The Patriots of Lower Canada

An Important Event in the History of Secularism in North America

2022-04-04

The 1838 Declaration of Independence of Lower Canada is a major milestone in the history of secularism.

Sommaire en français La Déclaration d’indépendance du Bas-Canada de 1838 est un jalon majeur dans l’histoire de la laïcité.


During the period between the British conquest of New France in 1763 (Treaty of Paris) and the formation (“Confederation”) of the Dominion of Canada composed of four provinces, the conquered territory went through several administrative changes:

  • 1763-1791: The former New France became a British colony named Province of Quebec.
  • 1791-1841: The Province of Quebec was divided into Upper Canada and Lower Canada, corresponding roughly to the southern parts of modern Ontario and Quebec respectively.
  • 1841-1867: Upper and Lower Canada were merged into a single colony called Province of Canada

In 1837-1838 an anti-colonial rebellion occurred in Lower Canada (now Quebec) which also inspired a similar but smaller rebellion in Upper Canada (now Ontario). The rebellion in Lower Canada was republican and secular in its aims. A major document of that rebellion is the 1838 Declaration of Independence of Lower Canada or Déclaration d’indépendance du Bas-Canada. It was authored by Robert Nelson, an Anglophone born in Lower Canada. It declares:

“That any union between Church and State is hereby declared to be dissolved, and every person shall have the right to exercise freely such religion or belief as his conscience dictates.”

(« Que toute union entre l’Église et l’État est par la présente déclarée être dissoute, et toute personne aura le droit d’exercer librement telle religion ou croyance qui lui sera dictée par sa conscience. »)

The Declaration also granted equal rights to native peoples.

Of course the Declaration never came into effect, because the rebels were no match for British imperial power and the rebellion was crushed. Several rebels were hanged at the Pied-du-Courant prison in Montreal. Many were exiled. The famous song Un Canadien errant by Antoine Gérin-Lajoie was inspired by the sight of a ship sending 141 condemned men into exil in Australia:

“A wandering Canadien, banished from his homeland, wept as he roamed foreign lands…”

(« Un Canadien errant, banni de ses foyers, parcourait en pleurant des pays étrangers.… »)

The 1841 merger of Upper and Lower Canada into a single colony was done on the recommendation of Lord Durham who was mandated by the British authorities to investigate the causes of rebellion. He also recommended accelerating British immigration. The goal was to anglicize French-speaking Lower Canadians by marginalizing them in a sea of English-speakers. (Today, such a strategy would probably be called cultural genocide.)

The Lower Canada rebels were called “Patriotes” and they are celebrated by a statutory holiday “Journée nationale des Patriotes” in late May. (It’s the queen’s birthday in Canada outside Quebec.) This year 2022 it is on May 23rd. As secularists, we remember their fight for freedom, democracy and secularism.

I have also written about the Patriots in a previous blog “Screw the Monarchy! Vivent les patriotes !


Next blog: TBA

Religious Symbol & Face-Covering Bans in Other Countries

Quebec Bill 21 is only one of many such laws

2021-12-26, Updated 2021-12-27

What opponents of Bill 21 never talk about: the many laws in other countries which stipulate similar bans, but often stronger, more extensive ones.

Sommaire en français Ce dont les opposants à la Loi 21 ne parlent jamais : les nombreuses lois dans d’autres pays qui prévoient des interdictions similaires, mais souvent plus fortes, plus étendues. La compilation des données est disponible en français : Lois restreignant les couvre-visage et les signes religieux

Many other countries have laws similar to Bill 21, but often stronger. For example:

  • Religious symbols are banned for public servants in France, in Geneva and in two “Länder” of Germany. In particular, the Republic and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland bans religious symbols throughout the civil service, but with the proviso that it applies when the employee is in contact with the public.
  • Religious symbols are banned in public schools in France, parts of Belgium and in Pennsylvania.
  • Face-coverings are banned in public in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chad, Denmark, Egypt, France, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, etc. Morocco also bans the manufacture and sale of the burqa.
  • Face-coverings are banned in public services (employees and users, as in Quebec) in Italy [Lombardy], Malaysia, Netherlands and Tunisia.
  • Face-coverings are banned for public servants in Algeria and Germany.

When it comes to restrictions on religious symbols and/or face-coverings, there are two extreme positions:

  1. Ban them everywhere. I have only known one person who held such a draconian view.
  2. Ban them nowhere. This extremist position is apparently held by most opponents of Quebec Bill 21 (because they rarely specify any alternative, just a complete repeal).

A reasonable position is somewhere in between these two extremes: i.e. ban religious symbols (for secular reasons) and face-coverings (for reasons of security, identification, communication and women’s rights) in contexts where a ban will not unduely encroach upon some people’s freedoms while it protects others’ freedoms. That is precisely what Bill 21 does, although it is a little too weak and needs to be extended to the entire civil service.

Secularists choose a position somewhere midway between the two extremes, not because it is midway (that would be just the Fallacy of the Mean) but because in this situation it maximizes human rights, whereas the two extremes threaten such rights. Banning religious symbols worn by civil servants while on the job extends everyone’s freedom from religion, while putting only a small, well-circumscribed restriction on freedom of religious expression (i.e. religious practice) for State employees. Such a ban puts no restriction whatsoever on freedom of religious belief. In other words, it treats religious expression similar to how political expression is treated: with some restriction in the workplace.

