Secularism Betrayed: 2020 Version

English-Canadian pseudo-secularists sink even lower.


Several ostensibly “secularist” organizations in Canada outside Quebec either oppose Bill 21 or maintain a cowardly silence or neutrality on the subject. The situation has degenerated since the PQ’s Charter of Secularism in 2013-2014.

Sommaire en français Plusieurs organismes prétendument « secularist » au Canada hors Québec s’opposent à la Loi 21, ou gardent un silence ou une neutralité pusillanimes à ce sujet. La situation actuelle est encore pire que celle à l’époque de la Charte de la laïcité du PQ en 2013-2014.

We Canadians have the good fortune to live in a country where one of the founding peoples (if I may use that quaint expression), concentrated mainly in one province, has articulated a very well developed modern tradition of secularism. I say “tradition” because it is well over a century old, yet “modern” because it is very much a product of Enlightenment values, values to which all of us who are concerned with human welfare are greatly attached.

Quebec secularists have worked very hard, for many decades, towards their goal of secularism in that province. The most recent product of their efforts is Bill 21. That legislation is faced with great resistance and hostility. Dishonest journalists and politicians constantly denigrate Quebec, Quebeckers and secularism and misrepresent what Bill 21 does.

Secularists throughout Canada should be enthused by the adoption of Bill 21 and offer their whole-hearted support and solidarity to their Quebecois colleagues.

Secularists throughout Canada should be enthused by the adoption of Bill 21 and offer their whole-hearted support and solidarity to their Quebecois colleagues. And it should not require the intervention of outsiders to teach them to recognize the value of that legislation. But no, they have not done so. Blinded by various dubious ideologies, they have thrown Quebec secularists under the bus, either by keeping a cowardly silence or, worse, by siding with the Islamists and their allies who are determined to kill secularism.

A Deafening Silence

Where are the articles in support of Bill 21 on the websites of the Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFIC), or Humanist Canada (HC), or the Canadian Secular Alliance (CSA) or any other ostenibly secular organization in English Canada? Where are the press releases expressing solidarity with Quebec secularists and their resistance against the tsunami of hostility from the English-language media and from federal, provincial and municipal politicians? The articles analyzing how Canadian multiculturalism is incompatible with secularism and thus should be revised or abandoned? The articles denouncing the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) for its attempt to kill secularism in Quebec? The articles denouncing the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) for its complicity?

Where are the texts explaining how schoolchildren are vulnerable to the influence of teachers who wear religious symbols? The articles explaining that allowing a State employee to wear a religious symbol while on duty is an obvious example of religious privilege?

Where are the texts written by English Canadian humanists and secularists analyzing the antisecularism of Charles Taylor and the clientelism of Justin Trudeau who panders so much to religious minorities? Where are the articles denouncing the American media’s knee-jerk hostility to French secularism? We saw an example of that very recently, with the dishonest article in the Washington Post by James McAuley who deliberately conflates masks worn for health reasons with the full Islamic veil.

If lack of member support prevents the Directors of an organization from making official declarations, that does not prevent them from publishing opinion pieces in support of Bill 21.

Perhaps there are such articles or press releases and I have missed them. If you know of any, please send me the links using the contact form on this site.

Secularism: A Foundational Principle? Or Merely an Option?

Any Canadian organization which claims to be secularist must, to be consistent, support Bill 21. If an organization cannot endorse Bill 21 because of insufficient support by its members, then the Directors should at least have the honesty to admit that secularism is not part of that organization’s foundational principles, but merely an option which it may abandon, depending on where the wind is blowing at the current moment.

…secularism is not part of that organization’s foundational principles, but merely an option which it may abandon, depending on where the wind is blowing…

The fact that an incomplete model of secularism—i.e. the Lockean—is the norm in the RoC is no excuse. The major difference between the Lockean model and full secularism is the absence of the separation principle in the former. And yet, the principle of separation between State and religions is well known in the English language and frequently invoked. All that secularists need to do is to take that principle seriously, to apply it where appropriate, to be consistent with their own declared values. If a State employee, while on duty, wears a visible crucifix, or a hijab, or a kippa, or a Sikh turban, or any other obvious religious symbol, then the separation principle is clearly violated. To deny this is disingenuous and dishonest.

From Cowardice to Hypocrisy

The neutrality with respect to Bill 21 adopted by some organizations is an act of cowardice. But the behaviour of CFIC is far worse. An article included in CFIC’s May 2020 newsletter not only opposes Bill 21 to the point of throwing support behind the antisecularists of the NCCM, but it even shows willingness to lie as a strategy in the court case—by using the falsehood that Bill 21 discriminates against women. It is not clear whether this article represents the organization’s formal position, but if CFIC does not, in the very near future, distance itself from that position by making a public declaration renouncing those who seek the repeal of Bill 21, then we can conclude that CFIC is guilty of abysmal hypocrisy by opposing the very principle, secularism, which it claims to support.

…opposing the very principle, secularism, which it claims to support.

(I do not have time to discuss the BCHA here, but its position is even worse, because it has explicitly rejected secularism by using the word “laïcité” as an excuse to dismiss it.)

We who support Bill 21 are either abandoned or stabbed in the back by our so-called “sister organisations” outside Quebec. The behaviour of Canadian pseudo-secularists has been cowardly, irrational, and extremely hypocritical.

It was not always so: back in 2013-2014, several English-Canadian organizations, including Humanist Canada, supported the PQ’s Charter of Secularism of the time. And, to the best of my knowledge, they did so on their own initiative. But today, things have degenerated. That same HC has adopted a neutral position. See the analysis and discussion in AFT Blog #118.

Apparently no Canadian group outside Quebec will support Bill 21, even though it is weaker than the PQ Charter was with respect to religious symbols. But some tell us to be patient, that we should be diplomatic. No Way. English-Canadian pseudo-secularists have no excuse. They deserve the full brunt of our criticism.

Next blog: TBA

AAI’s John Richards Interviews David Rand about Quebec Bill 21


John Richards, Publications Director of Atheist Alliance International (AAI) and editor of AAI’s magazine Secular World, interviews David Rand, president of Atheist Freethinkers, about Quebec’s secularism law, Bill 21.

Sommaire en français John Richards, directeur des publications de l’Alliance Athée Internationale (AAI) et rédacteur en chef de sa revue Secular World, reçoit David Rand, président de Libres penseurs athées (Atheist Freethinkers), au sujet de la Loi 21 au Québec.

