Mulcair to stand up for (something that everyone here agrees with), he refused. That's because he agrees with (something stupid that nobody here agrees with)."

The Quebec Charter issue is dead, and the NDP's position was fine. But the broader procedural issue is more vexing.

Brachina

I think Mulcair's tactics are shifting, becoming more aggressive for lack of a better word, less reactive and cautious. We'll see where this goes

Unionist

Your analysis of "proceduralism" was interesting. But I'm more concerned about the stands that the NDP takes on vital questions than in Tom Mulcair's style and approach. That's why I opened this thread.

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

The Quebec Charter issue is dead, and the NDP's position was fine.

I have no idea what either part of this compound sentence means.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that some legislation will be adopted (though whether it's under the PQ or the Liberals - or whether it's before or after an election - is tough to say at the moment). The federal NDP has plunged in head-first. It condemned the PQ's project (even though no one has seen the text yet, because the project will change before it's drafted). It made a bizarre (in my view) and unprecedented promise to finance individual challenges. And for some reason I don't fully understand, it affirmed its support for the Bouchard-Taylor recommendations - which includes a ban on religious garb for judges, police, etc.

All this from a party which muzzle its own caucus throughout the months-long student strike - including the draconian anti-Charter-freedom laws enacted by the Charest Liberals and several municipalities including Montréal and Québec. Not a single solitary word from the NDP.

So... what is the NDP doing? And where does it (and should it) stand on this issue? After reading your last post, sdm, I haven't heard a clear opinion yet.

 

socialdemocrati...

The PQ's proposal is to ban all public workers from wearing religious symbols. And the NDP came out against the PQ's proposal. Because it violates the Federal Constitution. That's it.

The PQ will either hang onto power long enough to implement their proposal, or they'll get tossed. Either way, there's nothing else to say.

I feel confident in predicting that the NDP won't say very much else about the topic except to repeat what they've already said. At least, not until there's a new government, or the PQ reverses its position.

Unionist

Does the NDP support a ban on religious garb for judges and cops in Québec - but not in the rest of Canada?

That's what [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/qu%C3%A9bec/pqs-charter-values?page=1#comment-14... babbler[/url] seems to be saying. I'm hoping the conversation about the NDP's stand can continue here rather than there.

 

socialdemocrati...

Are you kidding me? A Federal Party proposing a law that only applies in one province? Is that even legal?

The most honest and accurate thing I can say about the NDP's position is what I've been trying to repeat over and over: that they're focused on the process (the PQ's proposal vs. the Bouchard-Taylor report vs. the constitution), rather than making any stance of their own. They're putting the ball 100% in the PQ's court. They're staying out of provincial politics with their own proposals, and only commenting when the PQ makes a proposal of their own.

And I've already pointed out the benefits and dangers of that.

Unionist

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

Are you kidding me? A Federal Party proposing a law that only applies in one province? Is that even legal?

Well, yeah, it's legal. And it's been done. Like [url=http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode... C-315[/url], designed to treat federal enterprises in Québec in the same way as all others subject to Bill 101. Although it was presented by Robert Aubin as a private member's bill, it was clearly and publicly promoted [url=http://www.ndp.ca/news/use-french-work-time-to-take-action-now]by the NDP as a whole[/url].

So the question here is: Is that what Tom Mulcair and the party are saying about judges and cops being barred from wearing religious garb - that it should apply in Québec only? or everywhere? or nowhere?

I'm really not clear how Mulcair's support for Bouchard-Taylor can be "interpreted" as meaning, well, no, he only supports some parts...

I suggest if no one really cares what the NDP's position is on this (although the NDP has deliberately decided to wade into that debate), then why the big interest in what Québec is doing?

 

socialdemocrati...

A bill trying to harmonize laws across all provinces is different.

Bacchus

So no Sikh cops or judges then?

Unionist

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

A bill trying to harmonize laws across all provinces is different.

No idea what you mean by that. There is no issue - either in the discussion on religious symbols, nor in the case of Bill C-315 - of harmonizing any laws across all provinces.