The extremist position (2) holds that any ban is an encroachment on personal freedoms. This is libertarianism on steroids and is unacceptable because it gives absolute freedom to the wearer while completely neglecting the rights of others.

By adopting Bill 21 in June of 2019, Quebec joined the many countries listed above. In reaction, the arrogance and ignorance of Canadian anti-secularists have been infinite. Will they now claim that all those countries are populated or controlled by Christian supremacists with nefarious motives?

The page Laws Restricting Face-Coverings and Religious Symbols provides a compilation with full details. I update it periodically. Please let me know if you find any errors or omissions. (Links to relevant on-line articles are helpful. Links to actual legislation are even better.)


Next blog: Repeal Citizenship Regulation 17.1.b

Inapte à être juge

2021-12-21

La nomination récente d’Azimuddin Hussain à la magistrature de la Cour supérieure du Québec révèle un parti pris extrême.

Summary in English The recent appointment of Azimuddin Hussain to the bench of Quebec Superior Court reveals extreme bias. This blog is available in English: Unworthy To Be a Judge.

Hier (20 décembre 2021) nous avons appris la nouvelle : l’avocat Azimuddin Hussain vient d’être nommé juge à la Cour supérieure du Québec. Hussain a fait la une des journaux il y a un an, lorsqu’en novembre et décembre 2020, il a représenté un opposant à la Loi 21 devant ce même tribunal. Dans ses commentaires devant la cour, Hussain a fait un parallèle bizarre entre la Loi 21 et les lois de Nuremberg adoptées par l’Allemagne nazie en 1935. En somme, Hussain a observé que les lois de Nuremberg ont conduit au génocide et à l’holocauste, laissant ainsi comprendre que cette Loi 21 pourrait avoir des conséquences aussi néfastes.

Rappelons que les lois de Nuremberg refusaient la citoyenneté allemande aux Juifs (ainsi qu’aux Roms et aux Noirs) et interdisaient les mariages mixtes et les relations extraconjugales entre Juifs et Allemands. Par contre, la Loi 21 exige que certains fonctionnaires et enseignants retirent, lorsqu’ils sont au travail, tout signe religieux qu’ils porteraient normalement. C’est tout. La Loi 21 ne s’applique pas en dehors du travail.

Les propos de Hussain ont été bien plus sérieux qu’une simple comparaison entre deux choses disparates. C’est plutôt comme s’il avait mis sur un pied d’égalité une théière et un Tyrannosaurus rex. Pour ne rien arranger, le juge Marc-André Blanchard ne s’y est opposé en aucune façon. Cet incident s’inscrit dans le cadre de la campagne générale, menée par les opposants à la laïcité, pour dénigrer et diaboliser la Loi 21 et ses partisans.

Hussain a fait son commentaire un vendredi. Le lundi matin suivant, il a affirmé qu’il avait été mal interprété par les médias. Alors le juge lui a répondu : « Je vous assure que j’ai compris vos comparaisons comme étant purement rhétoriques. » À mon avis, cela constitue un sérieux biais et un manque de jugement majeur de la part de Blanchard.

Cependant, d’autres incidents sont survenus durant ce procès de la Cour supérieure, des échanges sans doute aussi graves, voire pires. À un moment donné, Hussain, dans sa détermination à discréditer le témoignage du témoin expert (pour le MLQ) Jacques Beauchemin, l’a qualifié de « homme blanc hétérosexuel plus âgé qui ne porte aucun signe religieux ». Lors d’une précédente audience du tribunal, Hussain a également déprécié un autre témoin expert, le professeur Georges-Auguste Legault, en le traitant d’« homme blanc » afin de discréditer son témoignage. Étant donné que le sexe, l’âge, la couleur de peau et l’orientation sexuelle n’ont aucune pertinence dans ce contexte, les commentaires de Hussain étaient totalement inappropriés. Ce qui est encore plus troublant, c’est que le juge Blanchard a écouté tout cela passivement, n’y faisant aucune objection, aucune tentative de réprimander Hussain pour son comportement inapproprié.

À mon avis, pour les raisons ci-dessus, ainsi que pour de nombreux autres aspects de ce procès l’année dernière, le juge Blanchard ainsi que Azimuddin Hussain doivent être considérés comme indignes du poste de juge à la Cour supérieure du Québec. Tous deux manquent de l’objectivité nécessaire pour occuper ce poste.

La nomination de Hussain révèle également que le ministre fédéral de la justice David Lametti et ceux qui l’ont conseillé doivent aussi être extrêmement biaisés.

Liens pertinents


Prochain blogue: Religious Symbol & Face-Covering Bans in Other Countries

Unworthy To Be a Judge

2021-12-21

The recent appointment of Azimuddin Hussain to the bench of Quebec Superior Court reveals extreme bias.

Sommaire en français La nomination récente d’Azimuddin Hussain à la magistrature de la Cour supérieure du Québec révèle un parti pris extrême. Ce blogue est disponible en français : Inapte à être juge.