See also:

Next blog: Secularism Betrayed: 2020 Version

Quebec Court of Appeal Ruling, 2019-12-12

Some Quick Notes

2019-12-20 (2020-01-30, link added)

On December 12th 2019, the Quebec Court of Appeal delivered its decision in the case Hak, NCCM and CCLA versus Attorney General of Quebec, N° 500-09-028470-193 (local copy), rejecting the application to suspend Bill 21, pending a ruling on the substance of the issue.

Français Ce billet de blogue est disponible aussi en français sous le titre : Décision de la Cour d’appel du Québec, 2019-12-12.

What is at Stake

The plaintiffs requested that the court suspend two sections of Bill 21, An Act respecting the laicity of the State which implements State secularism in Quebec:

  • Section 6 which bans the wearing of religious symbols by some civil servants (as specified in Schedule II of the Bill) while on duty.
  • Section 8 which stipulates that civil services must be provided and received with the face uncovered.

In this case, two sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Constitution Act of 1982, are often referenced:

  • Section 28 which guarantees equal rights and freedoms to persons of both sexes.
  • Section 33, the famous “notwithstanding” clause, which allows legislators to adopt laws which operate notwithstanding certain provisions of the Charter.

The Judges and Their Decisions

There were three judges, two of whom rejected the plaintiffs’ request for suspension. Thus, the request is rejected by a majority.

  • Chief Justice Nicole Duval Hesler, who favoured granting the suspension of section 6 which bans the wearing of religious symbols (but not section 8).
  • Justice Dominique Bélanger, who rejected the appeal.
  • Justice Robert M. Mainville, who rejected the appeal.

Most of the judgement document consists of the grounds for the decision of each of the three judges.

A Few Observations

  • The judges Duval Hesler et Bélanger often assert that Bill 21 discriminates against religious believers! But this is obviously false, because the law applies to all religions.
  • The judges Duval Hesler et Bélanger often assert that Bill 21 discriminates against women. But this is obviously false, because the law applies to all persons, whether women or men. However the judge Mainville is not duped. He gives the example of a man who may not wear a turban on a construction site because wearing a hardhat is compulsory; and yet no-one claims that this discriminates against men.
  • The situation is obvious: Bill 21 does not discriminate against women. On the contrary, it is religions which discriminate against women. This is especially true of Islam, that most misogynistic of all the great religions, or at least its fundamentalist variant known as Islamism or political Islam. By imposing the wearing of the veil as part of its political programme, Islamism generates greater numbers of women who would defy Bill 21.
  • In paragraph [123], Judge Mainville implicitly recognizes this when he writes that the plaintiffs have abandoned the debate about religious symbols and now limit the debate about section 28 to the Islamic veil and the full veil. Thus, it is not Bill 21 which targets Muslim women. Rather, the plaintiffs themselves (and behind them, Islamism) are targetting Muslim women.
  • Why is it that Chief Justice Duval Hesler claims that Bill 21 discriminates against women, when it is obvious that it does not? Remember that this judge has shown herself to be prejudiced in favour of the ideology of multiculturalism. In fact, several complaints against her have been submitted to the Canadian Judicial Council. For example, the Chief Justice suggested, during one of the court sessions, that Bill 21 is a response to « visual allergies » that some people have towards religious symbols. This statement is very similar to the typical arguments of those who oppose any and all bans on religious symbols. They wantonly and completely ignore the argument that such bans are necessary to protect the freedom of conscience of users of public services. Instead, they claim that supporters of such bans are just expressing unhealthy personal whims.
  • One of the precepts of secularism, a consequence of the principle of separation between religions and State, is that the State neither recognizes nor privileges religions. Thus, religious beliefs and practices are entirely the responsibility of believers. But those who promote Canadian multiculturalism, on the other had, adopt the opposite attitude: multiculturalists (i.e. communitarians) hold the State responsible for the consequence of religious beliefs and practices and must accommodate them, hence the notorious practise of religious accommodation. Religious believers are thus relieved of all responsibility. This is completely backwards! The idea that the State should submit to the demands of believers is unacceptable. Such a communitarian approach is incompatible with secularism and its implementation in Canada is yet another proof of the necessity of Bill 21. The State must not be held hostage to people who choose to behave like walking billboards for a religion. Those who choose to wear religious symbols are the only ones responsible for their choice.
  • The judges talk a lot about infringements of fundamental rights of the employee of the State, but never mention infringements of the freedom of conscience of users of civil services or pupils in public schools. The judges refer only to the “public interest”—a rather vague term—without specifying that such public interest is in fact the need to protect the fundamental rights of users and students. When a teacher wears a religious symbol, he or she is violating the pupils’ freedom of conscience by engaging in religious advertising, i.e. passive proselytizing, thus violating the freedom of conscience of his or her pupils. Rights are not absolute. The rights of one person or group may conflict with those of another, as they do here. The obvious solution is for the teacher to abstain from wearing religious symbols while on the job, but maintaining full freedom off the job.
  • The Chief Justice expresses the opinion that the grandfather clause in Bill 21 weakens the government’s case opposing the suspension of the Bill, because the presence of that clause implies that there is no great urgency to apply the ban. Thus, she confirms that including that clause was indeed a very bad idea.
  • The grounds given by judge Mainville include a number of excellent points related to the Islamic veil and legislation in Europe and elsewhere relevant to the veil. In paragraph [139] he writes that “several democratic, liberal societies have adopted such measures” banning the wearing of religious symbols.
  • Even though Mainville rejects the appeal and his comments are much more reasonable than those of the other two judges, in paragraph [114] he seems unfortunately to be rather favourable to the communitarian and antisecular thesis that the State should take religious demands into account.
  • Judges Duval Hesler and Bélanger never consider the possibility of removing one’s religious symbol when going to work. And yet, that is exactly what Bill 21 is asking civil servants who wear them to do. Mainville does mention this point on one occasion, I believe.
  • Judges Duval Hesler and Bélanger say that Bill 21 may violate section 28 (equality of the sexes) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, even though that is obviously false. Sikh men sometimes wear a turban (whereas Sikh women rarely do), but as judge Mainville points out, this cannot be considered discrimination against men caused by granting unequal religious rights to men and women. Bill 21 does not discriminate against anyone. It applies to all religions and to both men and women.
  • Even if Bill 21 violated section 28, It has not been established the Section 28 has priority over the notwithstanding clause 33. The judges in the Court of Appeal discuss this, but reach no conclusion. Thus, it has not been established that Bill 21 violates the Charter. The case is before the courts and will not be heard until the fall of 2020. In the meantime, two court decisions (this one of 2019-12-12, as well as the previous decision of judge Yergeau, 2019-07-18) have already concluded that, if there is any violation, it is not serious enough to merit an injunction suspending the law. The law remains in effect for now.
  • Finally, from a Quebec perspective, the Charter is not some sacred document. Rather, it is part of the 1982 constitution which was never approved by Quebec. So Quebec may be legally required to respect it, but not morally required to do so. If ever Bill 21 is struck down, it will be a great injustice, an example of “Might Makes Right.”

