The Incompetence of Shachi Kurl

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

2021-09-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Necessity of Quebec Bill 21

A response to the pseudo-argument
“Quebec Bill 21 does not meet any existing need.”

2021-04-26

In the current context of the proliferation of Islamist ideology, Quebec Bill 21 is necessary.

En français Ce blogue est disponible en version française : La nécessité de la Loi 21

One of the popular pseudo-arguments employed by opponents of Quebec Bill 21 is their claim that such legislation is unnecessary, that it does not meet any real need. This bogus argument can be decoded by considering it in connection with another favourite pseudo-argument of antisecularists: that Bill 21 is somehow “discriminatory” and in particular that it “discriminates” against Muslim women.

But first, we must recognize the context in which we live: the proliferation of Islamist ideology.

To grasp fully the issues at play here, we must understand the objective significance of the Islamic veil. The veil, whether it be a hijab, chador, niqab, burqa, etc., is obviously an emblem of radical Islam, that is, Islamism. It is a political uniform and a tool which Islamism uses to infiltrate our societies, a marker of the territory which Islamists seek to occupy, with the complicity of a certain political “left” sometimes referred to as the “Islamoleft,” as well as other partisans of cultural relativism. The veil is also a very strong symbol of misogyny and sexism, as well as an icon of fundamentalist religious obscurantism.

Not to recognize this obvious fact, this objective reality—to claim, on the contrary, that the veil is just a banal article of clothing—is foolish and inexcusable.

We also know that the religious meaning that promoters of the veil assign to this accoutrement is one of purity. That is to say, the veil is a purity symbol which indicates that the woman wearing it is a good Muslim who deserves paradise and, on the other hand, that the woman who does not wear one (especially a Muslim who does not wear one) is impure and deserves to end up in hell. So this is the “choice” the woman faces: heaven or hell.

This objective reality of the veil is completely independent of the mentality or intention of the woman who wears it: she may wear it by choice and be completely unaware of its political significance; or, she may wear it because she is pressured to do so by family or community; or she may be an intentional supporter of Islamism. None of this changes the fact that the veil is a banner of Islamism.

Thus, given this reality, it is obvious that Bill 21 and similar measures which prohibit the wearing of religious symbols by State employees are absolutely necessary in order to counter this Islamist campaign. And to be fair, in order not to discriminate against a particular religion, these prohibitions must apply to visible symbols of all religions.

Therefore, Quebec Bill 21 is necessary and, in addition, it is designed not to discriminate. Thus, two bogus arguments of anti-secularists are entirely debunked. As for the opponents of Bill 21 who continue to use these pretexts, they are either completely mistaken, or they are crassly dishonest.


Next blog: The “Woke” are Not the Political Left

The “White Supremacism” Scam

2021-03-30

Accusations of “racism” and “white supremacism” have become increasingly meaningless because those who make such accusations have an agenda, an ideology, which has nothing to do with fighting racism.

Sommaire en français Les accusations de « racisme » et de « suprémacisme blanc » sont devenues de plus en plus dénuées de sens parce que ceux qui font de telles accusations ont un programme, une idéologie, qui n’a rien à voir avec la lutte contre le racisme.

The ideology of white supremacism is of course a reality. It was certainly a very serious reality in the U.S.A. during the many decades of legal enslavement of black people in the southern states, when it served as an excuse for that servitude. White supremacism remained a reality for many years more, even after the emancipation proclamation which came into effect on January 1st 1863. Even after blacks gained the right to vote, in theory at least, that right was often denied using various stratagems, such as making voter registration difficult.

After such a long history of extreme anti-black racism, it is certainly reasonable to assume that the ideology of white supremacism survives even today in some parts of the U.S.A. However, identifying it has become more difficult in recent years because of the pseudo-left’s noxious habit of seeing racism and white supremacism everywhere, whether it exists or not.

Furthermore, Canada is not the United States, despite the similarities. And Quebec is certainly not the United States, the similarities being less pronounced. On the Canadian side of the border, slavery was much less extensive, it was never a major aspect of the economy, it was prohibited earlier and it did not involve blacks exclusively. Racism in Canada may target various groups, but racism against First Nations persons is probably more serious than racism against blacks.

