Whether it’s to divert attention away from various political or (as some have suggested) economic problems, the Parti Québécois government in Quebec has proposed a “Charter of Values” that clearly discriminates against minorities and immigrants.
This initiative would ban any religious clothing or the wearing of religious icons in a provincial government workplace. Unfortunately, this policy seems to have struck a chord amongst the baser elements of Quebec society. This is not at all consistent with Canadian values. Indeed, to quote then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien from 2003: “It’s why we have constitutions — to protect the rights of the minority. It’s why we have the Charter of Rights.”
I would suggest there is a case to be made here that the PQ government is conveniently disregarding history in this country.
The French in Canada were defeated in a decisive military action in Quebec over 200 years ago. Despite this victory on the battlefields, and consistent with Canada’s long-standing traditions of tolerance and multiculturalism, the French in Canada have been allowed to keep and promote their language and culture. Indeed they have even been given “founding culture” status!
The PQ government in Quebec and Premier Pauline Marois would do well to reflect on this perspective and extend to present-day minorities a small level of the tolerance that has been shown to French Québécois over the last 200-plus years.