Yesterday (Dec. 20, 2021) we learned that the lawyer Azimuddin Hussain has been named to the bench, as judge of Quebec Superior Court. Hussain was very much in the news a year ago, when in November and December of 2020 he represented an opponent of Bill 21 before that very court. In his comments at that time, Hussain drew an outrageous parallel between Bill 21 and the Nuremberg Laws adopted by Nazi Germany in 1935. Basically, Hussain observed that the Nuremberg Laws led to genocide and holocaust, thus implying that Bill 21 could lead to something as serious.

Recall that the Nuremberg Laws denied German citizenship to Jews (as well as Romani and Blacks) and banned intermarriage and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Germans. On the other hand, Bill 21 requires that some civil servants and teachers remove any religious symbols they normally wear when they are on the job. That is all. Bill 21 does not apply when off the job.

Hussain’s words were much worse than just comparing apples and oranges—more like comparing a teapot with a Tyrannosaurus rex. To make matters worse, the judge Marc-André Blanchard did not object in any way. This incident is part of the general campaign, by the opponents of secularism, to denigrate and demonize Bill 21 and its supporters.

Hussain’s comment was made on a Friday. The following Monday morning, Hussain claimed he had been misinterpreted by the media and the judge responded, “I assure you that I understood your comparisons as being purely rhetorical.” In my opinion, this constitutes serious bias and a major lack of judgment by Blanchard.

However, other incidents during that case last year were arguably as bad or even worse. At one point, Hussain, in his determination to discredit the testimony of the expert witness (for the MLQ) Jacques Beauchemin, referred to him as “an older white male heterosexual who does not wear a religious symbol.” In an earlier court session, Hussain also belittled another expert witness, professor Georges-Auguste Legault, by calling him “a white man” in order to discredit his testimony. Given that sex, age, skin colour and sexual orientation are of no relevance in this context, Hussain’s comments were completely inappropriate. Even more disturbing was that Judge Blanchard listened to all this passively and made no objection, no attempt to reprimand Hussain for his improper behaviour.

In my opinion, for the above reasons, as well as for many other aspects of the court case last year, both Judge Blanchard and Azimuddin Hussain must be considered unworthy of the position of Judge of Quebec Superior Court. Both lack the necessary objectivity to occupy that position.

The appointment of Hussain also reveals that Federal Justice Minister David Lametti and those who advised Lametti must also be extremely biased.

Relevant Links


Next blog: Inapte à être juge

Bill 21 as Seen by Four Quebec Secularists

2021-12-18

Four perspectives on Quebec’s secularism law, Bill 21, from four prominent secular activists.

Sommaire en français Quatre points de vue sur la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État (Loi 21) du Québec, de quatre éminents militants laïques.

Here is a collection of articles about Quebec Bill 21. All four authors support the law, of course, as do all secular organizations in Quebec. Each gives his or her own perspective on Bill 21 and why that legislation is so significant. I have translated into English a few excerpts from their articles originally in French.

Marie-Claude Girard

Retired from the Canadian Human Rights Commission & Board member of the Rassemblement pour la laïcité (RPL)

Loi sur la laïcité de l’État, Une loi résolument féministe (State Secularism Law, A Resolutely Feminist Law), 2021-12-17.

Mme Girard reminds us that most religious symbols are very different for women and for men; “each of them conveys distinct social status, values, roles and responsibilities, which exacerbate their sexist character.” Thus, it is false to claim that Bill 21 somehow penalizes women. Rather, it is religion which imposes the disparity between symbols and thus religion which causes different impacts.

In the Muslim religion, for example, it is women who wear more visible religious symbols (the hijab, for example). However, it is not the law that discriminates, but sexist religious demands.

Furthermore, Quebec is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979). Of course it is not up to the State to regulate sexist religious practices everywhere, but it must nevertheless ensure that its own institutions are free from sexism. By banning State employees in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, Bill 21 is a resolutely feminist law.

Daniel Baril

President of the Mouvement laïque québécois (MLQ)

Hijab à l’école, Un cas qui illustre la nécessité de la loi 21 (Hijab at school, A case illustrating the necessity of Bill 21), 2021-12-16.

Mr. Baril reminds Justin Trudeau that seven parents testified for the MLQ before Quebec Superior Court in late 2020, in support of Bill 21, underlining the importance of protecting the freedom of conscience of their children “in the face of the illegitimate desire of some teachers to display their religious beliefs in an ostentatious and permanent manner in the classroom.” In particular, Muslim parents argued that “wearing the hijab in class constitutes an incitement to fundamentalist religious practice…” Thus, it is teachers who wear religious symbols in class who violate freedom of conscience and religion. Bill 21, on the other hand, protects those freedoms.

Mr. Baril also reminds Bob Rae that no international declaration grants the right to practise one’s religion in the workplace. And we are dealing with practice here, not belief.

As for recent events in Chelsea, the teacher Fatemeh Anvari admitted that her hijab represents a religious and ideological combat. Thus, her intention is to transmit a message.

