English Canada Continues its Hysterical Opposition to Quebec Bill 21

2019-11-18

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

2019-10-31

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

Le juge Yergeau reconnaît que la Loi sur la laïcité ne fomente pas la haine

La Loi 21 remporte la première bataille devant les tribunaux

2019-07-21, mise à jour le 2019-07-22

La Loi 21 du Québec vient de gagner sa première bataille devant les tribunaux. De plus, dans sa décision, le juge rejette la prétention malhonnête des antilaïques que cette législation serait, selon eux, une cause de haine contre les minorités religieuses.

Summary in English Quebec Bill 21 has won its first battle before the courts. Furthermore, the judge’s decision rejects the idea, dishonestly promoted by antisecularists, that Bill 21 somehow foments prejudices against religious minorities.

La Loi 21, Loi sur la laïcité de l’État, vient de remporter la première bataille devant les tribunaux. De plus le juge a reconnu dans sa décision que cette loi ne fomente pas la haine dont ses ennemis l’accusent. Au contraire, le but de cette législation serait plutôt d’apaiser de tels sentiments.

Le 18 juillet 2019, le juge Michel Yergeau a rendu sa décision dans une cause contestant la Loi 21 adoptée le 16 juin dernier par le gouvernement du Québec. Le Conseil national des musulmans canadiens (CNMC), l’Association canadienne des libertés civiles (ACLC) et Ichrak Nourel Hak, une étudiante en éducation, s’étaient adressés à la Cour supérieure pour demander la suspension des articles 6 et 8 portant sur le port de signes religieux avant qu’un tribunal se penche sur la validité de la Loi. Dans le jugement, la demande de suspension est rejetée. En voici quelques extraits :

[116] La lecture attentive de ces déclarations [des demanderesses] sous serment, qui dans l’ensemble sont de la nature de l’opinion, pour nombre d’entre elles sont purement hypothétiques et souvent spéculatives, amène le Tribunal à conclure que les demanderesses n’ont pas démontré, comme il leur revenait de le faire, de dommages sérieux ou irréparables à l’étape de la demande d’injonction interlocutoire provisoire.

[136] Dans les circonstances, les demanderesses ont échoué à démontrer qu’il serait à l’avantage de l’intérêt commun de donner priorité à leurs préoccupations au détriment de la Loi qui a été validement adoptée.

[137] … les demanderesses ne répondent pas non plus au critère de l’urgence requis dans le cadre d’une demande d’injonction interlocutoire provisoire. …

C’est évidemment une excellente nouvelle, même si ce n’est que la première étape d’un processus qui risque d’être long. Il faut attendre la suite de l’affaire.

Il y a un aspect de la décision du juge Michel Yergeau que je trouve particulièrement pertinent :

[117] Essentiellement, ces déclarations reviennent à plaider la discrimination sur la base des pratiques religieuses auxquelles les déclarant(e)s assermenté(e)s ont choisi librement d’adhérer. Les regards hostiles que certains membres de la société civile porteraient sur eux et les paroles blessantes dont deux des déclarantes disent avoir été victimes ne sont pas le résultat de l’adoption de la Loi, compte tenu du peu de temps écoulé entre celle-ci et la signification de la demande introductive, mais sont le fait de déplorables dérives et d’une incivilité que la Loi cherche aussi à endiguer. Que certains dans la société se sentent affranchis aujourd’hui de clamer leurs préjugés plutôt que de les endiguer n’a pas pour origine la Loi sur la laïcité.

Ainsi, le juge dit clairement que, s’il existe dans la société québécoise des préjugés ou des comportements blessants à l’égard de certaines minorités religieuses, ce n’est pas le résultat de Loi 21. Au contraire, un des buts de cette Loi est justement d’endiguer de tels comportements !