Bill C-315 addressed the issue that workers in federal enterprises in Québec don't have the same rights as other workers - namely, to work in French, to communicate with their employer in French, etc. This is a progressive and necessary piece of legislation, which was killed by the Conservative majority. It applied only to Québec. There is in fact no law I'm aware of requiring the use of French, or English for that matter, in enterprises in any other province - but I could be wrong on that.

In the other thread, one babbler suggested that in the distinct situation of Québec, there might be an argument for banning religious garb for persons in authority (judges etc.) which wouldn't apply elsewhere - and hence that the NDP might be justified in having a different position for Québec.

As a general proposition, I believe that's absolutely correct. Indeed, it conforms with the NDP's view of asymmetrical federalism as expressed in the Sherbrooke Declaration.

What I think deserves clarification is whether, in fact, that is what the NDP is saying in this instance (of religious items).

 

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

You know, that's a good question. Do the stand on top of them, at the bottom of them, at the front of them, at the back of them, or off to the side with one foot on them?

socialdemocrati...

Do we even have to re-state that this is about asymmetrical federalism? I thought that was obvious. But the key word being federalism. How the Federal government handles Quebec's place in the Federation is different from, say, commenting on every possible law that comes out of Quebec, or commenting on what every other province should do. The Quebec Charter directly and deliberately responds to the Federal CANADIAN Charter, so you wouldn't be surprised to hear comments about it from every federal party.

But in the absence of any statement by the province of Quebec, the NDP isn't proposing anything themselves. How could they? It's not the job of the Federal government to shove laws down the province's throats. At most, it's to legislate schemes and standards that apply across provinces, which is not what they're doing here. (And definitely beyond the scope of the entire issue, let alone what the Bouchard-Taylor commission talks about.)

You keep on asking what the NDP's position is here, but the answer is that there isn't one. They're merely responding to a proposal by a provincial government, using a combination of the Charter of Rights and the Bouchard-Taylor report as the standard that any proposal would have to meet. Until the province of Quebec makes a new proposal, you're highly unlikely to hear any substantial change in the NDP's message. And anyone trying to tell you about what the NDP is proposing -- as a supporter or a detractor -- is speculating. I repeat: there is no Federal NDP proposition. Only procedural limits on provincial propositions.

The interesting question to ask is what the NDP would do if the PQ said "fine, we'll allow public sector workers to wear religious symbols, but we're going to ban them for judges and police officers." What would the Federal NDP do? Probably stand up for the Charter section 2. But not before they have a panic attack.

Unionist

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

You keep on asking what the NDP's position is here, but the answer is that there isn't one.

I'll tell you what I "keep asking", if you're interested in actually engaging in the substantive conversation:

Unionist, in the opening post wrote:
Does this reflect the position of the NDP? If it does (as it seems to), should it be changed?

Unionist, in post #4 wrote:
Should the NDP be asked to re-think its support for Bouchard-Taylor?

I've given my view on this. Brachina has said he doesn't agree with the Bouchard-Taylor recommendation, but he's not convinced that the NDP really supports that portion either.

Haven't heard from you.

sdm wrote:
The interesting question to ask is what the NDP would do if the PQ said "fine, we'll allow public sector workers to wear religious symbols, but we're going to ban them for judges and police officers." What would the Federal NDP do? Probably stand up for the Charter section 2. But not before they have a panic attack.

Your view? Keep in mind that if the PQ says that, they will be agreeing with the Liberals, CAQ, and Québec solidaire on that point, as well as Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard.

 

Unionist

*bump*

So where does the federal NDP stand on this question? Anyone know? Mulcair supported Bouchard Taylor's recommended ban (see above). Was he speaking for the party?

 

cco

Speaking for no one but myself: I support the Bouchard-Taylor recommendations (except for the president and vice-president of the National Assembly, because I believe the people's right to elect whomever they want supersedes nearly everything else in a democracy).

As far as my current observations about the federal party, having been a delegate in Ottawa in February, we appear to believe that if we close our eyes and hum loudly, the issue will go away.