It is precisely this kind of militant proselytism that the Secularism Law seeks to prevent in schools. While the hijab carries meanings, these meanings conflict with the duty of religious and ideological reserve that a teacher owes to her students.

Mr. Baril also denounces the overwhelming naïveté and dishonesty of Jagmeet Singh who falsely claimed that Bill 21 discriminates against women. In reality, it is religion which discriminates, not secularism, by imposing different social norms on men and women. Finally, it is ridiculous to claim that reassigning Fatemeh Anvari to a non-teaching position had the effect of reducing “diversity” among teachers. By that logic, all teachers would be obliged to wear some kind of partisan symbol in order to maximize diversity. How about “God Does Not Exist” on t-shirts? Maybe then Trudeau and Singh would understand the need for secularism.

André Lamoureux

Political Scientist and Lecturer at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

La loi 21 n’est ni raciste ni antimusulmane (Bill 21 is Neither Racist nor Anti-Muslim), 2021-12-16.

Mr. Lamoureux underlines the denigration of Quebec which is evident in recent hostility towards Bill 21. Banning religious symbols worn by agents of the State is not a manifestation of anti-Muslim sentiment. For example, since 2004, Algeria imposes such a ban on customs agents, police and security personnel and the military, and bans the full veil for teachers. Yet Canada allows the full veil in citizenship ceremonies and when voting, ignoring the fact that it is

a symbol of enslavement for women, a cloth prison promoted in fact by oppressive politico-religious ideologies, including those of the Muslim Brotherhood, salafist movements and Iranian fundamentalist currents.

Belgium, France, Bulgaria, Austria and Denmark have all banned the full veil in public. Germany and the Netherlands have banned it in some contexts. These are democratic countries which have not been admonished by the courts of the European Union. Morocco has even banned the manufacture of the burqa. Sri Lanka also banned the full veil in the wake of a major terrorist attack by the Islamic State. Are all these decisions “Islamophobic”?

To reject the dogmas of religious fundamentalism and separate religion from State is a matter of democracy and the protection of the freedom of conscience of all, including that of children. Bill 21 is therefore not anti-Muslim. This is why the federal government must withdraw from the process of legal challenges to Quebec’s law and cease all funding for groups seeking to destroy it.

Jean-François Lisée

Journalist, Politician, Former Leader of the Parti québécois (PQ)

Laïcité et obscurantisme (Secularism and Obscurantism), 2021-12-15.

Mr. Lisée’s message is straightforward, bold and indispensable. After all the defamatory accusations and outrageous denigration,

The time has come to respond without inhibition on the subject of the Quebec law. It is feminist, anti-discriminatory and avant-garde. It is part of a centuries-old fight for enlightenment and against obscurantism. It is exemplary and courageous.

Bill 21 is feminist because it bans the display, by civil servants in positions of authority, of the misogynistic signs of religions, symbolizing modesty and submission, thus refusing to normalize them. By doing so, Bill 21 renders an important service “to all women in Quebec who are subject to a retrograde religious and family influence and who try to extricate themselves from it.”

Bill 21 is anti-discriminatory because (1) it applies to religious convictions the same duty of reserve which was previously applied only to political convictions and (2) because it applies equally to all religions.

Bill 21 is avant-garde because of Quebec’s unique experience with religion. Nowhere else in North America has a society been so overwhelmingly repressed by religious domination in the past and then progressed so rapidly and so decisively along the road towards secularization and personal freedoms.

Bill 21 is courageous because, in spite of all the venom and vilification which have been heaped on Quebec for affirming its language, culture and identity, both the PQ and the CAQ mustered the courage to propose important secular legislation. And during all that, the promoters of secularism such as Guy Rocher, Jolin-Barrette, Bernard Drainville and others have shown far more respect for their opponents than they received in return. The opponents of Bill 21, whether they like to admit it or not,

play into the hands of misogynist forces who would display symbols of women’s subservience within the very apparatus of the State, they advocate discrimination that puts religious convictions—and therefore superstitions—above all other convictions, they protect ostentatious and minority religions, to the detriment of those which are more respectful of civil rule, and they turn their backs on the growing number of citizens who are abandoning religious myths and dogmas. Far from participating in enlightenment, equality or the primacy of science and reason, opponents of Bill 21 hinder the march of progress. It is high time we let them know.

Next blog: Unworthy to be a Judge

English Canada’s Messiah Complex

2021-12-17

English Canada has gone completely nuts—again—in it reaction against Quebec’s secular Bill 21.

Sommaire en français Le Canada anglais est viré complètement fou — et pas pour la première fois — dans sa réaction contre la loi laïque québécoise, la Loi 21.

I never cease to be amazed by the arrogance, self-righteousness and wilful ignorance of Anglo-Canadian opponents of secularism. There is usually a huge dose of contempt for Quebeckers underneath everything they say about Bill 21, as if Quebeckers were retarded troglodytes who need to be controlled and enlightened by the intervention of their wonderfully superior English-speaking neighbours.

…as if Quebeckers were retarded troglodytes who need to be controlled and enlightened by the intervention of their wonderfully superior English-speaking neighbours.