Nous voilà devant une des plus ignobles stratégies utilisées par les ennemis de la laïcité afin de dénigrer et diffamer les gens (comme moi) qui appuient la laïcité : Ces ennemis nous accusent de promouvoir la haine de certaines minorités, d’attiser les animosités. Ils nous accusent de « racisme » et de bien d’autres péchés qu’ils imaginent. C’est de la poudre aux yeux, et le juge Yergeau a eu la perspicacité de rejeter cette foutaise dans le cas de la Loi 21 : en effet, cette Loi devrait améliorer la situation et réduire les tensions sociales, tout comme nous, les appuyeurs de cette législation, le disons et le souhaitons depuis belle lurette.


Next blog: Summary: The Islamist Veil

A Reading List on Quebec Bill 21

Quelques lectures au sujet de la Loi 21 du Québec

2019-07-13, updated 2020-04-09

In EnglishEn français
The Bill itself, adopted 2019-06-16: Texte de la loi, adoptée le 2019-06-16 :
Court Challenges to Bill 21, legal documents.
  • Supreme Court of Canada, JUDGMENTS IN LEAVE APPLICATIONS, 2020-04-09, I. N. Hak, NCCM and CCLA v. A. G. of Québec, “The application for leave to appeal from the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Quebec (Montréal), Number 500-09-028470-193, 2019 QCCA 2145, dated December 12, 2019, is dismissed.”
Contestations de la Loi 21, documents légaux :
Previously existing legislation which imposes political neutrality on public servants:
Public Service Act, articles 10, 11 and 12.
Législation préalable qui exige la neutralité politique chez les fonctionnaires :
Loi sur la fonction publique, articles 10, 11 et 12.
On this website (my blog):  
On the AFT website: Sur le site LPA :
On other websites: Sur d’autres sites :

Next blog: Le juge Yergeau reconnaît que la Loi sur la laïcité ne fomente pas la haine

Le crucifix enfin retiré !

2019-07-09

Aujourd’hui, le 9 juillet 2019, le crucifix accroché au mur du Salon bleu de l’Assemblée nationale à Québec a enfin été retiré !

Today, 9th July 2019, that notorious crucifix on the wall of the legislative chamber of the National Assembly in Quebec City was finally withdrawn!

Photos : Le crucifix retiré du Salon bleu de l’Assemblée nationale, Journal de Québec, 2019-07-09.

Avant, pendant et après
Cliquer pour agrandir
Avant, pendant et après le retrait du crucifix


Next blog: A Reading List on Quebec Bill 21

Quebec Formally Declares State Secularism

2019-06-22

This blog has already been published on the website of Atheist Freethinkers. However, the subject—the adoption of Quebec’s Bill 21—is such a major and historic event that I am republishing the blog here.

Sommaire en français Ce blogue est disponible sur les site de Libres penseurs athées sous le titre Le Québec se déclare formellement laïque.

The 16th of June 2019: An historic day for Quebec and a great victory for secularism and democracy: the National Assembly adopts Bill 21, “An Act respecting the laicity of the State.” Despite its weaknesses and shortcomings, in particular in matters of taxation, this Bill formally declares Quebec to be a secular State and enshrines that secularism in the Charter.

The opposition whined about the fact that the CAQ government used closure to cut the debate short in order to have the bill adopted more quickly. However, closure is a parliamentary tool which has been used many times by various governments. It would have been a waste of time to allow the so-called “debate” to continue. That “debate” consisted basically of the opposition repeating ad nauseam the same fallacious (and sometimes toxic and hysterical) arguments, the same gratuitous accusations against the government and the same expressions of contempt for the population which massively supports the Bill.

Just before its adoption, several amendments were made to the draft legislation:

  • A simple, clear definition of religious symbols: “A religious symbol, within the meaning of this section, is any object, including clothing, a symbol, jewellery, an adornment, an accessory or headwear that:
    1. is worn in connection with a religious conviction or belief; or
    2. is reasonably considered as referring to a religious affiliation.”
  • Measures to monitor the application of the law and to respond to instances of noncompliance if any.
  • The declaration of a new right: “State laicity also requires that all persons have the right to lay parliamentary, government and judicial institutions, and to lay public services…”
a crucially important right […] the right to secular public services provided by State institutions.

