Quebec’s Right to Self-Determination

Are you a progressive Canadian?


In this blog I discuss the question of Quebec independence and I make the point that recognition of Quebec’s right to self-determination (which need not imply promotion of the independence option) is a necessary component of any progressive political stance. Failure to recognize this right constitutes a serious impediment to secularism in Canada in general, not just in Quebec.

Sommaire en français Dans ce blogue je considère la question de l’indépendance éventuelle du Québec. Je maintiens que la reconnaissance du droit du Québec à l’auto-détermination (ce qui n’implique pas nécessairement de prôner l’option indépendantiste) est une composante essentielle de toute orientation politique progressiste. Le refus de reconnaître ce droit représente une entrave majeure à la laïcité au Canada en général, et pas seulement au Québec.

Let us consider a little thought experiment. Suppose that at some date in the near future, the Parti Québécois (or another sovereignist political party) holds power in Canada’s province of Quebec, and that they plan to hold a referendum to decide whether Quebec should become an independent country. Furthermore, in order to simplify our thought experiment, let us suppose that, after intensive negotiations, all significant players in this drama—whether passionately in favour of Quebec independence, or fervently opposed to it, or holding some intermediate opinion—have agreed on the following three major points:

  1. the wording of the referendum question;
  2. the criterion for victory or failure of the independence option;
  3. in the event of failure, a restriction on the holding of similar referenda in the future.

Point (1) means that all have agreed on the wording of the question which will be put to voters. For example, “Do you want Quebec to separate from Canada to become an independent republic?” or whatever the various players agree to.

Point (2) means that all have agreed on what threshold will be necessary to decide that the referendum results represent a victory for independence. For example: 50% + 1 of all votes cast; or 50% + 1 of all eligible voters; or 60% of all votes cast; or 60% of all eligible voters; or whatever the various players agree to.

Point (3) implies that, if the independence side loses, all players agree that another referendum posing the same or a similar question may not be held again for a minimum number of years—for example, 15 years, or 25 years, or whatever the various players agree to. This will avoid the so-called “neverendum referendum” scenario, i.e. repeated and frequent referenda.

Thus we have what I think is a comprehensive set of conditions to make the referendum as fair as possible. Perhaps I have forgotten some other condition which should be met and which could be negotiated by all the major players in addition to the three listed above. I assume that all such major issues have been dealt with before the referendum is held.

I now ask you, dear reader, what your reaction would be if—after all these conditions had been met and the referendum held—the YES side won. What, in your opinion, should be done? In particular, what course of action should be adopted by the federal government in Ottawa?

I think the answer is obvious. Having agreed to a set of conditions assuring the fairness of the vote, and the YES side having won, the Ottawa government would have no choice but to accept the decision and to begin negotiations, in good faith, with the Quebec government, to facilitate the transition to sovereign nationhood for Quebec. If you disagree with this course of action, then you do not recognize Quebec’s right to self-determination. Furthermore, if you do not recognize Quebec’s right to self-determination, then you and I disagree on a fundamental principle of Canadian history and politics.

Now, in practice, I recognize that the conditions I have set up in preparation for the referendum are probably unrealistic. Indeed, if any of the parties to that preparation did not recognize Quebec’s right to self-determination, as I am certain some would not, then they would probably demand conditions to which independentists could never agree, such as, for example, an unrealistically high threshold for victory (condition 2). In practice, any referendum would probably occur in a context where controversy about the terms of the referendum continues to abound. Nevertheless, my goal in presenting such an idealized situation where most agree on those terms is to reduce the number of variables, i.e. to simplify the situation in order to expose one major variable, that variable being whether or not the stakeholders recognize a right to self-determination.

It is the duty of every […] progressive […] to support Quebec’s right to self-determination.