Next blog: Please Remove Your MAGA Hat at Work

Décision de la Cour d’appel du Québec, 2019-12-12

Quelques remarques préliminaires

2019-12-18 (2020-01-30, ajout d’un lien)

Le 12 décembre 2019, la Cour d’appel du Québec a rendu sa décision dans le cas de Hak, CNMC et ACLC contre le Procureur-général du Québec, N° 500-09-028470-193 (copie locale), refusant la demande de suspendre le Loi 21 en attendant la décision sur le fond de la question.

English This blogue is also available in English under the title: Quebec Court of Appeal Ruling, 2019-12-12.

Les enjeux

Il s’agissait de suspendre, ou non, deux articles de la Loi 21, Loi sur la laïcité de l’État :

  • L’article 6 qui interdit le port de signes religieux à certains fonctionnaires (spécifiés à l’Annexe II de la Loi) au travail.
  • L’article 8 qui stipule que les services publics doivent être fournis et reçus à visage découvert.

Dans ce litige, deux articles de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés, qui fait partie de la Loi constitutionnelle canadienne de 1982, sont souvent cités :

  • L’article 28 qui garanti l’égalité de droits et libertés aux personnes des deux sexes.
  • L’article 33, la fameuse clause dérogatoire, qui permet aux législateurs d’adopter une loi qui déroge à certains articles de cette Charte.

Les juges et leurs décisions

Il y avait trois juges, dont deux ont rejeté la demande de suspension. Donc la demande est rejetée à la majorité.

  • La juge en chef Nicole Duval Hesler, qui aurait accueilli la demande de suspendre l’article 6 qui interdit le port de signes religieux (mais pas l’article 8).
  • La juge Dominique Bélanger, qui a rejeté la demande.
  • Le juge Robert M. Mainville, qui a rejeté la demande.

La plupart du document du jugement consiste en les motifs de chacune et chacun des trois juges.

Quelques observations pêle-mêle

  • Les juges Duval Hesler et Bélanger parle souvent de discrimination contre les croyants dans la Loi 21 ! Mais évidemment c’est faux, car cette Loi s’applique à toutes les religions.
  • Les juges Duval Hesler et Bélanger parle souvent de discrimination contre les femmes dans la Loi 21. Mais évidemment c’est faux, car cette Loi s’applique à toute personne, femme ou homme. Par contre, le juge Mainville n’est pas dupe. Il donne l’exemple d’un homme qui est interdit de porter un turban sur un chantier de construction puisque le port du casque y est obligatoire : mais on ne parle pas de discrimination contre les hommes.
  • C’est une évidence : la Loi 21 ne discrimine pas les femmes. Au contraire, ce sont les religions qui discriminent les femmes et c’est surtout l’islam, cette religion la plus misogyne de toutes les grandes religions, ou du moins sa variante fondamentaliste l’islamisme ou l’islam politique, qui en fait le plus. En imposant le port du voile qui fait partie de son programme politique, l’islamisme génère davantage de femmes qui contreviennent à la Loi 21.
  • Au paragraphe [123], le juge Mainville constate implicitement cette situation en écrivant que « les appelants ne font plus le débat des signes religieux. Ils limitent le débat portant sur l’article 28 au foulard islamique et au voile intégral. » Ainsi, ce n’est pas la Loi 21 qui vise les femmes musulmanes, ce sont les plaignants (et l’islamisme derrière eux) qui visent les Musulmanes.
  • Pourquoi la juge en chef Duval Hesler considère-t-elle que la Loi 21 discriminerait les femmes, lorsque cela est évidemment faux ? Rappelons que cette juge a manifesté des préjugés favorables à l’idéologie du multiculturalisme. À ce sujet, plusieurs plaintes contre elle ont été déposées au Conseil de la magistrature. À titre d’exemple, cette juge a déclaré, pendant une des audiences, que la Loi 21 serait une réponse aux « allergies visuelles » de certaines personnes aux signes religieux. Cette déclaration ressemble énormément aux arguments habituels des adversaires de toute interdiction de signes religieux, ignorant volontairement et complètement les arguments à l’effet que de telles interdictions sont nécessaires pour protéger la liberté de conscience des usagers de services publics, et prétendant qu’il ne s’agisse que de lubies personnelles malsaines.
  • Un des préceptes de la laïcité, découlant du principe de la séparation religions-État, c’est que l’État ne reconnaît pas les religions et ne les privilégie pas, les croyances et pratiques religieuses étant donc entièrement la responsabilité des croyants et des croyantes. Mais les partisans du multiculturalisme canadien, par contre, adoptent l’attitude inverse : les multiculturalistes (c’est-à-dire les communautaristes) tiennent l’État pour responsable des conséquences des croyances et pratiques religieuses et doit les accommoder, d’où les fameux accommodements religieux. Les croyant(e)s sont ainsi déresponsabilisé(e)s. C’est le monde à l’envers. L’État doit se plier aux croyant(e)s ? Ahurissant ! Cette approche communautariste est incompatible avec la laïcité et son implantation au Canada est une autre preuve de la nécessité de la Loi 21. Il ne faut pas que l’État soit pris en otage par des gens qui choisissent de se transformer en panneau publicitaire pour une religion. Ce sont ceux et celles qui portent de tels signes qui demeurent responsables de leur choix.
  • Les juges parlent d’atteinte aux libertés ou aux droits fondamentaux de l’employé(e) de l’État, mais on ne mentionne jamais les atteintes à la liberté de conscience des usagers de service publics et des étudiants dans les écoles publiques. Les juges ne parlent que de l’« intérêt public » — ce qui est assez vague — sans spécifier que cet intérêt public est de protéger justement les droits fondamentaux de ces usagers et étudiants. Lorsqu’un(e) enseignant(e) porte un signe religieux, il ou elle fait de la publicité religieuse, c’est-à-dire du prosélytisme passif, et viole ainsi la liberté de conscience des ses élèves. Les droits ne sont pas absolus, puisqu’il peut y avoir un conflit entre les droits des uns et les droits des autres. C’est le cas ici. La solution évidente est que l’enseignant(e) s’abstienne de porter son signe religieux durant ses heures de travail, tout en maintenant son entière liberté en dehors du travail.
  • Selon la juge en chef, la clause grand-père dans la Loi 21 affaiblit la cause du gouvernement qui s’oppose au sursis (suspension) parce que cette clause indique qu’il n’y a pas d’urgence à imposer l’interdiction. Cela confirme que l’insertion de cette clause a été une très mauvaise idée.
  • Les motifs du juge Mainville comportent des éléments excellents en ce qui concerne la nature du voile islamique et la législation en Europe et ailleurs qui s’y rapporte : « plusieurs sociétés démocratiques et libérales ont adopté de telles mesures » écrit-il au paragraphe [139] en parlant de l’interdiction du port de signes religieux.
  • Même si Mainville rejette l’appel, et que ses motifs sont bien plus raisonnables que ceux des deux autres juges, dans le paragraphe [114] il semble malheureusement plutôt favorable à la thèse communautariste et antilaïque que l’État devrait tenir compte des exigences religieuses.
  • Les juges Duval Hesler et Bélanger ne parlent jamais de la possibilité d’enlever un signe religieux pour aller travailler. Pourtant, c’est exactement ce que la Loi 21 demande des fonctionnaires qui en portent. Mainville le mentionne une seule fois, je crois.
  • Les juges Duval Hesler et Bélanger considèrent que la Loi 21 violerait peut-être l’article 28 (égalité des sexes) de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés, même si cela est évidemment faux. Plusieurs personnes de confession sikhe portent le turban, des hommes bien plus souvent que des femmes, mais comme écrit si bien le juge Mainville « on peut douter qu’il s’agisse aussi d’une discrimination fondée sur le traitement inégal du droit à la religion des hommes par rapport aux femmes. » La loi 21 ne discrimine personne : elle s’applique à toutes les religions et aux hommes comme aux femmes.
  • Même si la Loi 21 violait l’article 28, il n’a pas été établi que l’article 28 aurait préséance sur l’article dérogatoire 33. Les juges discutent beaucoup de cette question, mais ne se prononcent pas. Ainsi, il n’a pas été établi que la Loi 21 serait incompatible avec la Charte. Cette question sera débattue devant les tribunaux en automne 2020. En attendant, deux cours ont déjà émis des décisions (celle-ci du 12 décembre 2019, ainsi que celle du juge Yergeau le 18 juillet 2019) que, si violation il y a, elle n’est pas suffisamment urgente pour justifier une suspension de la Loi. Celle-ci demeure en vigueur.
  • De toute façon, du point de vue du Québec, la Charte n’est pas un document sacré. Elle fait partie de la constitution canadienne de 1982 à laquelle le Québec n’a jamais accordé son approbation. Ainsi, si le Québec doit légalement respecter cette Charte, cette obligation n’est pas morale. Si un jour la Loi 21 est abrogée, ce sera une grande injustice, un exemple de « la raison du plus fort ».