Each of these three amendments constitutes an improvement and an enhancement of the law. The first adds clarity. The second is necessary because a law which fails to provide any means of monitoring or enforcement is ineffectual. But it is the third amendment which is most significant because it grants citizens a means of asserting a crucially important right that is rarely recognized: the right to secular public services provided by State institutions. This provision corrects, in part at least, the problem caused by the bill’s so-called “grandfather” clause which would allow any employee hired before the draft legislation’s publication date to keep their religious symbols. The parents of a pupil whose teacher wears a religious symbol may now require that the school provide their child an environment free of such symbols.

Opponents of the legislation have frequently and falsely accused it of violating rights. On the contrary, Bill 21 withdraws certain religious privileges—the privilege of being allowed to promote one’s ideology in the public service—and it protects and extends rights in at least two ways. Firstly, by banning religious symbols worn by public servants in positions of authority, it helps to protect the freedom of conscience of users and pupils. Secondly, this amendment enhances rights by adding a right to secular services, free of religious interference.

This law is therefore particularly important and beneficial for daughters of Muslim parents because it offers these girls the possibility of greater autonomy from their religious community.

The main beneficiaries of this law are schoolchildren and Muslim women. Schoolchildren benefit because they will be better protected by a school system with fewer religious displays. Muslim women benefit because it will help them resist the pressure to wear the veil, pressure imposed by Islamists who weaponize the veil for their own political purposes. This law is therefore particularly important and beneficial for daughters of Muslim parents because it offers these girls the possibility of greater autonomy from their religious community.

But this law will be good for everyone (except, of course, for fundamentalists) because it will help to protect the freedom of conscience of each and every person, whether female or male, child or adult, regardless of their religious convictions. The amendment which stipulates that every person has a right to secular public services is an explicit guarantee of that protection.

There are of course a certain number of Muslim women who noisily declare their determination to continue wearing the veil at all costs, their opposition to Bill 21 and their hatred for the government and the nation that adopted it, but they are far from being in the majority. These veiled women, in collaboration with antisecularists (who hide behind the euphemism “multiculturalism”), constitute objective allies of the fundamentalist Islamist extreme right.

Challenges to Bill 21 began immediately after its adoption. This is in no way surprising. We know whom we are dealing with. A veiled student, Ichrak Nourel Hak, launched a suite against the law, supported by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). These are the same two associations which attacked the only provision of Bill 62 (adopted by the previous Liberal government of P. Couillard) which had any semblance of merit, its article 10 banning face-coverings in the public service.

As Loïc Tassé so justly observed in the pages of the Journal de Montréal, the controversy surrounding secularism is a conflict between democracy and religious fundamentalism. This battle is being waged before the courts, among other battlegrounds. As Fatima Houda-Pepin observes, we are living in the era of judicial jihad. This is an ideological battle being waged inside western democracies.

The most positive and promising aspect of Bill 21 is arguably its formal declaration that the Quebec State is secular and the enshrining of this principle in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. This provision constitutes a powerful legislative tool which will facilitate the continued secularization of the State in future. It is important, for example, that the Ethics and Religious Culture programme—or at least its “religious culture” part— be withdrawn from Quebec schools because it indoctrinates pupils by presenting a sugar-coated and communitarian vision of religions. All faculties of theology must be withdrawn from publicly funded universities and all so-called “religious studies” programmes must be subjected to review. It is also important to extend the ban on religious symbols to private schools, childcare centres and finally to the entire public service.

