Pauline Marois: 2022 International Secularism Prize

2022-11-18, Link added 2022-11-19

2022 International Secularism Prize awarded to Madame Pauline Marois, former Premier of Quebec.

Sommaire en français Prix international de la laïcité 2022, décerné à Mme Pauline Marois, ancienne première ministre du Québec.

Pauline Marois, Quebec’s first woman premier (2012-2014) has just been honoured by the Comité Laïcité République (CLR) in Paris who have awarded her the Prix international de la laïcité (International Secularism Prize) for her contribution to secularism—for the deconfessionalization of Quebec schools and for the Charter of Secularism which her government proposed in 2013. Although that government was defeated in 2014, before the Charter could be adopted, it was a major precursor, paving the way for Bill 21, adopted five years later by the CAQ government.

Madame Marois has often been the target of vicious hatred from both unscrupulous antisecularists and anti-Québécois ethnic bigots, two groups which overlap greatly and are currently allied in vilifying Bill 21. In fact, Mme Marois was the target of an assassination attempt during a victory celebration, the very evening of her election victory on September 4th 2012. Although unsuccessful in hitting his presumed target, because his weapon jammed, the would-be assassin nevertheless did kill one person, a technician, and seriously wounded another.

It is indeed gratifying that Pauline Marois’ major contributions to the cause of secularism have now been recognized internationally.


Here are a few excerpts from Madame Marois’ acceptance speech:

It took until the end of the 1990s, when I was Minister of Education, to conclude delicate negotiations with religious authorities, the English-speaking community and the federal government in order to remove the constitutional obstacle which prevented the creation of French and English linguistic school boards.


The federal State dominated by English Canada claims to be postcolonial, postnational and multicultural. Paradoxically, it considers that the only acceptable referents in terms of rights and freedoms are its own. Thus, for the Canadian government and the English-language media, the decisions of the European Court of Justice with regard to the wearing of religious symbols are totally discriminatory.


I will not force you to listen to the religious edicts, each one more misogynistic than the previous, but it seems undeniable to me that people on the left who have abandoned the defense of secularism have lost part of their soul along the way.

Let us be clear, secularism does not in itself guarantee the liberation and equality of women, but it is an essential ingredient.


By clearly separating knowledge from beliefs, secularism promotes a spirit of tolerance. In a secular and democratic state, everyone is free as regards their faith, but the rules that define the art of living together should not be determined by religious precepts.


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