The Patriots of Lower Canada

An Important Event in the History of Secularism in North America

2022-04-04

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The Declaration also granted equal rights to native peoples.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Next blog: TBA

Unworthy To Be a Judge

2021-12-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relevant Links


Next blog: Inapte à être juge

Bill 21 as Seen by Four Quebec Secularists

2021-12-18

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

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

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

Marie-Claude Girard

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Baril

President of the Mouvement laïque québécois (MLQ)

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

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

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

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

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

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

André Lamoureux

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jean-François Lisée

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next blog: Unworthy to be a Judge

English Canada’s Messiah Complex

2021-12-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Next blog: Bill 21 as Seen by Four Quebec Secularists

Quebec Bill 21 for Dummies

Abbreviated Version

2021-12-14

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

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

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

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

Next blog: La Loi 21 pour les nuls

The 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