But the issue which is undoubtedly of the highest priority, completely forgotten in Bill 21 which does not even mention it, is the tax system, i.e. the fiscal advantages and privileges which religious institutions have enjoyed for so long. Precise figures are difficult to obtain, but the cost to the taxpayer probably amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars for Quebec alone. The problem stems mainly from the fact that Quebec accepts the federal definition of a charity which includes as one of its criteria the advancement of religion. The daily newspaper Le Devoir recently published an important series of articles on this topic. The organization Pour les droits de femmes du Québec (PDF-Q, For the Rights of Quebec Women) which, like us at AFT, participates in the Alliance for Secularism, addressed the issue of a complete revision of the tax system which currently favours religions when it appeared before the parliamentary committee of the National Assembly studying Draft Bill 21.

In the months and years to come, secular activists must give very high priority to this issue of tax privileges granted to religions. The adoption of Bill 21 provides us with an excellent opening to do just that.

As for the hypocrites who call themselves “secularists” but who oppose Bill 21, they must now make a choice between two diverging paths: either they continue their alliance with the religious far-right, or they instead choose democracy, modernity and secularism.


Note: I thank François Côté for his very useful comments, displayed on Facebook, concerning the legal implications of the amendment on the right to secular public services.


Next blog: Le crucifix enfin retiré !

Le Québec est laïque !

2019-06-17

Une date historique et une grande victoire ! Le 16 juin 2019 L’Assemblée nationale a adopté la Loi 21 Loi sur la laïcité de l’État Le Québec est devenu un État laïque !

Communiqué du Rassemblement pour la laïcité, 2019-06-17 : Enfin la laïcité !

An Historic Date and a Great Victory! 16th June 2019 The National Assembly Adopts Bill 21 An Act respecting the laicity of the State Quebec Becomes a Secular State!

Next blog: Quebec Formally Declares State Secularism

Quebec Bill 21 Causes Earthquakes, Anal Warts and the Collapse of Civilisation

2019-05-21

In this blog I present a sampling of articles in which opponents of Quebec Draft Bill 21 make outrageous claims as they attempt to rationalize their irrational opposition to the Bill.

Sommaire en français Dans ce blogue je présente un échantillon de plusieurs articles dans lesquels des opposants au projet de loi 21 du Québec font des déclarations extravagantes dans le but de rationaliser leur opposition irrationnelle à cette législation.

Given their lack of any plausible line of reasoning, antisecularists, in their vituperations against Quebec Draft Bill 21, have a strong tendency toward dishonesty, irresponsible speculation and sometimes complete nonsense. Here are a few examples.

  • The Ignoble Prize for Hyperbole goes to William Steinberg, mayor of the Montreal suburb of Hampstead, who accused Bill 21 of promoting “ethnic cleansing.” He subsequently qualified his remark by stating that he was talking about “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” not by direct violence. Either way, this outrageous claim is an extreme example of the defamatory behaviour of many opponents of the Bill.
  • The Ignoble Prize for Dogmatism goes to the Conseil québécois LGBT (Quebec LGBT Council) for its May 10th declaration « Des organismes LGBT dénoncent le projet de loi 21 » (“LGBT Organizations Denounce Draft Bill 21”) which (1) falsely accuses the Bill of being discriminatory, (2) repeats the slander linking the Bill to anti-Muslim violence and (3) laments the legislation’s restrictions on face-coverings which are “obviously aimed at veiled Muslim women and thus contribute to the stigmatisation of a population already hyper-marginalized.” In other words, the Council completely ignores the fact that fundamentalist Islam promotes death for gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities and instead chooses to express its solidarity with fundamentalist Islam’s favourite propaganda ploy, promotion of the veil, even the face-covering niqab. Why? Because unconditional defense of fundamentalist Muslims (while throwing secular Muslims under the bus) is part of the regressive pseudo-left dogma to which the Council evidently adheres.
  • The Ignoble Prize for Hypocrisy goes to CFI Canada (CFIC), an organization which claims to support secularism and critical thought but which abandons both in its attitude towards Bill 21. I discussed CFIC’s betrayal of its espoused principles in a previous blog.
  • The Ignoble Prize for Pseudoscience goes to McGill University psychiatric residents Sara Hanifi and Salam El-Malouf and many cosigners for their April 26th article which alleges that Bill 21 will negatively affect Quebecers’ health! They associate the Bill with “exclusion,” “hateful and racist speech” and “interpersonal and systemic discrimination” no less. Their discourse is replete with the familiar specious vocabulary (including the notorious “Islamophobia”) of the regressive pseudo-left which racializes religion and thus enables religious privilege. Their entire thesis is based on the false assertion that the Bill is discriminatory—a house of cards which crumbles on first inspection. Columnist Denise Bombardier qualified these psychiatrists’ theory as paranoid ravings. I basically agree, although I consider their nonsense to be more ideological than paranoid.
  • Coren […] fails to distinguish the public sphere (which is totally unaffected by Bill 21) from the civil sphere […]