Prochain blogue : Quebec Court of Appeal Ruling, 2019-12-12

Three Examples of Cultural (Mis)Appropriation

Christianity, Islam and Canada


In this blog I present three instances when a idea or a set of concepts was appropriated from an existing culture by a newly forming religious or political entity. Should we call it cultural appropriation, or cultural misappropriation?

Sommaire en français Je présente dans ce billet de blogue trois exemples d’une idée ou d’un ensemble de concepts qu’une nouvelle entité religieuse ou politique s’est approprié à partir d’une culture existante. S’agit-il d’appropriation culturelle ou de « mésappropriation » culturelle.

In a previous blog, I argued that the taboo against so-called “cultural appropriation” is irrational and harmful, because intercultural borrowing is not only very widespread—being practically the norm rather than the exception— and furthermore because it enriches human cultures and improves the general quality of life. I also suggested, in those rarer cases when such borrowing is harmful in some way to the orginating group and may thus be reasonably considered a sort of plagiarism or even theft, that the term “cultural misappropriation” be used instead. Of course, determining the category into which a particular case should be classified often leaves plenty of room for debate.

In this blog, I give three examples of borrowing where the resulting concept is so well known, so commonplace, that most people are probably unaware, or have forgotten, that any borrowing had occurred.


It is well-known that Christianity is basically a rip-off of Judaism. I call it Judaism for ancient Greeks. The religion of the Hebrews, Judaism, was just another of countless tribal religions among various peoples of antiquity in and around the Roman Empire. It was not even a monotheism until rather late in its history, starting first as a polytheism, then evolving into a monolatry (worship of one god while recognizing the existence of many others) and finally emerging as a monotheism, where all gods were subsumed under their one god Jehovah. (This last step was a rationalization used by the defeated Hebrews to explain how the god of a rival tribe could defeat theirs—at least that is the explanation put forward by author Jean Soler to explain the origins of monotheism.)

Then along came Paul of Tarsus, a rather dysfunctional individual, especially his views on sexuality, whom Christians venerate as “Saint Paul.” Paul took an obscure Jewish reform movement and turned it into a new religion Christianity, and the rest is history. Paul was the founder of Christianity, not Jesus, because the existence of Jesus is uncertain, and even if he did exist, we know almost nothing about him. Christianity borrowed heavily from both Judaism (a large chunk of the Christian bible is lifted directly from the Hebrews) and from the religion of the ancient Greeks (for example, the concept of hell is an extension of Hades, but much worse). Of course Christianity also borrowed from Egyptian and other religions, in particular the concepts of virgin birth and the son of god.

Christians were persecuted for centuries by the Roman authorities, because their dogmatic monotheism was so intolerant that they refused to recognize the gods and authority of Rome. Constantine put an end to that persecution in the early IVth century C.E. and later that century the spectacularly intolerant Theodosius Ist made Nicene Christianity the empire’s state religion, while banning all other religions including the traditional cults of the Roman and Greek gods.

Thus, in creating the new religion of Christianity, a tribal religion was transformed into one with universalist pretentions and which persecuted anyone, regardless of ethnicity, who refused to adopt it. In particular, Jews who refused to convert to the new fashionable religion were particularly reviled, and the crucifixion story, an essential part of Christian mythology, was used as a convenient excuse for that persecution on the pretext that it was Jews who had murdered Jesus Christ. It is amusing to note that the word “pagan” is derived from the Latin “pāgānus” meaning “rural” or “rustic” (and related to “peasant”), as non-Christians were apparently considered country bumpkins not yet hip to the cool new religion of Christianity which was all the rage in urban centres of the empire.


