Challenges for Canadian Secularists

2016-09-20, updated 2016-09-21

A (non-exhaustive) list of seven challenges which Canadian secularists must meet in order to promote a state which is truly independent of religious interference.

Sommaire en français

Une liste (non exhaustive) de sept défis que les partisans de la laïcité doivent relever afin de prôner un État véritablement indépendant et libre d’ingérence religieuse. Ces défis sont :

  • Prôner l’abolition de la monarchie
  • Abandonner le multiculturalisme (communautarisme)
  • S’opposer à tous les intégrismes, y compris l’islamique, et pas seulement le chrétien
  • Reconnaître que certains codes vestimentaires sont nécessaires pour la laïcité
  • Respecter le choix du Québec en matière de laïcité
  • Laisser tomber votre puéril engouement pour Saint Justin Trudeau
  • Rejeter l’influence de la gauche régressive



The monarchy is a religious institution, incompatible with fundamental human rights.

The fact that Canada’s head of state must be of a particular religion is bad enough, but it is only a symptom of the underlying problem: the monarchy is essentially a religious institution, in which the king or queen rules by “divine right,” i.e. a mandate from an imaginary divinity. The fact that Canada’s monarchy is constitutional does not change that situation; it simply makes the monarchy non-absolute. Similarly, so-called “moderate” Christian churches avoid some of the worst excesses of fundamentalist churches, but they are still Christian.

Furthermore, hereditary transmission of the title of head of state violates the principle of equality which is fundamental to human rights and secularism. Finally, the bizarre circumstance that Canada’s monarch is a foreigner—and the head of state of a foreign country—tends to favour those whose ethnic background is from that country and to undervalue all others.


Multiculturalism = communitarianism = cultural relativism = ethno-religious determinism = religious essentialism = soft racism = an electoral strategy of unscrupulous politicians

I have criticized multiculturalism in previous blogs and articles and many other writers have pointed out the flaws in this nice-sounding but retrograde concept. In particular the Canadian Multiculturalism Act must be repealed or at least modified substantively so that it can no longer be used to favour the more religious (including fundamentalists and worse) over the less religious and the non-religious.


Christianity is not the only crappy religion. Islam is just as dangerous—and currently it is arguably even worse (which does not imply that we can stop criticizing Christianity for now). Sikh, Hindu, Judaic and other fundamentalisms are also dangerous.

In particular, we must resist the Islamist ploy, so commonly used to manipulate well-meaning fools, of playing the victim, of exaggerating the seriousness of anti-Muslim acts. In Canada, hate crime statistics indicate that the most frequent targets of such acts continue to be blacks and Jews.

Although is it obviously unfair to blame all Muslims for the actions of Islamist terrorism, all Muslims, including so-called moderates, nevertheless have a responsibility to confront the reality of that terrorism—i.e. the fact that the coran and other core documents of Muslim tradition contain much hate propaganda and many calls for deadly violence—and to distance themselves definitively from it. The fact that the torah and the bible also contain similar content does not mitigate Muslims’ responsibility; it simply means that Christians and Jews also have responsibilities.

As the journalist Joseph Facal puts it, not all Muslims are guilty but all are responsible. Adopting the posture of a victim is a strategy for shirking those responsibilities. (“enfermement dans une posture victimaire qui conduit à se défiler devant ses propres responsabilités.”)


Or do you want police and judges to wear collanders and niqabs?

It is unacceptable for public servants—especially those with coercive power such as police, judges and prison guards—to display blatant symbols of religious or political affiliation while on duty. To allow such aberrant behaviour has nothing to do with “rights”—rather it amounts to granting a privilege to the wearers of such symbols and to their religion or ideology, a privilege which compromises everyone else’s freedom of conscience.

Face-coverings are even worse, as they are impediments to security and communication, among other issues. They should be forbidden for all users of public services, not just state employees on duty.


The Québécois have every right to choose laïcité without being vilified for it.

During the debate over Quebec’s proposed Charter of Secularism in 2013-2014, opposition to the Charter from Canada outside Quebec was ferocious and based largely on ethnic bigotry against Quebeckers, bigotry which is often called “racism” (although inaccurate here, because French-speaking Québécois constitute a nation, not a “race”). When the PQ goverment was defeated in the provincial election of April 2014 and the Charter thus died, the defeat was because voters rejected the PQ’s sovereignty option, not secularism. Polls show that secularism remains very popular among Quebeckers, and their secularism is more in line with the modern republican tradition of laïcité which is obviously superior to the lame 17th-century Lockean pseudo-secular tradition which is dominant in English-speaking countries and remains so, largely as a result of anglo-ethnocentrism.

(This tension was also very evident during the recent burkini controversy. More on that in a future blog.)


Justin Trudeau is as anti-secular and as shallow as Pope Franky. Like the pope, his strength is in dishonest self-marketing.

Trudeau opportunistically courts the votes of various religious communities by flirting with very dubious Islamists (with ideological affinities to the Muslim Brotherhood) and with fundamentalist Sikhs.

Trudeau insults gays and women by marching in gay parades and claiming to be a feminist while continuing to be very chummy with religious fanatics who practice gender segregation and oppose gay rights and gender equality.

Trudeau slanders secularists by lumping us all in the same category as a bigoted con-artist like Donald Trump.

To criticize Trudeau does not imply support for his adversaries and enemies. That would be falling into the trap of what I call the “binary fallacy” and which Wikipedia calls “False dilemma”.


Western women who wear the veil contribute to the subservience of women elsewhere in the world for whom wearing the veil is an obligation.