  • In Maclean’s Magazine, Michael Coren has a cow over Bill 21 in his article “Quebec’s proposed secularism law is repugnant. Here are six reasons why.” Coren repeats the old canard about “discrimination” against Muslims, slanders Quebecers with the extremely tendentious and unacceptable term “Islamophobia.” He dismisses the Bill as populism, confuses religious neutrality with secularism (the latter extends the former greatly) and fails to distinguish the public sphere (which is totally unaffected by Bill 21) from the civil sphere (i.e. State institutions, where the Bill does apply, but only to some employees). What is repugnant here is Coren’s pro-religion prejudice.
  • Dan Bilefsky recycles old anti-Quebec clichés in his New York Times article “Quebec Proposes Bill Barring Public Employees From Wearing Head Scarves at Work.” The article greatly emphasizes declarations against the Bill and repeats several of Coren’s tactics, including use of “Islamophobia.” Even worse, Bilefsky links the Bill with mosque shootings in Quebec City and Christchurch, thus implying that the Bill would somehow increase the probability of such attacks. Such speculation is irresponsible. In fact, the exact opposite argument is more plausible: by taking action to reduce religious interference in State institutions, the proposed Bill would favour social harmony and reduce the danger of such violence.
  • […] by taking action to reduce religious interference in State institutions, the proposed Bill would favour social harmony and reduce the danger of such violence.

  • Montreal Gazette columnist Don Macpherson tries to ridicule the Bill in his article “The CAQ anti-hijab bill, worse than useless” but succeeds mainly in displaying his total ignorance of secularism. He maintains that the Bill “would weaken Quebec’s own charter of rights” when in reality it would significantly strengthen and improve Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms by inscribing “laïcité” into it, thus ensuring that future legislation would respect (1) the equality of all citizen—including male-female equality, (2) the freedom of conscience of all citizens, (3) religious neutrality and, most importantly, (4) separation between religion and State, i.e. State autonomy with respect to religions.

Antidotes to Antisecular Misinformation

The above list is only a small sampling of the wide variety of inanity and insanity which can be found in the media opposing Draft Bill 21. As an antidote, I urge you to read the article “Quebec’s Secularism Bill” in which author Luis Granados expeditiously cuts through the bullshit of the Bill’s opponents. A sample:

The ban covers all religions, including Quebec’s majority Christian population. No more crucifix pendants. No more yarmulkes. No more hijabs. No Satanic Temple t-shirts, should anyone be so inclined. Government employees get paid to do a job for the taxpayers, period. Advertising for the God industry has no place in the doing of that job, any more than advertising for a political candidate would. Employees are free to promote whatever they like on their own time, but not while they are officially representing the government. […]

Some are even threatening civil disobedience, because the laws of God should apparently trump those of mere humans. What should matter most here is not what the employees want, but what the “customers” want—given the customers are children whose minds are being shaped by those in authority. […] Children deserve to be educated in a neutral environment. They don’t need teachers putting up signs saying “Jesus is the Answer”—or wearing clothing that says the same thing. They don’t need teachers wearing a cap boasting that “I’m one of God’s chosen people, and you’re not.” They don’t need teachers silently communicating that women should be ashamed of their bodies—or the equally disgusting message that men are incapable of controlling themselves if they are sexually distracted by seeing the top of a woman’s head.