British Supremacism

One aspect of the Canadian situation which is very different from the American is the importance here of anti-Francophone prejudice. It is reasonable to assume that racist attitudes against groups originally from Europe are much less pronounced that those against non-European groups. Nevertheless, we must not forget that one of the original sources of anti-Francophone racism in Canada, especially in the early years of Canadian history, was the phenomenon of frequent intermarriage between North American natives and the French, so there is a link between these two racisms.

…in Canada the more appropriate expression would be British supremacism..

To summarize, white supremacism may exist anywhere, but in Canada the more appropriate expression would be British supremacism. Even in the USA, white supremacism is much less prevalent than it was only decades ago.

You have no doubt heard about the University of Ottawa professor Amir Attaran who recently became notorious for his remarks on Twitter calling Quebec the “Alabama of the north” and asserting that the province’s culture is racist and its government white supremacist. These remarks by Attaran, based on two isolated incidents of racism in Quebec, are themselves racist, i.e. anti-Québécois bigotry.

Hitching a Ride

Attaran’s anti-Québécois comments […] are just another installment in that propaganda.

Of course, we have heard a lot of anti-Québécois bigotry in recent years, It reached a fever-pitch in 2013-2014 when the PQ government of the time proposed a Charter of Secularism, calmed down a little when the PQ lost power, then rose again to an even hotter fever pitch in 2018 when the newly-elected CAQ promised to pass secular legislation and then did just that in June 2019. The anti-Quebec propaganda machine has not let up since then. There is an objective alliance between the anti-Enlightment pseudo-left (which I call the post-left) and political Islam which both oppose secularism fanatically and obsessively. Both essentialize (i.e. racialize) religious affiliation, thus conflating race and religion, which allows Islamism to hitch a ride on the coattails of the so-called “antiracist” movement.

Attaran’s anti-Québécois comments, even if Attaran made no reference to religion, are just another installment in that propaganda.

…recognizing “systemic racism” would allow Islamists to weaponize that concept and use it against secularism, i.e. against Bill 21.

For several months, Quebec premier François Legault has been under a lot of pressure to recognize the existence of so-called “systemic racism” in the province. He has resisted that pressure, refusing to acknowledge such a thing. Legault recognizes of course that racism exists in Quebec as it does everywhere, and he has expressed his commitment to fighting against it. But the expression is an ill-defined concept which contributes nothing to that fight. In fact, if racism is labelled “systemic” then individuals cannot be held fully responsible for their racist actions, if any, thus undermining that fight. Furthermore, it is obvious that “systemic racism” is a vague buzzword of both the post-left and Islamism, and that to recognize its existence would simply be a genuflexion in their direction, a gesture of submission to their retrograde ideologies. It is also obvious that recognizing “systemic racism” would allow Islamists to weaponize that concept and use it against secularism, i.e. against Bill 21. I congratulate premier Legault for his determination in refusing to capitulate.

Defamatory Accusations

Recently I was expelled from the Facebook group The Four Horsemen of the Anti-Apocalypse after posting a blog about the Swiss referendum which approved a ban on face-coverings, including Islamic full veils. I supported the ban and criticized Islamism’s promotion of the veil. In response to my posting, one very imaginative (and very “woke”) group member accused me of being “racist”, “alt-right” and “White Supremacist”!! I objected strongly, calling the accusations slanderous and insane. A group moderator then expelled me for being “rude” and having a “chip on your shoulder”!! (Indeed, that chip is exactly where it should be, because such accusations are completely unacceptable.) To summarize, I was expelled for supporting a restriction on Islamist proselytism.

If the moderator had had any sense of ethics, he would have expelled the person making defamatory accusations, not me. Ironically, the moderator was also angry at me for saying that many people in the group get pissed off at any criticism of Islam and that the moderators sometimes censor such criticism. He then proved I was right on both counts by expelling me.

Anyway, the above example is hardly exceptional, because the post-left “woke” mentality has infested so much of our society—and not just social media—that such manipulations occur with alarming frequency. Given the de facto alliance between the post-left and political Islam, accusations of “white supremacism” and similar slanders are becoming standard Islamist propaganda. I have described two examples above, one involving a U. of Ottawa professor, the other a personal experience. Accusations of “systemic racism” serve a similar purpose.