The regressive left uses specious accusations of “intolerance,” “xenophobia,” “islamophobia,” etc. to deflect or silence legitimate criticism of religions and multiculturalism.

Secularists must explicitly reject the odious influence of the regressive left which Wikipedia describes as “a section of left-wing politics which is accused of paradoxically holding reactionary views due to tolerance of illiberal principles and ideologies (such as extremist Islamism) for the sake of multiculturalism and cultural relativism.” This accusation is certainly valid in light of the behaviour of many leftist and centrist Canadian politicians, the most noteworthy being Justin Trudeau who, for electoral advantage, regularly panders to various religious communities (such as Islamist and Sikh) which tend to be of the fundamentalist variety.

It is shameful how Trudeau and his ilk present the wearing of the Islamic veil as some sort of victory for women’s rights when in reality it is precisely the opposite. Remember the admonition of Mona Eltahawy, author of “Headscarves and Hymens”: western women who wear the veil contribute to the subservience of women elsewhere in the world for whom wearing the veil is an obligation.

Next blog: False Memes from the Burkini Wars

3 thoughts on “Challenges for Canadian Secularists”

  1. Alternately, here are some challenges we must rise to live in a free and just society, secularists included.
    1. Electoral reform. A system that builds coalitions of minority opinions is better than winner-take-all, especially when you are part of an unpopular minority, as we irreligious are. I don’t particularly like the monarchy, but it is mostly and irrelevance and we shouldn’t spend any energy on it.
    2. Promote multiple cultures in terms of multilingualism. Multilingualism is the best kind of multiculturalism. Languages are flexible and changeable. Skin colour is immutable, sexuality too personal, and different religions too irreconcilable. The way we should relate to diversity is through cultural practices that can be learned as shared, like dance, art, food, and language. This is better than the “multiculturalism has failed” school, which says that because diversity is difficult, we should just impose uniformity of thought and culture from the top down. Uh, no.
    3. Oppose any anti-democratic strains of Islamism without giving cover to anti-Muslim extremists or driving Muslim moderates into the arms of radicals. This is just basic “hearts and minds” strategy.
    4. Oppose (state-imposed) dress codes, but be indifferent to dress codes imposed by private groups civil society. Otherwise do we have to ban Hutterites and Amish from wearing suspenders because they are a symbol of oppression? No. I don’t care if a judge wears a crucifix or a #metoo t-shirt under her robes, as long as I get a fair trial. We could ban all wearers of ideologically-inspired garb from the bench, but then the pool of jurists would only be religiously indifferent European types: people like me, which is great for me, but not good for the course of justice.
    5. Respect voters’ RIGHT to make choices, even if they aren’t laïcité. Quebeckers fell out of love with Rome in the 1960s and that’s great. But their unique situation cannot be translated to other polities. Democracy is based on what the voters want. Now obviously voters can want stupid or bad things (see Trump, Donald), and we can oppose those choices but we cannot question the voters’ right to make the choice in the first place.
    7. Admit that irreligious people do not agree on much. The irreligious include everyone from the alt-right to the intersectionalist left. So let’s limit our “purity tests” and stick to what we can agree on: opposing religious takeover of the state. Beyond that, let’s agree to disagree. Mr Rand probably disagreed with all of my other 6 points, which just goes to prove that being irreligious doesn’t inevitably lead to ANY political opinion whatsoever.

    1. 1. Electoral reform, sure. But the monarchy must be dumped.

      2. Multilingualism? Why? Not even bilingualism is viable here in Canada, at least not outside Quebec and New Brunswick. Outside those two provinces, English dominates and French is releguated to tiny pockets.

      Your mention of the “multiculturalism has failed” school is just a straw-man argument. I do not say it has failed. I say rather that multiculturalism is essentially a bad idea from the get-go because it is basically cultural relativism, and it is incompatible with secularism. I have explained all this in various blogs and do not wish to repeat it all here.

      3. One good way to oppose Islamism (all strains of which are anti-democratic, indeed totalitarian) is to recognize that the promotion of the veil is a propaganda tool which must be opposed by refusing all privileges and accommodations to Islam or any other religion. Banning religious symbols worn by public servants on duty is reasonable and necessary. The refusal to ban anything, anywhere is dogmatic and irrational. If motorcyclists can be forced to wear helmets, then soldiers and police can be obliged to wear standard uniforms, regardless of their religion. Wearing a crucifix “under her robes” is not even relevant to the discussion. The point is to ban OBVIOUS VISIBLE symbols like a large crucifix (or other partisan symbol) ON TOP OF the robes.

      4. You write “Oppose (state-imposed) dress codes, but be indifferent to dress codes imposed by private groups civil society.” Clearly you are strongly influenced by right-wing extreme libertarianism which refuses any government regulations, even gun control. This is a paranoid mentality where the state is seen as always evil and individualism as always wonderful. But reality is not so simplistic.

      5. You want to “Respect voters’ RIGHT to make choices” ?? Great, well in Quebec the majority of voters want secularism of the republican kind. The Charter promoted by the PQ in 2013-2014 was very popular. It was NOT the reason for the PQ’s election loss. But Quebeckers, and anyone else who supports laïcité is regularly slandered in the mainstream media and by many politicians. Trudeau in particular once said publicly that those who supported the PQ Charter were just like Trump! This is defamatory. Trudeau offers NO RESPECT WHATSOEVER to voters who prefer secularism, while constantly pandering to fundamentalist Islamists and Sikhs.

      Basically your “arguments” are just unthinking conformism to the dominant mentality which is totally complacent toward religions.

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