Finally, some logic and common sense about secularism from an English-language publication—a rare thing indeed.

Here is another reality-check. Consider the fact that article 22(4) of Quebec’s Loi sur l’instruction publique (Education Act) stipulates:

“A teacher shall act in a just and impartial manner in his dealings with his students;”

How can a teacher be impartial while he or she constantly displays an obvious symbol of a particular religion when on the job, interacting with pupils in the classroom throughout the schoolday? The ban on religious symbols which Draft Bill 21 proposes is a simple application of the above stipulation. Even if you continue to oppose the ban, at least be honest in your opposition and avoid gratuitous accusations. It is patently outrageous to assert that Bill 21 is xenophobic or worse.

I leave the final word to columnist Mathieu Bock-Coté who, in an article entitled « La laïcité vue d’Europe » (“Secularism Seen from Europe”) writes:

“From a European perspective, Draft Bill 21 appears terribly minimalist, almost insignificant. Every time I explain the Bill to people in France, whether they are on the political left, right or elsewhere, they wonder how something so elementary could cause such scandal. When I talk about the accusations of racism directed at Quebec for something so minor, they sincerely struggle to believe it.”


Next blog: Le Québec est laïque !

Six Pseudo-Arguments of Antisecularists

2019-05-20

In this blog I summarize six fallacies used by antisecularists as “arguments” against Quebec’s Draft Bill 21.

Sommaire en français Dans le présent blogue je résume six sophismes qu’utilisent les anti-laïques comme « arguments » contre le projet de loi 21 au Québec.

Antisecularists who oppose Quebec’s Draft Bill 21 have no valid arguments to make, or at least none that I have ever heard. Their attacks on the proposed legislation can basically be summarized in the following six pseudo-arguments:

  1. Absolute Rights: By considering the rights of public servants and teachers to be absolute, while simultaneously ignoring completely the freedom of conscience of users of public services and students of public schools, i.e. their right to a environment free of partisan religious advertising, opponents of Bill 21 claim to be defending freedom but instead threaten it by granting a huge religious privilege to wearers of symbols.
  2. Absolute Libertarianism: “Don’t tell women (or people) what to wear (or what not to wear)” is a common mantra of antisecularists. This fallacy is an expression of right-wing libertarianism on steroids and is reminiscent of the mentality of opponents of gun control. Firstly, Bill 21 bans only religious symbols (and not even for all State employees) and does so for excellent reasons, i.e. religious neutrality and to protect users and students. Secondly, to reject any and all bans would mean the end of uniforms and would imply chaos even among non-uniformed employees. What would you think if your child’s teacher began showing up for work every day wearing a bikini, or a hazmat suit, or clothing covered with ads for fast food restaurants? And thirdly, dress codes—sometimes written, sometimes unwritten—are commonplace in society, even ubiquitous, and some restrictions, such as bans on political or religious symbols in certain contexts, are eminently reasonable.
  3. The opponents of the Bill never hold religious believers responsible for their own practices and beliefs; instead, antisecularists hold the State responsible for accommodating those practices and beliefs. This is obviously backwards.