English Canada’s hysterical reaction to Bill 21 has reached new extremes. Its Messiah complex is out of control. Now Brampton (ON) and Calgary (AB) want to fight Bill 21, as if it were any of their phoquing business. The mayor of Toronto has endorsed Brampton’s idea. Many other Canadian municipalities and provinces have made pronouncements against Bill 21 in the past. Canada’s ambassador to the UN, Bob Rae, declared recently that Bill 21 violates the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights—a bald-faced lie. Just consult article 29(2) of that declaration.

Even Mayor Valérie Plante of Montréal, a politician whom I do not particularly like, had the good sense to warn mayors of municipalities outside Quebec that they should not be using taxpayers’ money to finance a challenge to a law in a different province. Even Quebec Solidaire (QS)—notorious for having dishonestly abandoned its previous pro-secular position only shortly after the last provincial electionexpressed similar misgivings.

Bill 21 is very moderate, even timid. Several European countries have similar but stronger legislation dealing with religious symbols, and many more countries ban full-face coverings (including many Muslim-majority countries). A person who refuses to remove any religious symbol while on the job, especially if working as a civil servant or teacher, is behaving unethically. To allow the wearing of such symbols by civil servants and teachers is to grant an obvious religious privilege.

The English- and French-speaking worlds have two different ways of managing religion-State relations. Much can and has been written to explain the differences, but the most important distinction can be summed up in one simple but crucial principle: Separation between religions and State. So-called secularists in the English-speaking world regularly use this term “Separation” but rarely apply it completely. But the 1905 French secularism law has that term in its very title, “Loi de séparation des Églises et de l’État)”, and the principle is applied much more consistently in France.

All secular organizations in Quebec support Bill 21, but NO so-called “secular” organization in Canada outside Quebec supports it. Think about that for a moment.

Quebec follows the French model, but has some distance to go. Bill 21 needs to be strengthened at least by (1) extending religious symbol bans to the entire civil service and all school personnel, and (2) ending fiscal privileges still granted to religious institutions. However, Quebec is far ahead of the rest of Canada. All secular organizations in Quebec support Bill 21, but NO so-called “secular” organization in Canada outside Quebec supports it. Think about that for a moment.

…they must at least recognize Quebec’s jurisdiction in this matter and stop meddling in that province’s internal affairs.

When the separation principle is included, I call this “republican secularism” in order to avoid confusion (because the word “secularism” alone may be ambiguous). The republican model is clearly superior to the Anglo-American model, but if English Canadians are too ethnocentric or pig-headed to admit this, they must at least recognize Quebec’s jurisdiction in this matter and stop meddling in that province’s internal affairs.

Canada is a federation in which provinces have a certain degree of autonomy. Bill 21 is within Quebec’s provincial jurisdiction. When people from outside Quebec intervene in an attempt to repeal a Quebec law like Bill 21, democratically adopted and supported by the majority of the population of that province, then those intervenors are practising a form of neo-colonialism and cultural imperialism. And this from a people who swear by so-called “multiculturalism” as some kind of dogma! Obviously, that prefix “multi” does not include the Québécois.

Given a choice between republican secularism and religious privilege—including privileges for political Islam—only a fool, or a religious leader, would choose to support the latter. But that is what opponents of Bill 21 are choosing.

Their cowardly conformism to the dominant ideology of cultural relativism confuses other secularists and weakens the cause enormously.

Those organizations which claim to be secular, while hypocritically opposing secularism in the one place in Canada which is making real progress in that direction, are arguably the worst. Their cowardly conformism to the dominant ideology of cultural relativism confuses other secularists and weakens the cause enormously. The very people who should be putting their energies into supporting initiatives such as Bill 21 and making public statements to counter the hysterical anti-secularism of the Anglo-Canadian press and politicians are doing just the opposite. They have betrayed this important cause—and the many Canadians who support Bill 21—by choosing convenience over principle and religious privilege over separation.

If the current court challenge to Bill 21 reaches the Supreme Court of Canada, which is probable, and if that Court strikes the law down, which is possible, that decision will surely cause a major constitutional crisis. This in turn will, in all probability, lead to a huge increase in support for the Quebec independence movement, which eventually may lead to a unilateral declaration of independence by Quebec.

Quebec will continue its process of secularization which it started over half a century ago at the beginning of the Quiet Revolution. It can continue that progress either as a province within Canada, or as an independent secular republic.


Next blog: Bill 21 as Seen by Four Quebec Secularists

La Loi 21 pour les nuls

Version abrégée

2021-12-14

Un résumé des faits essentiels concernant la Loi 21 québécoise et la controverse à son sujet.

Summary in English
A summary of the basic facts about Quebec Bill 21 and the controversy surrounding it.
This blog is available in English.

Étant donné que la Loi 21 du Québec fait de nouveau l’actualité et que plusieurs incompréhensions, idées fausses et mensonges purs et simples se répandent, il est temps de rétablir quelques faits importants. Voici le minimum que vous devez savoir.