Crying Wolf

With the post-leftists and Islamists crying wolf all the time, such accusations are taken less and less seriously.

In other words, “White Supremacism” has become a scam, a specious accusation used by post-leftists and Islamists to defame and ultimately silence their critics. This is a toxic situation for several reasons: it stifles debate, it prevents necessary criticism of a very dangerous politico-religious movement, Islamism, and, finally it make it more difficult to recognize real instances of white supremacism. With the post-leftists and Islamists crying wolf all the time, such accusations are taken less and less seriously. If everybody is a white supremacist, then nobody is.


Next blog: La nécessité de la Loi 21

Passive Proselytism

2020-12-16

The wearing of religious symbols by civil servants and teachers on duty is a form of unacceptable religious advertising and an undeserved privilege granted to believers.

Sommaire en français Le port de signes religieux par les fonctionnaires et enseignant(e)s au travail est une forme de publicité religieuse inacceptable et un privilège indu accordé aux croyant(e)s. Voir mon blogue précédent Le prosélytisme passif.

The recent (2020-12-08) press release from Atheist Freethinkers gives the following explanation of the importance of banning State employees from wearing religious symbols:

[…] to allow civil servants and schoolteachers to indulge in ideological displays while on the job, simply because their ideology is religious, constitutes an unjustifiable privilege for religions. The consequences of this privilege are (1) an infringement on the freedom of conscience of users of social services and students in public schools, by exposing them to passive proselytism and indoctrination which these partisan religious manifestations exemplify; and (2) […]

One of the strategies of opponents of Bill 21, that is, anti-secularists, is to deny that passive proselytism even exists. To deny the reality of this phenomenon is very dishonest and in extremely bad faith. This is obvious.

When we are exposed to advertising on television, or in a print magazine, or on a billboard, we are being targeted by passive proselytism of the commercial variety. No-one can deny the effectiveness of this proselytism—and even less so its very existence! Businesses spend millions of dollars on such publicity—because it works.

If we allow civil servants in the public service or in schools to wear and display religious symbols while on the job, then we are dealing with passive proselytism of the religious type. Just replace the kippah, crucifix or hijab with a large promotion for McDonald’s or any other product for sale, displayed on the clothing of the civil servant, and the result is an advertisment which is obviously unacceptable. The kippah, crucifix and hijab similarly constitute unacceptable publicity in this context.

the purpose of religious proselytism is not necessarily to convert anyone, just as the goal of commercial advertising is not always to sell a product directly.

We must keep in mind that the purpose of religious proselytism is not necessarily to convert anyone, just as the goal of commercial advertising is not always to sell a product directly. Instead, the purpose is often to promote a particular brand or ideology, to normalize or trivialize the presence of that brand, so that it will be accepted and recognized by the public who are exposed to it.

In fact, a common practice among anti-secularists is to insist on a very narrow definition of the word proselytism, limiting it to mean the intention of converting others to the religion of the symbol worn. This is usually followed by a demand that quantitative studies be used to prove that such symbols do indeed have a proselytic effect. This is completely illogical.

In November 2020, Patrick Taillon testified before Quebec Superior Court as an expert witness for the Attorney-General of Quebec (AGQ) in the case Hak versus AGQ. In a radio interview with Antoine Robitaille, Taillon explains that, in 2015 when the Supreme Court of Canada endorsed the ban on prayers at municipal council meetings of the city of Saguenay, there was no requirement for quantitative studies of the effect of prayers on those persons who attended the meetings. The Court similarly did not require that the atheist complainant prove that the prayer could have converted him to Christianity. The wearing of religious symbols by agents of the State constitutes a similar situation. It is not necessary to prove explicitly that religious symbols have an effect on those exposed to them, especially if those persons are children.

[…] internal religious proselytism—that is, proselytism targeted at people of the same religion as the wearer of the symbol.