Several centuries after the Christians plagiarized Judaism, along came Muhammad, calling himself a prophet of the one true god—indeed claiming to be the last prophet of god for all eternity! He borrowed heavily from Judaism and Christianity, the so-called religions of the Book, which he apparently envied for their scriptures which gave them an aura of wisdom and sagacity. His new religion Islam is sometimes considered to be a derivative of Arian Christianity. Arianism was a non-Nicene variant of Christianity (i.e. no trinity) which was rejected as heresy by the First Council of Nicaea, convoked by Constantine in 325.

I call Islam Judaism for Arabs. Muhammad initially attempted to convert some Jewish tribes, living in the Arabian peninsula, to his new religion, but when they refused, he had them massacred. Basically, Muhammad took two bad ideas, Judaism and Christianity, combined them and put himself at the centre of the result, which became arguably even more intolerant than the two already very intolerant source religions. The quran contains many expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment, as well as lots of misogyny and violent hostility towards unbelievers and polytheists.


According to the Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism by James Stuart Olson, “The name Canada probably is derived from the Huron-Iroquois kanata, meaning a village or a community.” So we can consider the use of the word Canada by Europeans to be a form of cultural appropriation, although a rather trivial one, as many languages borrow heavily from others. However, a far more significant form of cultural (mis)appropriation occurred centuries after Europeans overran the Americas.

Until the British conquest of New France in the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), Canada was basically just another name for New France. This territory was divided by the British into Upper and Lower Canada (« les deux Canadas ») and its inhabitants, « les Canadiens » or « Canayens », were of course mainly French-speaking and descended from settlers from France with some intermarriage with native peoples. The two Canadas were re-united by the Act of Union of 1840-1841 into a single colony known as « Canada-Uni » or the “Province of Canada” in an attempt by the British to assimilate francophones into the anglophone majority.

Then in 1867, year of Confederation, the two then became distinct provinces, Ontario and Québec, in the newly founded nation which we call Canada. By that time, only Quebec was majority French-speaking, because immigration into Upper Canada, a.k.a. Ontario, had made it mainly English-speaking. At Confederation, Canada was composed of four provinces (with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), and since then six more have been added to make ten today.

The point of this brief historical review is to explain that the name “Canada” and the adjective “Canadian” refer primarily to New France and its inhabitants, but those terms have been appropriated by the country Canada founded in 1867 in which English was and remains the dominant language. That dominance increases with each passing decade, for a variety of reasons. Thus, the word “Canadian” should properly refer to the Québécois who are the descendants of the inhabitants of New France.

Of course, that is not how things have worked out. The name “Canada” now refers to a country which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and from the Arctic islands in the north to the U.S. border in the south. Those who once referred to themselves as « Canayens » now prefer, or at least have become habituated to, the term « Québécois » and have abandoned the now quaint-sounding « Canadiens français ». However, even after all these years, the two language groups in this enlarged Canada, English and French, are still divided by some major differences in culture and values.

So, the next time you hear some Canadian ideologue complain about how Quebecers are so stubborn and backward (or worse) and fail to worship fashionable Canadian ideals such as so-called “multiculturalism” (i.e. communitarianism) or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, just remember that Canadians appropriated the term “Canada” and now, using that plagiarized name, wish to impose forcefully on Quebecers values they do not agree with. It must not be forgotten that the Charter is part of the 1982 Constitution which has never been approved by Quebec and was indeed foisted upon it against its will. If anyone gloats about the fact that Quebec is legally required to obey the Charter, what they are basically saying is that “Might Makes Right”—ethics and democracy be damned. This whole scenario reminds me of how Christians plagiarized Jews and polytheists, then vilified the former as Christ-killers and denigrated the latter as pagans.

Appropriation or Misappropriation?

Should the three cases explained above be considered appropriation or misappropriation? I think it is clear that the borrowing in each case ended up being rather harmful to those who were plagiarized. This is especially the case with Christianity and Islam, both of which have been, and often continue to be, very anti-Jewish. The final example, that of Canada, is much less extreme, but nevertheless harmful to the plagiarized Québécois. I consider all three examples to be cases of misappropriation. However, I do not think that any kind of corrective re-appropriation, for lack of a better expression, is in order. That would be akin to rewriting history. It would absurd to ban the use of the Pentateuch by Christians because they copied it from the Hebrews. It would be equally absurd to require that Muslims stop referring to Abraham and Jesus as (lesser) prophets of Islam. And it would be ridiculous to insist that the country we now know as Canada change its name.

Rewriting history, in the sense of erasing parts of it, is for fools and demagogues. What we do need to do is to remember history, to preserve it, to enrich our knowledge of it, to learn from it and to use it as one resource among many as we face the future. We can learn two lessons from the above historical considerations: (1) neither Christianity nor Islam had anything particularly original to offer; and (2) Canadians have no right to feel self-righteous and superior to the Québécois.

Next blog: Décision de la Cour d’appel du Québec, 2019-12-12

Ontario NDP: Still Crazy After All These Years

Follies of the Religious “Left”

2019-11-28, minor corrections 2019-11-29

A quick look at how the Ontario NDP has pandered to various religions over the years.

Sommaire en français Un bref aperçu de la pratique du clientélisme religieux par le NPD ontarien au fil des ans.

The Ontario New Democratic Party (ONDP), just like other branches of the ostensibly left-of-centre NDP, has always had a pro-religious bias. Back in 1985 under the Conservative government of Bill Davis, and well before the ONDP came to power in that province in 1990, the ONDP fully supported the extension of public funding to the parallel Catholic school system to 100%.

Some two decades later, it was NDPer and former attorney-general Marion Boyd who in December 2004 proposed including Muslim sharia law in arbitration of family law and inheritance. Fortunately, a widely based opposition, including even the French FNLP (Fédération nationale de la libre pensée), succeeded in convincing the Ontario government to reject this idea and, further, to remove recognition of other religious traditions. This prompted the Quebec National Assembly to adopt unanimously, on 26th May 2005, a motion opposing the implementation of Islamic courts in Quebec and in Canada:

« Que l’Assemblée nationale du Québec s’oppose à l’implantation des tribunaux dits islamiques au Québec et au Canada. »


The motion, put forward by then-MNA Fatima Houda-Pepin, only one short sentence in length, does not mention any other province explicitly nor target any specific legislation.