  1. La Loi 21 est une législation qui réalise partiellement la laïcité d’État au Québec et qui impose une restriction très mineure, voire insignifiante, à la liberté d’expression de certains employés de l’État, en leur interdisant le port de signes religieux au travail. Cela n’affecte en rien leur liberté de croyance. Ceci est fait dans le but de protéger les libertés d’autrui : les usagers de la fonction publique et surtout les écoliers. C’est fondamentalement ce que font toutes les lois : rechercher un équilibre entre des libertés conflictuelles. La Loi 21 fait un assez bon travail à cet égard, même s’il est trop faible.
  2. Le Québec est à l’avant-garde dans les Amériques en matière de laïcité. Beaucoup de gens au Canada anglais ne comprennent pas cela, ou refusent de le comprendre.
  3. De nombreuses personnes et groupes s’opposent à la laïcité pour diverses raisons. Mais il existe une force anti-laïcité particulièrement virulente et dangereuse : l’islam politique, qui est un mouvement politico-religieux d’extrême droite international, également connu sous le nom d’islamisme.
  4. L’un des outils de propagande préférés de l’islam politique est le voile islamique, dont il fait la promotion n’importe où et partout où il le peut. Cette mouvance a eu un énorme succès à imposer le voile dans les pays à majorité musulmane où, il y a quelques décennies, le voile était rarement vu dans les villes. En faisant porter aux femmes cet outil de propagande, on peut très efficacement jouer la carte de la victime. Le voile est à la fois religieux et politique, surtout ce dernier. Sa signification est indépendante de la mentalité des femmes qui le portent. Celles-ci ignorent souvent les implications du voile mais ressentent une forte pression pour le porter afin de se conformer.
  5. L’islam et même l’islamisme bénéficient d’un énorme traitement préférentiel de la part de la soi-disant gauche (et, de plus en plus, du centre aussi, comme Justin Trudeau), pour des raisons historiques et idéologiques liées aux succès spectaculaires et aux échecs ultimes tout aussi spectaculaires du marxisme.
  6. Le préjugé ethnique contre les Québécois francophones est un thème majeur de l’histoire canadienne. Les islamistes l’ont largement exploité. La peur anglo-canadienne du mouvement indépendantiste québécois a accru ce préjugé au cours des dernières décennies. L’opposition hystérique du Canada anglais à la Loi 21 est en grande partie (mais pas entièrement) une campagne de propagande haineuse contre les Québécois.

Prochaine blogue : English Canada’s Messiah Complex

Quebec Bill 21 for Dummies

Abbreviated Version

2021-12-14

A summary of the basic facts about Bill 21 and the controversy surrounding it.

Sommaire en français
Un résumé des faits essentiels concernant la Loi 21 et la controverse à son sujet.
Ce blogue est aussi disponible en français.

Given that Quebec Bill 21 is in the news again and many misconceptions, misunderstandings and outright lies are being spread, it is time to establish a few important facts. Here is the minimum you need to know.

  1. Bill 21 is law which partially implements State secularism in Quebec and which imposes a very minor, even trivial, restriction on the freedom of expression of some State employees, by banning them from wearing religious symbols on the job. This in no way impacts their freedom of belief. This is done to protect the freedoms of other people: users of civil services and especially schoolchildren. This is basically what all laws do: seek an equilibrium between conflicting freedoms. Bill 21 does a reasonably good job at that, although it is too weak.
  2. Quebec is in the vanguard of secularism in the Americas. Many people in English Canada do not understand this, or refuse to understand it.
  3. Many people and groups oppose secularism for various reasons. But there is one anti-secularism force which is particularly virulent and dangerous: political Islam, which is an international extreme right-wing politico-religious movement, also known as Islamism.
  4. One of political Islam’s preferred propaganda tools is the Islamic veil, which it promotes anywhere and everywhere it can. It has had enormous success imposing the veil in Muslim-majority countries where a few decades ago the veil was rarely seen in cities. By having women wear this propaganda tool, they can play the victim card very effectively. The veil is both religious and political, especially the latter. Its meaning is independent of the mentality of the women who wear it, who are often unaware of the veil’s full implications but feel pressure to conform by wearing it.
  5. Islam and even Islamism enjoy enormous preferential treatment from the so-called left (and increasingly from the centre, like Justin Trudeau), for historical and ideological reasons related to the spectacular success and equally spectacular ultimate failure of Marxism.
  6. Ethnic bigotry against Francophone Quebeckers is a major theme throughout Canadian history. Islamists have greatly exploited it. Anglo-Canadian fear of the Quebec independence movement increased this prejudice in recent decades. English Canada’s hysterical opposition to Bill 21 is largely (but not entirely) a hate-propaganda campaign against the Québécois.

Next blog: La Loi 21 pour les nuls

The Bullshitization of the Term “Systemic”

2021-12-01

How antisecularists have overused and abused the expression “systemic racism” as a weapon to fight Quebec Bill 21.

Sommaire en français Comment les anti-laïques ont usé et abusé de l’expression « racisme systémique » pour en faire une arme contre la Loi 21 au Québec.

The word “systemic” is a perfectly legitimate adjective. According to the on-line dictionary Wiktionary.org, systemic means (1) “Embedded within and spread throughout and affecting a whole system, group, body, economy, market, or society” or (2) “Pertaining to an entire organism.” (This is not to be confused with the term “systematic” which refers to something which is orderly, planned or methodical.)