It is also important to recognize the importance of internal religious proselytism—that is, proselytism targeted at people of the same religion as the wearer of the symbol. This is generally the purpose of the Islamic veil, to send the message that the woman wearing it is a good, pure Muslim, while those Muslim women who do not wear the veil are bad, impure Muslims who deserve to end up in hell and should therefore adopt the veil in order to avoid that fate.

To allow teachers to wear religious symbols is tantamount to violating the right of pupils to an education free of indoctrination, in an environment free from proselytism. No quantitative study is required. The principle of secularism—in particular the principle of separation between religion and State—is sufficient to justify a ban.

the burden of proof is on such anti-secularists.

If the opponents of Bill 21 wish to grant religious believers the privilege of being allowed to engage in religious advertising while on the job, the burden of proof is on such anti-secularists. It is they who must provide proof of their claim that pupils will be unaffected.

Bill 21 establishes a reasonable compromise between the rights of State employees on the one hand and the rights of students and users of civil services on the ther hand.


Next blog: The Swiss Face-Covering Ban is About Deterring Religious Fanaticism

Racialism versus Secularism

Racialising Religious Affiliation to Oppose Secularism

2020-07-21

A few excepts from my long article The Battle Raging Between Racialism and Secularism published recently in Topical Magazine. The article criticizes the tendency of today’s so-called “antiracist” activists towards racialism and towards racialising religious affiliation as an anti-secularism strategy. The text presents several definitions in order to set the terms of the debate, followed by numerous examples of the racialisation of religious affiliation in France, in the United States and finally in Canada, with particular attention to the opponents of Quebec Bill 21.

Sommaire en français Quelques extraits de mon article, assez long, intitulé The Battle Raging Between Racialism and Secularism (La bataille farouche entre le racialisme et la laïcité) paru récemment dans la revue en ligne Topical Magazine. Il s’agit d’une critique de la tendance, chez les militants soi-disant « antiracistes » actuels, à verser dans le racialisme et à racialiser l’appartenance religieuse afin de lutter contre la laïcité. Le texte présente plusieurs définitions afin de préciser les termes du débat, suivies de nombreux exemples de la racialisation de l’appartenance religieuse en France, aux États-Unis et finalement au Canada, en particulier chez les adversaires de la Loi 21 québécoise.

…ethnicity, like race, refers principally to a person’s innate, immutable characteristics. Religion, on the other hand, is an ideology, a collection of ideas, beliefs and practices. Ethnicity is a personal identity, whereas religion is an opinion and an option. The distinction is crucial. To change one’s “race” is impossible. To change one’s religion may be easy or difficult, depending on one’s degree of indoctrination, but it is certainly not impossible. It may be as uncomplicated as changing one’s mind.

If religious affiliation is elevated to the status of ethnicity, then it becomes viewed as practically unchangeable, fixed for the person’s lifetime, making the individual a prisoner of the religion in which he or she was born and raised. Conflating race or ethnicity with religion implies the negation of freedom of conscience. It also opens the door to social—or even legal—censorship of criticism of religion, because if a religion is a “race” then is not criticising religion a form of “racism”?

Religious apologists tend to love the idea of conflating “race” or ethnicity and religion, because such conflation is a perfect tool for deflecting criticism of their religion. However, they need to think seriously about the implications. If we accept seriously the idea that anti-religious sentiment is indeed a form of “racism” then the three Abrahamic monotheisms—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—become, for this very reason, explicitly and unequivocally racist. Judaism asserts that the Jewish people is chosen by Jehovah and tough luck for everyone else. Christianity holds that those who fail to accept Christ are doomed to an eternity of punishment in hell. As for Islam, its holy book the Quran repeatedly expresses violent hostility towards non-Muslims and, in some contexts, enjoins Muslims to kill them. Adherents of these three religions would do well to reflect on this before embracing the religion-equals-race fraud.

It is important to preserve the biological meaning of the word “race” in order to prevent the apologists of certain ideologies from hijacking the concept for their own dubious purposes.

The racialisation of religious affiliation and the specious accusations of “racism” which it facilitates are hallmarks of racialism and probably the most important and toxic propaganda weapons of the fiercest opponents of secularism. These opponents are currently on the warpath in several countries. Let us consider a few examples.