The bottom line is this: It is the duty of every person who considers himself or herself to be progressive in any real sense of that word—that is to say, in favour of fundamental human rights, in favour of social justice (an expression I continue to use despite the frequency with which it is bandied about and often abused), in favour of values which the left has traditionally defended (but in recent years has unfortunately tended to forget)—it is such a person’s duty, I say, to support Quebec’s right to self-determination. That does not mean that they must promote Quebec independence. Indeed, one may quite legitimately oppose it for a variety of reasons—for example, the political and economic instability which might (or might not) be the consequence of splitting up the Canadian federation and might (or might not) impoverish the population or otherwise significantly reduce their quality of life. But in that case one must respect Quebec’s right by opposing it honestly, with rational argument. And if the will of the Quebec nation—as expressed through a fair referendum—is to become independent, then one has a duty to respect that decision.

(Yes, Quebec constitutes a distinct nation within Canada: definition (1) of the Wiktionary definition of nation is “A historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, ethnicity and/or psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.”)

Furthermore, if one opposes the Quebec sovereignty movement irrationally, for example by claiming that it is “racist” or “fascist” or some such nonsense, that is by simply slandering it, then one is guilty of ethnic bigotry against the Quebec nation. And ethnic bigotry is a form of racism (in the extended sense, as I have defined it in a previous blog, although not in the strict sense, because Quebecers constitute an ethnic group and a nation, but not strictly a “race”). Thus such specious accusations are blatantly hypocritical because the persons making them are themselves guilty of racism.

The strategy of slandering the Quebec sovereignist movement by associating it with repressive and xenophobic right-wing political movements is […] hate propaganda against the Quebec nation.

Let us be very clear. There is nothing about the Quebec independence option which is essentially “racist” or “intolerant” or “fascist.” The strategy of slandering the Quebec sovereignist movement by associating it with repressive and xenophobic right-wing political movements is an extreme form of what has become known as “Quebec-bashing” but which I would simply call hate propaganda against the Quebec nation. Racism and ethnic bigotry are present in all societies and any nationalism may be vulnerable to the influence of such tendencies. However, any right-wing clerico-nationalist tendencies in Quebec have been largely eclipsed in the last half-century by the resolutely secular nature of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution. The conflict between Quebec sovereignists and Canadian federalists (i.e. for and against Quebec independence) is essentially a confrontation of two competing nationalisms:—Québécois and Canadian—and it is largely a matter of taste which of the two one prefers. Opposition to Quebec independence often takes the form of ethnic bigotry against the Quebec nation, and that bigotry is often expressed through the vehicle of Canadian nationalism—which can be very intolerant.

A lesser issue related to self-determination needs to be asserted as well. Respect for Quebec’s right to self-determination also implies respect for decisions of political importance but of lesser consequence than independence, decisions which may clash with values held by many Canadians outside Quebec. The obvious example of this is the desire of the majority of Quebeckers for a version of secularism in keeping with the republican tradition, i.e. laïcité. As Quebec is a separate province within Canada and Canada is a federation in which provinces hold significant powers, the right of Quebeckers to decide for themselves already has some legal basis, but that right is compromised by the fact that federal law takes precedence (which, in fact, constitutes an excellent argument for Quebec independence).

[…] old bigoted anti-Quebec memes were trotted out in order to demonize the Quebec Charter of Secularism […]. Partisans and dupes of Islamofascism made full use of such demonization to oppose the Charter.

We saw how old bigoted anti-Quebec memes were trotted out in order to demonize the Quebec Charter of Secularism proposed by the Parti Québécois government in 2013-2014. Partisans and dupes of Islamofascism made full use of such demonization to oppose the Charter. This bigotry rendered the Charter debate highly toxic and impeded rational discussion of the important issues involved. If Quebec’s right of self-determination had been respected, this problem would have been greatly reduced.

So-called secularists […] who allow their hostility towards Quebec nationalism to cloud their judgement […] constitute a major threat to the very secularism which they claim to support.