For example, discrimination against atheists and other non-believers is systemic in Canada, because it is specified repeatedly in the country’s constitution and federal legislation. The very first line of the constitution’s preamble declares “the supremacy of God.” Hate propaganda legislation grants impunity to statements which would otherwise be considered hate-speech provided that they are based on a religious text. Religious institutions are granted sweeping fiscal privileges. Citizenship judges are required to allow “religious solemnization” in ceremonies. And so on.

Another example: Systemic colonialism and racism in Canada’s “Indian Act” which regulates relations between the federal government and First Nations. Although amended many times since, the Act was first adopted in 1876 unilaterally, i.e. without negotiation with First Nations.

Canadian history is replete with systemic prejudice against Francophones, although less so today, now that laws suppressing the French language in several provinces have been repealed. Historically, anti-French and anti-native bigotry converged, as the French mixed with native populations (e.g. intermarriage) much more than did the English. This convergence of prejudice was most evident in the Louis Riel case in the 1880s.

The fact that the French language is dominant in one province, Quebec, gives Francophones a degree of autonomy and agency not enjoyed by First Nations peoples who are much fewer in number and scattered in many small, isolated reserves. Nevertheless, prejudice against Francophones remains a reality, and that situation has systemic aspects. The 1982 constitution was adopted without the approval of Quebec. Judges in the Quebec Superior Court and Quebec Court of Appeal are appointed by the federal government and thus, not surprisingly, tend to be prejudiced in favour of ideologies (such as cultural relativism) which are promoted federally. (This was patently obvious in the 2021-04-20 decision of Justice Marc-André Blanchard.) Furthermore, the federal government financially supports court challenges to Quebec laws such as Bill 21 (which partially implements State secularism in Quebec) via the Court Challenges Program. Strong—in fact, fanatical—opposition to Bill 21 by Anglo-Canadian media and politicians is an example of cultural imperialism.

One more example: Child sexual abuse is systemic in the Roman Catholic Church. It is not the result of a few bad apples, so to speak, but rather a consequence of how the Catholic system is organized. Priests are endowed with divine authority, thus granting them a great deal of moral authority over adherents of that religion. At the same time, priests are forbidden to marry or to have sex (at least theoretically), thus creating an overwhelming degree of sexual frustration. The combination of these two circumstances makes widespead sexual abuse practically inevitable.

However, in recent years the word “systemic” has been greatly misused for ideological reasons. In particular, the expression “systemic racism” has become almost ubiquitous because it is a major element of Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT began as an academic discipline of legal scholars, studying racism from a systemic point of view, i.e. as a consequence of legal, cultural and social systems rather than the prejudices of individuals. CRT is the ideological centrepiece of the current so-called “antiracist” movement, but which should more accurately be called neo-racist or racialist as it rejects colour-blindness and is obsessed with race which it sees everywhere. Partisans of this ideology dogmatically interpret all disparities as caused by some kind of prejudice such as racism or sexism, never even bothering to consider that other factors—even random chance—might play a role. Thus, if a profession does not display the same demographic diversity as the general population, they then assume that prejudice must be the cause.

Ideologically motivated accusations of “systemic racism” have become commonplace. This is especially the case in the context of Quebec and secularism. The adversaries of secularism, in their zealous opposition to Bill 21, regularly accuse Quebec, Quebeckers or the Quebec government of “systemic racism.” They rarely if ever define exactly what is meant by that term. Questions such as: What system in Quebec is infected with racism? are never answered. Much has been made of the case of Joyce Echaquan, a Atikamekw woman who was the target of racist comments in a Quebec hospital and died of pulmonary edema. But that was obviously a case of individual racism, not systemic, unless accusors can point to objective evidence of some kind of systemic phenomenon.

We know full well what is really happening here. So-called antiracists are indulging in anti-Québécois bigotry—hey, let’s call it anti-Québécois racism to be perfectly blunt—as a dishonest means to denigrate Bill 21. Such “antiracists” are objectively allied with Islamists who regularly weaponize Canadians’ hostility towards Quebec in their efforts to kill Bill 21. Of course Bill 21 has nothing whatsoever to do with racism and is in no way discriminatory. Rather, it is the accusers who are themselves guilty of bigotry and racism. A particularly extreme example of this is Amir Attaran, professor at the University of Ottawa, who calls Quebec the “Alabama of the North.”

So far, Quebec Premier François Legault has resisted all attempts by these ideologues to pressure him to agree that “systemic racism” is endemic in Quebec. He is to be congratulated for his determination. Let us hope that he remains steadfast and continues to refuse to capitulate to such intimidation by antisecularists.


Next blog: Quebec Bill 21 for Dummies

The Incompetence of Shachi Kurl

Her “Question” to Bloc Leader Blanchet was Not a Question

2021-09-22

The behaviour of Angus Reid president Shachi Kurl at the English-language leaders’ debate shows that she is incompetent as she was unable, or unwilling, to conduct herself with a modicum of impartiality.