  4. Deresponsibilizing Believers: The opponents of the Bill never hold religious believers responsible for their own practices and beliefs; instead, antisecularists hold the State responsible for accommodating those practices and beliefs. This is obviously backwards. The believers are the ones who make such choices and are therefore responsible for any consequences. If a person chooses to wear an ostentatious religious (or political) symbol at all times and refuses to remove it even while on the job in the public service, then it is that person who excludes himself or herself from that job. The State excludes no-one; rather, it only excludes partisan displays.
  5. Accusations of Discrimination: Opponents allege that the Bill discriminates against religious believers (especially minorities) and threatens religious freedom. This is false. The Bill does not target any group of persons; rather, it restricts certain behaviour, i.e. religious advertising by public servants. This is a small and reasonable restriction on freedom of expression, such as the restriction which already exists banning partisan political symbols worn by public servants (articles 10 and 11 of the Public Service Act), in order to protect the rights of users and students. A corollary of this pseudo-argument is the claim by some that there will be a massive exodus of people, especially religious minorities, from Quebec. This is a form of blackmail, as well as being alarmist nonsense. Many members of religious minorities, including Muslims, moved to Quebec because of its penchant for secularism and they support Bill 21. The vast majority of people concerned will undoubtedly comply with the law, regardless of their views. There may very well be a tiny number of religious fanatics who leave the province (probably very noisily, for maximum effect) and to them I say, Good Riddance.
  6. Accusations of Anti-Muslim Prejudice: Given that proponents of political Islam (with help from their sadly numerous dupes) are particularly aggressive in promoting wearing of the Islamic veil anywhere and everywhere in order to advertise their brand, radical Muslims, by their own actions, are a centre of attention in this debate. Opponents of Bill 21 thus claim “discrimination” against Muslims in particular when the reality is a campaign of religious exhibitionism by an extremely vocal subgroup of Muslims. Bill 21 does not discriminate against any particular religion; it applies to all.
  7. Defamation: When all else fails (as it inevitably does), opponents of Bill 21 fall back on slander, defaming supporters of the Bill with gratuitous accusation of “xenophobia” or “racism” or other, even worse sins.

[…] a law dealing with State secularism, a law which, all thing considered, is very moderate.

Given their lack of any plausible line of reasoning, antisecularists, in their vituperations, have a strong tendency towards dishonesty, irresponsible speculation and sometimes complete nonsense. Their behaviour is increasingly toxic. And on that disturbing note, I would like to conclude by quoting Pierre Allard, award-winning career journalist:

The debate about secularism has taken an unhealthy turn these days. […] black clouds are piling up on Quebec’s democratic horizon. I did not vote for the CAQ and undoubtedly never will, but the Legault government was elected. It has proposed a law dealing with State secularism, a law which, all thing considered, is very moderate. That government is confronted by a barrage of (minority) opponents who use extremist rhetoric and who, for no valid reason, question the legitimacy of a majority which governs without excess. This should worry us.


Next blog: Quebec Bill 21 Causes Earthquakes, Anal Warts and the Collapse of Civilisation

CFI Canada Rejects Secularism—Again

…and lends its support to religious fanatics

2019-05-07 Last modified: 2019-05-13

Once again, by opposing Quebec’s Draft Bill 21, CFI Canada rejects the very secularism which it claims to espouse. But this time it’s worse: CFIC is now indulging in odious slander copied from secularism’s worst ennemies.

Sommaire en français Sans suprise, CFI Canada exprime son rejet de la laïcité telle que formulée dans le projet de loi 21 au Québec. Mais cette fois, c’est pire, car cette organisation reprend le langage diffamatoire utilisé par les pires ennemis du la laïcité.

The Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFI Canada or CFIC) is an organization which pretends to support secularism, which it even claims as one of its “core areas of focus.” And yet, CFIC opposes secularism in the very place—Quebec—where the most significant progress toward that goal is being made.

We saw this behaviour of CFIC back in 2013 when that organization threw Quebec secularists under the bus by taking a position against the Charter of Secularism proposed by the government of the time. CFIC’s betrayal then was bad enough. But now, in 2019, it has repeated this shameful act in an even worse way.

In an article which was sent out by email and which appears on CFIC’s website, the organization not only fails to support Quebec Draft Bill 21, “An Act respecting the laicity of the State,” it denigrates that proposed legislation using language which is copied directly from anti-secular dogma and inspired by far-right Islamist propaganda.

Although the article never mentions Draft Bill 21 explicitly, it is clearly the target of disapproval. Also, the language of the article suggests the initiation of a debate, but it is obvious that rejection of Bill 21 is the foregone conclusion.