Why am I making this point in a blog normally devoted to issues of atheism and secularism? Because the demonization of Quebec independentists (and even softer nationalists) is a major impediment hindering efforts at secularization in Canada. Secularism is a major value of the Quebec nation, something which that nation shares with French culture in general, the result being that progress towards greater autonomy for Quebec and progress towards secularization tend to go hand in hand. This has been the case throughout the Quiet Revolution of the late XXth century and it continues to be the case. So-called secularists in Canada outside Quebec who refuse to recognize Quebec’s right to self-determination, who allow their hostility towards Quebec nationalism to cloud their judgement, who allow themselves to be manipulated by Islamists, constitute a major threat to the very secularism which they claim to support.



If the above blog speaks to you then you may be interested in the organization Anglophones for Québec Independence (AQI) founded in 2015. I personally am not a member, because I prefer to remain neutral on this issue, but I am very glad that such a group exists because they work to alleviate the stigmatisation of Quebec nationalism. Indeed, part of AQI’s mission is “to demystify inaccurate stories about Quebec and to answer insulting attacks, including the tired accusation that Quebecers are racist or xenophobic.” In other words, they promote intellectual hygiene, which can only make secularism debates healthier.

Next blog: Notes on the Regressive Left, Part II: ANTIFA: Shock Troops of the Regressive “Left”

The Undauntable Fatima!

The Political Integrity of One Secular MNA Contrasts with the Venality of Her Colleagues


This blog tells the story of former MNA Fatima Houda-Pepin and how she recently exposed the venality of a certain dubious philosopher.

Sommaire en français Ce blogue raconte l’histoire de l’ex-députée Fatima Houda-Pepin et comment elle a récemment dévoilé la prévarication d’un certain philosophe douteux.

The story of Mme Fatima Houda-Pepin, a secular Muslim, is probably not well-known outside Quebec. It deserves to be.

Madame Fatima Houda-Pepin was a Member of National Assembly (MNA) for the Quebec Liberal Party (QLP), first elected in 1994. When in 2013 the Parti Québécois government proposed its Charter of Secularism (the oft-used name “Charter of Values” is a misnomer, being only the preliminary name before the draft bill was published), Mme Houda-Pepin, like her party, opposed it. However, that is not the end of our story. It is only the beginning. Because Mme Houda-Pepin’s position on the subject of secularism was nevertheless very different from that of her party.

Unlike so many Charter opponents who rejected the Charter of Secularism by mindless reflex, declaring that the proposed legislation was a response to a non-existent need, Mme Houda-Pepin recognized that, on the contrary, a major societal issue required legislative action. As an alternative to the PQ’s Charter, she proposed her own law, Draft Bill 491, “An Act respecting the religious neutrality of the State and the fight against religious fundamentalism…”, which, among other things, stipulated the following:

  • “All State personnel are imposed a duty of religious neutrality in the exercise of their functions. Persons in authority with the power to coerce, such as judges, prosecutors, police officers and correctional officers, are prohibited from wearing conspicuous religious symbols in the exercise of their functions.”
  • “State personnel are prohibited from wearing a chador, a niqab or a burka.”
  • “The bill requires that State services be provided and received with an uncovered face, except in cases of occupational necessity or for health or safety reasons.”
  • “the Premier is also required to create, by legislative or regulatory means, a centre dedicated to action research on religious fundamentalism and its impact on democracy, human rights and youth rights.”

The full text of Draft Bill 491 is available. It is not very long.

… if Couillard really cared about the issue of religious accommodation, … he would have made overtures to the Parti Québécois to negotiate some kind of compromise between the PQ’s Charter and Houda-Pepin’s proposed bill.

If the leadership of the QLP had had some modicum of political integrity, if its leader Philippe Couillard really cared about the issue of so-called “reasonable accommodation”–i.e. religious accommodation–which was causing such upheaval in Quebec, he would have welcomed Draft Bill 491 and, furthermore, would have made overtures to the Parti Québécois to negotiate some kind of compromise between the PQ’s Charter and Houda-Pepin’s proposed bill. But Couillard and the QLP did no such thing. Instead they rejected her bill and expelled her from the caucus. Mme Houda-Pepin henceforth sat as an independent in the National Assembly.