Sommaire en français Le comportement du président d’Angus Reid Shachi Kurl lors du débat des chefs en anglais montre qu’elle est incompétente car elle n’a pas pu, ou n’a pas voulu, se conduire avec un minimum d’impartialité.

Shachi Kurl is president of the polling agency Angus Reid Institute and was moderator of the 9th September 2021 English-language debate of federal political party leaders. The election is now over, with results practically identical to the party standings before the election. Nevertheless, the controversy caused by the behaviour of the moderator at this debate remains very relevant.

The debate began with the theme of “Leadership and Accountability” in which Kurl, after initial questions to Singh and Trudeau, caused a scandal by asking the following as her first question to Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet:

You deny that Quebec has problems with racism, yet you defend legislation, such as bills 96 and 21, which marginalize religious minorities, anglophones and allophones. Quebec is recognized as a distinct society but for those outside the province, please help them understand why your party also supports these discriminatory laws.

Canada election 2021: English-language federal leaders’ debate | FULL

For this question, Kurl was accused of Quebec-bashing by many Quebecers, including the entire National Assembly which unanimously passed a motion calling for the broadcasters of the debate to apologize. Not only did Quebec Premier Legault denounce Kurl’s attack on Quebec, even Justin Trudeau and Erin O’Toole agreed that Kurl’s formulation was inappropriate.

These accusations against Shachi Kurl for the tendentious nature of her question are of course totally well-founded. As I have been explaining for years, opposition to Quebec’s secularism Bill 21 is motivated, in part, by anti-Québécois ethnic bigotry (or racism if you prefer) which has been a recurring theme throughout Canadian history. This is the reality of the situation, although so-called anti-racists fail to recognize it. (Kurl’s question also referred to Draft Bill 96, legislation whose purpose is to strengthen protection of the French language and which would establish French as sole official language in Quebec. The federal House of Commons has, by an overwhelming majority, endorsed having that official status recognized in the Canadian Constitution, although a few anti-Francophone fanatics are still upset about it. However, Bill 96 is beyond the scope of this blog.)

The essential point to be made here is that Shachi Kurl’s “question” was not a question. Rather, it was obviously an accusation. It baldly asserted an extremely negative value judgment—that Bill 21 is discriminatory and perhaps even “racist”—dishonestly disguised as a question.

The fact that Kurl was unable or unwilling to ask a real question, having at least some semblance of impartiality, is proof of her incompetence. For the president of a polling agency, this is particularly disturbing, for how can anyone have confidence in the impartiality of a polling firm if its president is not even capable of formulating a question appropriately when moderating a political debate? If the moderator behaves like a partisan participant in the debate, rather than a disinterested arbiter, then she or he is incompetent.

Kurl could have formulated her question is a much more unbiased manner. She could, for example, have simply observed that some commentators have asserted that Bill 21 (or Bill 96) is discriminatory and then asked Blanchet his opinion of that assertion. But she did not. Instead, she choose to ask an extremely loaded question, making the negative assertions her own and denigrating the Québécois as racist.

When asked about the controversy, Kurl referred to the decision of Justice Marc-André Blanchard of the Quebec Superior Court, rendered 20th April 2020, which did indeed qualify Bill 21 as discriminatory while nevertheless upholding much of the law. This judgment stands as long as it is not overturned by a higher court. However, that decision can hardly be considered a reasonable assessment of Bill 21. Recall the following aspects of Justice Blanchard’s decision:

  • The judgment exempts English-language schools from Bill 21 on the grounds that it violates minority-language rights. This is absurd. Bill 21 has nothing to do with language or language rights.
  • The judgment suspends Bill 21’s ban on face-coverings for sitting members of the Quebec National Assembly, on the grounds that the ban violates the right to vote and run for public office. Again, this makes no sense, as such a ban in no way affects voting or running for office.
  • The judgment asserts that religious symbols worn by a person are far more important that political symbols because they involve the very “soul or essence” of the believer. This gives religious expression a priority greatly exceeding that of political expression, thus egregiously privileging religion. It also asserts—ludicrously—the existence of the human soul!
  • The judgment criticizes Bill 21 for failing to recognize any law of “God.” This implies that the State should recognize religious law, not just the law of the land, a totally unacceptable situation.

To say that Justice Blanchard’s decision was in error would be the understatement of the century. If Shachi Kurl has to resort to that decision to justify her tendentious behaviour at the leaders’ debate, she is grasping at straws.

It is important to remember that opposition to Quebec Bill 21 is based on totally neglecting the rights of civil service users and schoolchildren to an environment free of religious proselytism. Instead, the law’s opponents give absolute priority to the freedom of religious expression of the employee while displaying utter contempt for the rights of the users and schoolchildren whom the employees serve. They offer no valid reason to justify this religious privilege.

Finally, the association of Bill 21 with “racism” which is part of Shachi Kurl’s “question” is standard practice for the law’s opponents. Although the law obviously has nothing whatsoever to do with race or racism, opponents like Kurl irrationally and dishonestly conflate race with religion. This allows them to make specious accusations of racism, because defamation is their primary weapon in their war against secularism. Their constant use of such slander against secularists is proof of the vacuity of their arguments.


Next blog: What the “Woke” and the Political Right Have in Common