The CFIC article opposes secularism with a combination of misunderstanding, misinformation, and dishonesty. For example:

  • The article’s definition of “secularism” is limited to mere religious neutrality, thus failing to include religion-state separation. In other words, it is not full secularism.
  • The article fails to distinguish between public and civic spaces, falsely claiming that the Quebec law suppresses religious expression in the public space.
  • The article suggests that the legislation is “racist (or at least xenophobic).” Thus the article conflates race and religion, just like regressive pseudo-leftists, parliamentary motion M-103 and Islamists.
  • The article even suggests that Bill 21 is “just an implementation of ‘cultural Christianity’” which is a completely nonsensical assertion.

As a friend of mine expressed it on Facebook, “In an unsigned diatribe, CFI Canada, again, uses the standard arguments and half-truths of the regressive left to spew the usual vacuous accusations of xenophobia and racism against Quebec’s laicity. Lame, dishonest and disheartening.”

So what exactly does this horrible Bill 21 propose?

  1. It includes a comprehensive definition of secularism, including the all-important principle of separation between religion and State (the principle which is missing from CFIC’s article). Excellent!
  2. It stipulates that an official declaration of State secularism be inscribed in the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Excellent!
  3. It bans public servants on duty in positions of authority, including schoolteachers, from wearing obvious religious symbols while on the job. This is incomplete—the ban should apply to the all civil servants—but a very good start.
  4. It restricts the wearing of face-coverings by public servants on duty and by users of public services. Again, very good!

Rejecting the first two points means rejecting secularism. Rejecting the third point means giving higher priority to religious exhibitionism than to the freedom of conscience of users and students. Rejecting the fourth point means compromising security and communication. Rejecting the third and fourth points means allowing religious fanatics free reign in civic institutions.

Any person who always, without exception, wears an obvious symbol of religious affiliation when leaving home is probably a religious fanatic. If that person refuses to remove the symbol even while working as a public servant, then he or she is certainly a religious fanatic and fundamentalist. Quebec’s Bill 21 would put a small but important brake on religious fanaticism in public services, just as existing Quebec law already bans public servants from partisan political displays. Bill 21 does not discriminate against any religion nor against any group of persons: the only requirement is to remove obvious religious symbols when on the job.

CFIC claims to value critical thinking in addition to secularism. What a bad joke. By rejecting Bill 21, the CFIC article manifests a total lack of critical acumen while offering its support to religious fanatics. We all know that religious fundamentalists, and Islamists in particular, have targeted secularism, especially republican secularism, in their campaign to impose their ideology, and that many so-called leftists have been duped by this strategy. The CFIC article capitulates to the anti-secular propaganda of many media, most mainstream politicians and regressive pseudo-leftists who in turn just regurgitate the Islamist propaganda against republican secularism.

What arguments does CFIC offer to justify the unjustifiable? None. Nothing whatsoever. Other than empty clichés such as “diversity,” their only response is slander, spewing gratuitous accusations of “racism” and such. They have nothing more than that to rationalize their irrationality.

The implications are very serious. CFIC’s current attitude is unsurprising given its past behaviour, but it still constitutes a disgusting betrayal of Quebecers in particular and of secularism in general. CFIC’s behaviour in 2013 could perhaps be explained as simple ignorance of the principles of republican secularism (i.e. CFIC’s failure to go beyond mere religious neutrality to include religion-state separation as well), but its current position is far worse than that. CFIC has gone beyond failing to support secularists and is now transmitting slanderous anti-secular propaganda. The conflation of race and religion is particularly inexcusable.

The current CAQ government of Quebec (unlike the PQ government in 2013-2014) is in a sufficiently strong position that it will in all probability succeed in passing Draft Bill 21 into law. But history will recall the odious betrayal by Canadian organizations outside Quebec, such as CFIC, who reviled the very cause they claimed to espouse.


Correction 2019-05-13: “public institutions” replaced by “civic institutions” for clarity


Next blog: Six Pseudo-Arguments of Antisecularists