Fast-forward to 2019. English Canada, or what is commonly referred to as RoC (outside Quebec) is rocked by an hysterical and irrational wave of anti-Quebec sentiment, motivated by a wanton misreading of Quebec’s new Bill 21 which (partially) implements secularism in that province. Unsurprisingly, the Ontario NDP has jumped on the bandwagon, even driving it. On 25th November, Andrea Horwath, ONDP MPP and Leader of the Official Opposition, proposed the following rather verbose motion, which was adopted unanimously by the legislature:

Whereas all people who wear religious symbols, including turbans, hijabs, kippahs, crucifixes and other articles of clothing that represent expressions of their faith, are welcome to serve the Ontario public; and

Whereas discrimination based on religion is prohibited by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and

Whereas Quebec passed legislation, Bill 21, that prohibits the wearing of religious symbols and violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and

Whereas national civil rights groups including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, B’nai Brith Canada, the World Sikh Organization, the Canadian Bar Association, Amnesty International, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs have all opposed Bill 21; and

Whereas municipalities across Ontario including Mississauga, Brampton, the Peel regional council and Toronto have already passed motions condemning the legislation;

Therefore the Legislative Assembly calls on the government of Ontario to communicate its opposition to Bill 21 by formally requesting the Quebec government immediately repeal Bill 21 and by intervening in any Supreme Court challenge of Bill 21 that may be heard by the courts.


The organization Atheist Freethinkers has already responded to the above motion with a press release entitled “LPA-AFT denounces the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the Ontario legislature’s motion against Quebec Bill 21”. Suffice it to say here that Ms. Horwath’s motion indulges in gross exaggeration and misrepresentation of both the intent and scope of Bill 21, making assertions that have been refuted countless times already, both on this blog and elsewhere. Furthermore, it specifically targets legislation in another province and declares an intention to interfere with that province’s laws by means of a legal challenge. In addition, the motion expresses solidarity with some rather dubious organizations, in particular the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

But it gets worse. In her remarks made before the Ontario legislature in support of her motion, Ms. Horwath made a number of outrageous allegations. For example:

I believe that we in Ontario have to continue to stand up and speak out as Canadians against any form of discrimination, prejudice, racism and intolerance.…

No one should have to choose between their faith and their career. We all need to work together to fight Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and xenophobia wherever it happens and whenever and wherever we see it.

Affirming that Ontario values diversity…

…stand up and call out these kinds of discriminatory pieces of legislation and other acts of discrimination, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism.…


Ms. Horwath’s exaggerated statements vilify Quebec Bill 21, and indirectly the majority of Quebecers who support that very reasonable legislation, by associating it with discrimination and intolerance (Bill 21 is not discriminatory), by repeatedly evoking racism (Bill 21 has nothing to do with race), by using the nonsense term “Islamophobia” (which implies that criticizing a religion must be the result of a phobia, i.e. a mental illness). She and other participants in the debate on the motion also make liberal use of the fashionable buzzword “diversity” which is a form of virtue-signalling, so overused that it has lost much of its meaning. To use that word correctly, Bill 21 is secular legislation, and secularism is, among other things, a method of managing religious diversity, something of which the Ontario MPPs clearly have no understanding, or which they refuse to understand.

It does not stop there. You can, if you can stomach them, read the remarks of another ONDP MPP, Kevin Yarde, which are even more outrageous than those of Horwath. They basically amount to paranoia garnished with industrial quantities of whining about those poor religious victims “subjugate[d]” by “very barbaric” Bill 21.

The reality is that Bill 21 simply insists that State employees in position of authority be religiously neutral — in appearance, not just in their behaviour — while on the job. Why? In order to respect the freedom of conscience (which includes freedom of religion) of users of public services and students in public schools. This is eminently reasonable and helps protect freedoms, not threaten them. As I said in a talk at the Rationalist International conference in Cambridge, UK, last July:

For the State to be independent of religion and to show itself to be free of religious influence, both its physical installations and its human agents must be free of religious symbolism. Displaying a religious symbol on the wall of a State building or allowing a State employee to wear a visible religious symbol while on the job are both clear and obvious violations of religion-State separation. In either case, the religious symbol constitutes at the very least passive endorsement by the State of the religion being symbolized. An anti-religious or atheist symbol would also be unacceptable in both situations and for similar reasons.

Religion is, or should be, a private matter. When a religion practices exhibitionism, there is an obvious political purpose, a purpose which has no place in civic institutions.

When a public servant wears a religious symbol while on the job, they are saying that their religious affiliation is more important than their role as a representative of the State whose mandate is to serve the public. They are saying that their individual freedom of expression takes precedence over the freedom of conscience of the users and students whom they serve. This is backwards.

When the State bans the wearing of religious (or anti-religious) symbols by public servants while on the job, it is saying that it is committed to treating all citizens, all members of the public, equally and fairly, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. The State thus undertakes to respect the freedom of conscience of the users of public services and students in schools.

When a public servant refuses to comply with a ban on the wearing of religious symbols while on the job, they are saying that their religious practice is so fanatical, so fundamentalist, that they cannot even present a neutral facade when it is their duty to do so.


As for the Ontario NDP, they are guilty of abject clientelism. They have completely prostituted themselves to religious apologists, especially the most pious and fundamentalist, whose goal is to maintain and extend the considerable religious privileges which they already enjoy.

Abbreviations used in the above article:

  • MPP = Member of Provincial Parliament
  • NDP = New Democratic Party
    NPD = Nouveau parti démocratique
  • ONDP = Ontario New Democratic Party
  • RoC = Rest of Canada

Next blog: Three Examples of Cultural (Mis)Appropriation

Immigration, the Great Unmentionable


In this blog I summarize several observations about immigration in Quebec made by Jacques Houle, author of the book Disparaître ? (To Disappear?).

Français Une version française de ce blogue est disponible sous le titre L’immigration, cette question intouchable.

We all know (or should know) how regressive pseudoleftists gleefully use insults, vilification and outright slander to silence speech which they refuse to tolerate. This applies, in particular, to anyone who dares to address the subject of immigration. Anyone with such temerity can expect to be targeted in short order.