In the Quebec election of April 2014, the Parti Québécois abstained from running a candidate in the riding La Pinière, instead directing its supporters to vote for Houda-Pepin. The Liberal Party parachuted a high-profile candidate Gaétan Barrette into the riding. He defeated Houda-Pepin, was named Minister of Health in the newly elected Liberal government and has since been playing havoc with Quebec’s health-care system with widespread austerity measures.

Now fast forward to January of 2017. A horrific mass murder occurs in a Quebec City mosque. The perpetrator is a non-Muslim. There is widespread condemnation of this terrible act, including of course from those who support secularism and who criticize religion regularly (such as myself) because, for one thing, such gratuitous, murderous violence can never be justified, and, furthermore, it will only play into the hands of Islamist fundamentalists by giving them a pretext to further their program, especially since one of their favourite strategies is playing the victim. Nothing good can come of such horror.

And that is indeed what happened. Almost immediately, unscrupulous politicians and others started slandering secularists by claiming that their support for the PQ’s Charter of Secularism somehow helped cause the Quebec City shooting. This chorus of voices was joined by a certain Charles Taylor who had been co-chair of the famous Bouchard-Taylor Commission which, a decade ago, was mandated to study the controversial issue of religious accommodation. One of the principal recommendations of that Commission was very similar to one of the main provisions of Houda-Pepin’s proposed Bill 491: a ban on religious symbols for public servants in positions of coercive authority. Taylor now repudiates that recommendation, saying that no such ban should be implemented, and he claims that the Quebec City mosque shooting led him to that change of heart.

But Taylor is being less than truthful, and it is Fatima Houda-Pepin who set the record straight for us. She revealed that Taylor had discreetly repudiated the recommendation years ago, at around the time she presented her Draft Bill 491. Indeed, shortly before Houda-Pepin was expelled from the Liberal caucus, Premier Couillard forbade her from discussing her proposed legislation with the caucus. To underline his rejection of any ban on religious symbols, Couillard revealed that Taylor as well was ready to reject such a ban.

Taylor … did not have a change of heart because of the mosque shooting. On the contrary, he cynically exploited that tragic event as an excuse to rationalize a decision he had made years before.

Thus, thanks to Fatima Houda-Pepin, we now know that Taylor’s recent behaviour was at best disingenuous, and arguably dishonest. He did not have a change of heart because of the mosque shooting. On the contrary, he cynically exploited that tragic event as an excuse to rationalize a decision he had made years before.

Taylor has thus thoroughly undermined the recommendations of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, although the other co-president of the Commission, Gerald Bouchard, has not changed his position. Subsequently, Couillard has opportunistically used Taylor’s about-face to justify an intransigent attitude towards any consideration of a ban on religious symbols worn by public servants, even by those with coercive authority. The premier has rejected any possibility of compromise with the two opposition parties on that issue.

Next blog: Rules for a Discussion about Religion

Challenges for Canadian Secularists

2016-09-20, updated 2016-09-21

A (non-exhaustive) list of seven challenges which Canadian secularists must meet in order to promote a state which is truly independent of religious interference.

Sommaire en français

Une liste (non exhaustive) de sept défis que les partisans de la laïcité doivent relever afin de prôner un État véritablement indépendant et libre d’ingérence religieuse. Ces défis sont :

  • Prôner l’abolition de la monarchie
  • Abandonner le multiculturalisme (communautarisme)
  • S’opposer à tous les intégrismes, y compris l’islamique, et pas seulement le chrétien
  • Reconnaître que certains codes vestimentaires sont nécessaires pour la laïcité
  • Respecter le choix du Québec en matière de laïcité
  • Laisser tomber votre puéril engouement pour Saint Justin Trudeau
  • Rejeter l’influence de la gauche régressive



The monarchy is a religious institution, incompatible with fundamental human rights.