Bill 21 is eminently sensible and moderate legislation. It is a matter of professional ethics. A representative of the State, while on the job, should not display partisan political or religious symbols. To allow the wearing of such symbols by State employees represents an unwarranted and unacceptable privilege accorded to the ideology which the symbol promotes. Several nations—France and parts of Switzerland, Belgium and Germany—also ban the overt display of religious symbols worn by some or all State employees. Bill 21 also bans face-coverings worn when providing or receiving government services, which is also the case for many European and African countries, some of which are Muslim-majority countries.

…one particularly creative opponent of Bill 21 links the bill to anti-black and anti-indigenous racism and asserts that it could very well lead to genocide… In light of the examples listed above, to say that Bill 21 meets with a hostile reaction is an understatement. The reaction has been hysterical, fanatical and patently insane.

This disinformation was repeated by many mainstream media as if it were fact, thus establishing a false link between an act of violence directed at a particular religious community and an extreme form of racism. Proponents of racialism and their Islamist allies pushed for M-103 as a result. Furthermore, that motion led to the formation of a parliamentary committee whose recommendations would open the door to allowing federal funds destined for anti-racism programmes to be misdirected into defending religious minorities and, through them, the religions themselves.

Racialism and the racialisation of religious affiliation are both profoundly dishonest and a considerable step backwards towards religious obscurantism and tribalism. It amounts to jettisoning freedom of conscience and abandoning universalism by labelling each individual indelibly with an attribute—i.e. religious affiliation—which is no more significant than an opinion, an opinion which not only may change, but which must be allowed to be changeable if we are to respect the individual’s fundamental human rights.

Read the full article.


Next blog: Lettre aux médias pour dénoncer le Conseil québécois LGBT

How the Woke Broke Secularism

2020-05-28

A discussion of how the “woke” mentality of the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left has converged with pro-religious prejudice and ignorance of secularism to create a fanatical opposition to Quebec’s Bill 21, a progressive and landmark piece of legislation which partially implements secularism in that province.

A slightly modified version of this article appears on the British website SP!KED under the title “Now even secularism is ‘Islamophobic’”.

Sommaire en français Une discussion de l’influence, sur le débat autour de la Loi 21 au Québec, de la mentalité dite « woke » (réveillée), soit celle de la pseudo-gauche anti-Lumières. Cette mentalité, en convergence avec des préjugés pro-religieux et une ignorance de la laïcité, a créé une opposition féroce à la Loi 21, une législation progressiste et historique qui réalise partiellement la laïcisation de l’État québécois.

Une version quelque peu modifiée du présent texte paraît sur le site britannique SP!KED sous le titre « Now even secularism is ‘Islamophobic’ ».

The Canadian province of Quebec recently adopted a new secularism law, Bill 21, which bans civil servants in position of authority, including schoolteachers, from wearing religious symbols. It also bans face-coverings for both employees and users. Yet, this progressive legislation has been met with extravagant denunciations from uncomprehending media and politicians outside Quebec, accusing the population of that province of a plethora of dastardly sins: xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, etc.

These accusations sound familiar. They belong to the vocabulary of the woke. I am of course referring to those ostensible leftists sometimes called regressive leftists, although the term anti-Enlightenment pseudo-leftists is more appropriate, militants who adhere to an admixture of dubious ideologies including intersectionality, multiculturalism, postmodernism and various degenerated forms of Marxism.

Two aspects of “wokism” are especially problematic: (1) privileging religious identity; and (2) conflating race and religion, i.e. confusing a person’s innate, intrinsic attributes (such as race) with acquired, extrinsic attributes (such as religion or opinion).

Bill 21’s definition of secularism includes the crucial principle of separation between State and religions, a principle which is poorly understood in the English-speaking world, although many pay lip service to it. For example, if a police officer is allowed to wear a visible crucifix, a kippa or a hijab while on duty, then obviously there is a lack of separation.

Quebec, on the other hand, has chosen the French model of secularism, a model which, unlike the English, includes the separation principle explicitly. The Anglo-Canadian elite is not amused. Nevertheless, polls show that many Canadians outside Quebec support the law, whereas inside Quebec the law enjoys massive support.