Well Jacques Houle, author of Disparaître ? Afflux migratoires et avenir du Québec (To Disappear? Waves of Migrants and the Future of Quebec), dares. In a recent article by columnist Mathieu Bock-Coté, entitled « La pénurie de main d’oeuvre est une fable » : entretien avec Jacques Houle (The labour shortage is a myth; Interview with Jacques Houle), he summarizes the situation. Here are his essential points:

  • There is no shortage of labour for quality jobs with good salaries. According to the Quebec Institute of Statistics, nearly a third of Quebec workers are overqualified for the jobs they hold. For college and university graduates, the overqualification rate reaches 40%.
  • The myth of a labour shortage is used to hide the reality that there is a problem recruiting persons to fill poor quality jobs, with low salaries or which are part-time or have non-standard hours. Furthermore, more than 60% of the labour shortage corresponds to wages of less than $15 per hour. The positions with the greatest shortage are: waiters, salespersons and cashiers, as well as various unskilled jobs. These are low-paid, insecure jobs which are of little interest to non-immigrants and former immigrants.
  • There is no real labour shortage in Quebec but rather many low-paid jobs with non-competitive working conditions which remain unfilled. The solution is not immigration, but rather increases in salary and better working conditions.
  • It is no surprise that the biggest proponents of mass immigration are (1) business owners who seek immigrant labourers who have no choice but to accept miserable salaires and (2) politicians with a broad propensity for electoral clientelism.
  • Administrators of higher educational institutions love foreign students for the simple reason that they pay much higher tuition.
  • Mass immigration benefits powerful lobbies who keep quiet about the enormous advantages they can expect from it.

In conclusion, J. Houle reminds us that the issue of immigration, which, like any important societal concern, should be part of normal democratic debate, is subject to what could be called “soft censorship” (« censure blanche ») and he concludes that some subjects of discussion are taboo.

And here are the conclusion which I draw: The identitarian and régressive pseudo-left, which is overwhelmingly obsessed with the question of race, which sees racism everywhere—whether it exists or not—and which imposes its opinions as if they were sacred religious dogma, poisons political discourse and prevents us from addressing subjects which we the public, electors and citizens, should be able to discuss openly and without censorship. The taboo against open debate about immigration mainly serves neoliberal financial interests, with whom pseudo-leftists are objectively allied.

Finally, we must not forget one aspect of this issue which was not mentioned in the interview: the use by the government of Canada of sizable immigration, especially in the Montreal region, with the purpose of overwhelming the francophone majority of Quebecers, in the medium and long term, in order to stifle the specificity of that majority. In particular, this use of immigration is an indirect and insidious way of fighting against Quebecers’ desire for State secularism.

Next blog: Ontario NDP: Still Crazy After All These Years

L’immigration, cette question intouchable


Je résume dans ce blogue quelques observations de Jacques Houle, auteur du livre Disparaître ? concernant l’immigration au Québec.

English An English-langage version of this blog is available, entitled Immigration, the Great Unmentionable.

Nous savons tous et toutes (ou du moins, nous devrions savoir) comment les pseudo-gauchistes emploient allègrement les injures, le dénigrement, voire la diffamation afin de faire taire les discours qu’ils refusent de tolérer. Cette constatation s’applique en particulier à quiconque ose aborder la question de l’immigration. Cet effronté sera rapidement ciblé.

Or, Jacques Houle, auteur du livre Disparaître ? Afflux migratoires et avenir du Québec, lui, ose. Dans un récent texte de Mathieu Bock-Coté, sous le titre « La pénurie de main d’oeuvre est une fable » : entretien avec Jacques Houle, il résume la situation. Voici l’essentiel :

  • Il n’y a pas de pénurie de main d’oeuvre pour les emplois de qualité, avec un salaire intéressant.
    «  Selon l’Institut de la Statistique du Québec, près du tiers des travailleurs québécois sont surdiplômés pour les emplois qu’ils occupent. Chez les diplômés de niveaux collégial et universitaire, le taux de surdiplômation en emploi atteint 40%.  »
  • « l’expression pénurie de main-d’œuvre sert à masquer les difficultés de recrutement systématique causées par des salaires trop bas, du temps partiel fréquent ou des horaires atypiques. D’ailleurs, plus de 60% des pénuries de main-d’œuvre ont comme point commun de payer des salaires inférieurs à 15$ de l’heure. Les trois professions en pénurie au Québec sont : serveurs et serveuses, vendeurs et vendeuses, caissiers et caissières auxquelles il faut ajouter pour faire bonne mesure, les manœuvres de tout genre. » Il s’agit d’« emplois précaires à bas salaires que ne veulent plus les natifs ainsi que les immigrants plus anciens. »
  • « il n’y a pas au Québec de pénuries de main-d’œuvre, mais uniquement des postes vacants de façon persistante en raison de salaires trop bas et d’autres conditions de travail non compétitives. La solution n’est donc pas plus d’immigrants, mais de meilleures conditions de travail,… »
  • Les partisans les plus acharnés de l’immigration massive sont, « sans surprise, les patrons d’entreprises à la recherche de main-d’œuvre immigrée contrainte d’accepter des salaires de misère et les politiciens qui pratiquent un clientélisme électoral tous azimuts. »
  • « le secteur de l’enseignement supérieur veut plus d’étudiants étrangers parce qu’ils rapportent plus d’argent! »
  • « l’immigration de masse profite à de puissants lobbys qui se gardent bien de divulguer les énormes avantages qu’ils en retirent »

Finalement, J. Houle nous rappelle que la question d’immigration qui, comme toute question de société importante, devrait faire partie du débat démocratique, est l’objet d’une « censure blanche » et il en tire la conclusion « qu’il y a des sujets tabous… »

Voici les conclusions que, moi, j’en tire : La pseudo-gauche identitaire et régressive, absolument obsédée par la race, qui voit le racisme partout — que ce dernier existe ou non —, et qui impose ses opinions comme des dogmes religieux inattaquables, nous empoisonne la vie et nous empêche d’aborder les sujets dont nous, le public, les électeurs et électrices, citoyens et citoyennes, devons discuter ouvertement et sans censure. Ce tabou contre le débat ouvert au sujet de l’immigration sert principalement des intérêts financiers néolibéraux, dont les pseudo-gauchistes sont les alliés objectifs.

Finalement, il ne faut pas oublier un aspect de cette question qui n’est pas mentionné dans cet entretien : l’utilisation par le gouvernement du Canada d’une immigration nombreuse, surtout dans la région montréalaise, dans le but de noyer la majorité francophone québécoise à moyen ou à long terme, afin d’étouffer la spécificité de cette majorité. En particulier, c’est une façon indirecte et insidieuse de contrer la volonté des Québécois d’avoir un État laïque.

Prochain blogue : Immigration, the Great Unmentionable

English Canada Continues its Hysterical Opposition to Quebec Bill 21


Three recent examples of the insanity of Canadian anti-secularists.

Sommaire en français Trois exemples récents de la folie des antilaïques canadiens.