The fact that Canada’s head of state must be of a particular religion is bad enough, but it is only a symptom of the underlying problem: the monarchy is essentially a religious institution, in which the king or queen rules by “divine right,” i.e. a mandate from an imaginary divinity. The fact that Canada’s monarchy is constitutional does not change that situation; it simply makes the monarchy non-absolute. Similarly, so-called “moderate” Christian churches avoid some of the worst excesses of fundamentalist churches, but they are still Christian.

Furthermore, hereditary transmission of the title of head of state violates the principle of equality which is fundamental to human rights and secularism. Finally, the bizarre circumstance that Canada’s monarch is a foreigner—and the head of state of a foreign country—tends to favour those whose ethnic background is from that country and to undervalue all others.


Multiculturalism = communitarianism = cultural relativism = ethno-religious determinism = religious essentialism = soft racism = an electoral strategy of unscrupulous politicians

I have criticized multiculturalism in previous blogs and articles and many other writers have pointed out the flaws in this nice-sounding but retrograde concept. In particular the Canadian Multiculturalism Act must be repealed or at least modified substantively so that it can no longer be used to favour the more religious (including fundamentalists and worse) over the less religious and the non-religious.


Christianity is not the only crappy religion. Islam is just as dangerous—and currently it is arguably even worse (which does not imply that we can stop criticizing Christianity for now). Sikh, Hindu, Judaic and other fundamentalisms are also dangerous.

In particular, we must resist the Islamist ploy, so commonly used to manipulate well-meaning fools, of playing the victim, of exaggerating the seriousness of anti-Muslim acts. In Canada, hate crime statistics indicate that the most frequent targets of such acts continue to be blacks and Jews.

Although is it obviously unfair to blame all Muslims for the actions of Islamist terrorism, all Muslims, including so-called moderates, nevertheless have a responsibility to confront the reality of that terrorism—i.e. the fact that the coran and other core documents of Muslim tradition contain much hate propaganda and many calls for deadly violence—and to distance themselves definitively from it. The fact that the torah and the bible also contain similar content does not mitigate Muslims’ responsibility; it simply means that Christians and Jews also have responsibilities.

As the journalist Joseph Facal puts it, not all Muslims are guilty but all are responsible. Adopting the posture of a victim is a strategy for shirking those responsibilities. (“enfermement dans une posture victimaire qui conduit à se défiler devant ses propres responsabilités.”)


Or do you want police and judges to wear collanders and niqabs?

It is unacceptable for public servants—especially those with coercive power such as police, judges and prison guards—to display blatant symbols of religious or political affiliation while on duty. To allow such aberrant behaviour has nothing to do with “rights”—rather it amounts to granting a privilege to the wearers of such symbols and to their religion or ideology, a privilege which compromises everyone else’s freedom of conscience.

Face-coverings are even worse, as they are impediments to security and communication, among other issues. They should be forbidden for all users of public services, not just state employees on duty.


The Québécois have every right to choose laïcité without being vilified for it.

During the debate over Quebec’s proposed Charter of Secularism in 2013-2014, opposition to the Charter from Canada outside Quebec was ferocious and based largely on ethnic bigotry against Quebeckers, bigotry which is often called “racism” (although inaccurate here, because French-speaking Québécois constitute a nation, not a “race”). When the PQ goverment was defeated in the provincial election of April 2014 and the Charter thus died, the defeat was because voters rejected the PQ’s sovereignty option, not secularism. Polls show that secularism remains very popular among Quebeckers, and their secularism is more in line with the modern republican tradition of laïcité which is obviously superior to the lame 17th-century Lockean pseudo-secular tradition which is dominant in English-speaking countries and remains so, largely as a result of anglo-ethnocentrism.

(This tension was also very evident during the recent burkini controversy. More on that in a future blog.)


Justin Trudeau is as anti-secular and as shallow as Pope Franky. Like the pope, his strength is in dishonest self-marketing.

Trudeau opportunistically courts the votes of various religious communities by flirting with very dubious Islamists (with ideological affinities to the Muslim Brotherhood) and with fundamentalist Sikhs.