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

By requiring that teachers and civil servants in positions of authority remove religious symbols while on the job, Bill 21 protects pupils and users from the passive proselytizing which such symbols operate. It is a matter of professional ethics. Thus, Bill 21 extends and protects rights, i.e. the freedom of conscience of users and students.

The reaction of the woke “left” has been especially, well, reactionary. As Muslims constitute a minority in the countries where intersectional theory originated, they are considered an oppressed group. Intersectionality is notorious for its simplistic concentration on between-group oppression while ignoring within-group oppression. Few reasonable people would disagree with the famous Ernest Renan quote “Muslims are the first victims of Islam.” Yet intersectionalists would have to reject such an idea. If a Muslim is a target of oppression, the cause must inevitably be located outside their religious group. To fit the theory, any problems caused by a person’s Muslim identity must necessarily be caused by anti-Muslim animus and not by other Muslims or by Islam itself.

The wokish habit of conflating race and religion, especially if that religion is Islam, amounts to the negation of freedom of conscience and, with it, secularism. If being Muslim is a “race” then it is innate and immutable. Apostasy is a major sin in Islam and a crime—with severe consequences—in many Muslim-majority countries. The person born into a Muslim family is thus a prisoner of Islam, deprived of freedom of conscience, denied any possibility of apostasy, i.e. freedom to leave the faith to adopt another religion or none. This is precisely what Islamists aim for, and the woke hand it to them on a silver platter. The multiculturalist attitude that a hijabi “must” wear her hijab at all times is the soft version of that taboo against apostasy.

Secularism, on the hand, sends the opposite message: You are not defined by the religion forced upon you as a child.

Several well-funded organizations are challenging the law before the courts, claiming that it discriminates against Muslim women. But many Muslim women do not wear the hijab. To say that a ban on religious symbols discriminates against hijabis is like saying that speed limits discriminate against owners of high-performance vehicles. Those who defy the law are self-selecting, targets by their own design. These laws do not target anyone; rather, they target certain behaviours. If a woman wears the hijab not by choice but because she is pressured to do so by husband, family or community, then a ban in certain contexts will help her to resist that pressure.

Fortunately, the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left failed to stop Bill 21 from being passed into law. But it has done enormous damage, eroding support for secularism, even among many who hypocritically claim to be secularists. We will have to work very hard to repair that damage. In particular, we must assert the importance of freedom of conscience (which includes both freedom of and from religion) for all citizens; reject the conflation of race and religion; and insist that professional ethics take precedence over religious privilege.


Next blog: Le Conseil québécois LGBT refuse mon adhésion

Secularism Betrayed: 2020 Version

English-Canadian pseudo-secularists sink even lower.

2020-05-21

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: How the Woke Broke Secularism

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

2020-05-04

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 (2020-07-29, link corrected)

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

Please Remove Your MAGA Hat at Work

Same rule for crucifixes, hijabs, kippahs, turbans, niqabs, burqas, etc.

2019-12-29

Religious symbols are no more sacred than MAGA hats worn by Trump supporters.

Sommaire en français Les signes religieux ne sont pas plus sacrés que les casquettes MAGA portées par les partisans de Donald Trump.

What would you think of a teacher who wore a Trump MAGA (“Make America Great Again”) hat throughout the day while teaching his or her class? I know what I would say: Take that thing off while you are at work. You can wear it all you want off the job. I would say the same thing to a person wearing a Christian crucifix, a Sikh turban, a Jewish kippah, an Islamic veil, etc. — i.e. NOT on the job.

A few political and religious symbols Click to enlarge
A few political and religious symbols

Quebec already has a law (Public Service Act, on the books since 1983) which bans civil servants from displaying partisan political opinions while on the job. The new Bill 21 simply extends that to religious symbols, which are, of course, often very political. A religious symbol is no more sacred than a MAGA hat. Do what you want off the job. But on the job — especially if you work for the State, and especially if you are in a position of authority — you should take it off, in order to be fair to users of public services and students in schools.

The crucifix is the MAGA hat of Christianity.

The kippah is the MAGA hat of Judaism.

The turban is the MAGA hat of Sikhism.

The hijab is the MAGA hat of Islam.

The niqab and burqa are the MAGA hats of Islamism.


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