There is no lack of examples of irrational reactions from the Rest-of-Canada (ROC) against Quebec Bill 21 (“An Act respecting the laicity of the State”). Here are three particularly egregious ones.

  1. Mayor Naheed Nenshi of Calgary:
    Calgary city council recently voted unanimously to denounce Quebec’s Bill 21. Why? Mayor Nenshi explains:
    “We stand up for human rights and for dignity and we cannot believe that we live in a country where provinces passed a law where you have to choose between your faith and your job. The second reason is actually an incredible encroachment on municipalities. The government is telling cities in Quebec who they can hire, and they can’t hire the best people.”
    This quote is from the CBC Radio programme Because News, 2019-10-12, starting at about 9 min 20 sec. His declaration was followed by the obligatory applause from the other panelists.
    Mayor Nenshi’s statement contains at least three blatant falsehoods:
    • He implies that his city’s opposition is based on respect for “human rights.” This is nonsense. Their opposition goes against human rights by violating the human rights of users of public services and students in public schools. Their opposition is based on support for religious privilege, i.e. the privilege of religious believers to engage in religious advertising and passive proselytism while on the job in positions of authority in the public service.
    • Nenshi claims that Bill 21 forces people to “choose between your faith and your job.” No, it does not. It requires that State employees in some positions remove any religious symbols while on the job, just as a long-standing Quebec law requires that partisan political symbols not be worn on the job.
    • Nenshi claims that Bill 21 is “telling cities in Quebec who they can hire.” False. It simply requires that anyone hired to a position of authority abide by the simple rule of not engaging in religious advertising while on the job.
  2. The Globe and Mail editorial of October 28th 2019:
    I have already written about this odious screed in the blog “The Virulence of the Globe & Mail” published on the website of Atheist Freethinkers. The editorial contains several whoppers, perhaps the worst of which is its outrageous assertion that “The federal government is secular…”
  3. The Ontario legislature at Queen’s Park, Toronto:
    On November 7th 2019, the Ontario legislature unanimously adopted a motion, put forward by MPP Michael Coteau, which “reaffirms our support for diversity & our commitment that we would never introduce a law, like Bill 21, that would seek to limit or restrict religious freedoms.” The legislature thus jumps on the bandwagon, displaying a total—and probably voluntary—incomprehension of Bill 21, stupidly calling it a restriction on religious freedom when in reality it restricts only religious privilege, while helping to protect the freedom of conscience of citizens. The unanimous vote is an indicator of the totalitarian nature of the campaign against Bill 21. No dissent will be tolerated. Evidently Ontario MPPs do not care that the bill was adopted by the democratically elected government of Quebec and that it is widely supported by the population. Could they perhaps mind their own business? When was the last time the Quebec government passed a motion condemning an Ontario law, other than criticism of mistreatment of Franco-Ontarians?

All three instances described above are examples of cowardly conformism and opportunism. It is politically expedient to bash Quebec by misrepresenting and vilifying progressive legislation adopted by that province. By doing so, Mayor Nenshi, already a darling of the political and media elites because he has declared himself Muslim, ingratiates himself even further, while he throws secular Muslims who support Bill 21 under the bus. The Globe & Mail rides a wave of anti-secular hysteria which it has itself been a leader in creating. Meanwhile, MPP Michael Coteau hopes to capitalize on anti-secular panic as part of his strategy to achieve the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Ironically, polls show that almost 40% of Canadians outside Québec support Bill 21 whereas that figure is greater when all of Canada (i.e. with Quebec) is included. Evidently, ordinary Canadians are more enlightened than their mainstream political and media leaders.

Next blog: L’immigration, cette question intouchable

Two Questions About Bill 21


My responses to two questions, asked by a media studies student, about Bill 21.

Sommaire en français Mes réponses à deux questions, posées par un étudiant en médias, à propos de la Loi 21

As president of Libres penseurs athéesAtheist Freethinkers, I recently received an email from a university student in Toronto, asking two questions about Quebec’s secularism legislation, Bill 21. Both questions are a bit bizarre, perhaps resembling assertions more than questions. The second question is particularly tendentious and sounds almost like an accusation. The person asking the question seems to be declaring that Bill 21 somehow threatens freedoms, which is of course part of standard anti-secular propaganda. In reality, Bill 21 does the opposite: i.e. it extends freedom by protecting (partially at least) the freedom of conscience of users of public services and students in public schools.

However, in my replies which I sent to the student, I did not bother with such subtleties. I did not attempt to read between the lines or intuit the mental state of the questioner. I simply took the questions at face value and answered them directly. Below are my replies.

Question 1. Do you believe Bill 21 makes so much of an impact on Quebecers?

Bill 21 has had an enormous impact on Quebecers because it is legislation which responds to the desire of the majority of the population, and it was achieved with great difficulty and required great determination. The reaction from Canada outside Quebec (and from some inside Quebec) has been extremely hostile and irrational. Bill 21 is very moderate and positive legislation. Yet supporters of Bill 21, including the majority of French-speaking Quebecers, have been slandered and vilified by opponents of the legislation who are either too lazy or too closed-minded to even attempt to understand it.

Religious symbols are banned in public services and/or schools in France and in parts of Switzerland, Belgium and Germany. Face-coverings, including the full Islamic veil, are banned in many European and African countries, including some Muslim-majority countries. Quebec’s Bill 21 is neither exceptional nor unreasonable.

Quebecers are justifiably proud of themselves and their government for having stood firm against the overwhelming hostility of anti-secularists. The recent surge in popularity of the Bloc Québécois, as shown by results of the October 21st federal election, is due largely to the Bloc’s support for secularism.

Question 2. How have the Atheist Freethinkers taken action to ensure freedoms can be maintained?

What we have done, and continue to do, is to support Bill 21 actively and to promote extending it further. Bill 21 promotes human rights and freedoms by removing some partisan religious symbols from public services and schools. It would be even better if it were extended to ALL public servants, not just those in positions of authority. Banning religious symbols for public employees on the job is a small, reasonable restriction on those employees (which only applies when they are on the job) which has a positive benefit for all users and students because it provides them with an environment free of religious advertising and passive proselytizing. It is not enough to remove religious symbols from the walls; they must be removed from State employees too.

We at Atheist Freethinkers participate in a coalition called the Rassemblement pour la laïcité (RPL). See, for example, the page Press Conference RPL, 2019-05-06 about the RPL’s press conference a few months ago.

Here is some suggested reading:

Next blog: English Canada Continues its Hysterical Opposition to Quebec Bill 21