Trudeau insults gays and women by marching in gay parades and claiming to be a feminist while continuing to be very chummy with religious fanatics who practice gender segregation and oppose gay rights and gender equality.

Trudeau slanders secularists by lumping us all in the same category as a bigoted con-artist like Donald Trump.

To criticize Trudeau does not imply support for his adversaries and enemies. That would be falling into the trap of what I call the “binary fallacy” and which Wikipedia calls “False dilemma”.


Western women who wear the veil contribute to the subservience of women elsewhere in the world for whom wearing the veil is an obligation.

The regressive left uses specious accusations of “intolerance,” “xenophobia,” “islamophobia,” etc. to deflect or silence legitimate criticism of religions and multiculturalism.

Secularists must explicitly reject the odious influence of the regressive left which Wikipedia describes as “a section of left-wing politics which is accused of paradoxically holding reactionary views due to tolerance of illiberal principles and ideologies (such as extremist Islamism) for the sake of multiculturalism and cultural relativism.” This accusation is certainly valid in light of the behaviour of many leftist and centrist Canadian politicians, the most noteworthy being Justin Trudeau who, for electoral advantage, regularly panders to various religious communities (such as Islamist and Sikh) which tend to be of the fundamentalist variety.

It is shameful how Trudeau and his ilk present the wearing of the Islamic veil as some sort of victory for women’s rights when in reality it is precisely the opposite. Remember the admonition of Mona Eltahawy, author of “Headscarves and Hymens”: western women who wear the veil contribute to the subservience of women elsewhere in the world for whom wearing the veil is an obligation.

Next blog: False Memes from the Burkini Wars

The Extended Weinberg Principle


Otherwise intelligent people sometimes say the most absurd things once their thinking is infected with religious belief or meta-belief. In this blog I present and analyze several antisecular assertions (some made by so-called secularists) which are outrageously irrational. These declarations are representative of the antisecular socio-political climate which currently reigns in Canada.

Sommaire en français Des personnes normalement intelligentes sont capables de faire des déclarations d’une absurdité alarmante, une fois leur pensée infectée par des croyances ou des méta-croyances religieuses. Dans ce blogue je présente et analyse plusieurs assertions anti-laïques (faites parfois par des individus se disant « secularist ») qui sont hautement irrationnelles. Ces quatre assertions sont:

  1. Fournir un uniforme adapté spécifiquement aux agents de la GRC de religion sikhe ne constitue pas du favoritisme.
  2. Le port du niqab lors des cérémonies de citoyenneté est un « droit ».
  3. S’opposer au port du niqab lors des cérémonies de citoyenneté est raciste.
  4. Les partisans de la Charte de la laïcité du gouvernement PQ pratiquaient une politique de la haine tout comme Donald Trump aujourd’hui.

Ces déclarations témoignent du climat socio-politique antilaïque qui sévit actuellement au Canada.

There is a famous quotation, popular among atheists, from the American physicist Steven Weinberg:

With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.

I call this the Weinberg Principle. In a 2015 AFT Blog (Turban: The Real Issue Remains Unresolved) I defined what I call the Extended Weinberg Principle as follows:

With or without religion, intelligent people will say and do intelligent things and stupid people will say and do stupid things; but for intelligent people to say or do stupid things—that takes religion.

I also call this phenomenon “voluntary selective stupidity” in which otherwise intelligent people choose to be foolish about a particular subject, usually religion. Indeed, there is nothing like religion to turn intelligent people into fools. This applies even to non-believers, who—although they may reject all religious beliefs—may nevertheless persist in holding and transmitting religious metabeliefs, i.e beliefs about belief. In this blog I give several examples.

Assertion #1

Firstly, consider the following statement:

Allowing RCMP officers to wear the Sikh turban while on duty does not constitute favouritism.

This assertion was made by a self-proclaimed secularist, who was clearly adept at the Orwellian language “Newspeak.” Recall that George Orwell, in his celebrated novel 1984, introduced Newspeak, a language so dishonest that it regularly asserted the exact opposite of a simple truth, oxymorons such as “Black is white” or “War is peace.” Indeed, allowing Sikh Mounties to wear the turban of their religion is precisely and obviously an example of favouritism towards a particular religion, i.e. religious privilege. The only way that it could not be a privilege would be if special uniforms were also made available for every other possible religion and indeed for every possible ideology: special dress for Christians, Pastafarians, Muslims, atheists, Marxists, anarcho-syndicalists, Friedmanite capitalists, etc. The list is endless. Such a chaotic collection of ununiform uniforms would be unmanageable. Fortunately the RCMP does not do this. But it continues to offer this one privilege to Sikh men.

Assertion #2

Secondly, let us consider another example of Orwellian contradiction, this time on the subject of face-coverings:

Wearing the niqab during citizenship ceremonies is a “right.”

Face-coverings are a serious impediment to communication and security and thus may legitmately be forbidden in many situations for reasons having nothing to do with either religion or secularism. But then along comes an adept of a particular religion who declares that she is “obligated” by her beliefs to wear a face-covering, called the niqab, at all times, even during a brief citizenship ceremony. The secular response would be, “The ban applies to everyone equally. No exceptions for religious reasons.”

But the current Canadian government of Justin Trudeau does precisely the opposite: it not only allows this religious accommodation, it says that it is the believer’s “right” which must be guaranteed! To make matters worse, the religion favoured here happens to be a particularly malignant, fundamentalist and extremist version of monotheism. By allowing it this privilege, the government is objectively enabling an extreme right-wing ideology.

Assertion #3

Thirdly, it gets worse. In a Feb. 16, 2016 article in the Globe & Mail, Gerald Caplan declared that:

To oppose wearing the niqab during citizenship ceremonies is racist.

To be accurate, Caplan applied the word racist to describe “the demagogic racist campaign against the niqab by Mr. Harper and associates” but I suspect that the word “associates” means he is extending the accusation to all who favoured a ban on the niqab in that context. For one thing, the niqab is an emblem of an extreme variant of the religion Islam and has nothing to do with race. Islam is not a race. Islamism is not a race. Religion is not race. Criticizing a religion is not racist. The accusation is nonsense.

[…] some so-called secularists were so carried away by their hatred of Harper that they approved the niqab, apparently out of spite! This is like opposing the breathing of oxygen because Harper breathes oxygen.

We can probably assume that attempts by Harper and his Conservative gorvernment to ban the niqab at citizenship ceremonies were partially motivated by religious bigotry (i.e. Christians expressing anti-Muslim sentiment). Yet even by this worst possible interpretation, those attempts were objectively MORE secular than the shamefully antisecular position adopted by both the Liberals and the NDP—and by Caplan. In Canada outside Quebec, some so-called secularists were so carried away by their hatred of Harper that they approved the niqab, apparently out of spite! This is like opposing the breathing of oxygen because Harper breathes oxygen. Fortunately this did not occur in Quebec, where secularists resolutely and simultaneously opposed both Harper and the niqab.

The unscrupulous broadcasting of gratuitous accusations of racism, intolerance, xenophobia or “Islamophobia” is the hallmark of the regressive left (or centre). Caplan has chosen his camp. Not only is Caplan’s assertion irrational and unacceptable, if he were to direct such an accusation against an individual it would arguably be illegal because it could constitute personal libel, in which case I would suggest suing Mr. Caplan before the courts.

Assertion #4

Finally, two months after his election, our new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement in which he opined that:

The Quebec Charter of Secularism (proposed by the previous Quebec government) was comparable to Donald Trump in promoting “the politics of division, the politics of fear, the politics of intolerance or hateful rhetoric.”

While Caplan slandered supporters of a niqab ban in citizenship ceremonies, Trudeau here manages to slander the majority of Quebeckers who supported the Charter of Secularism. (Remember, the PQ government was defeated mainly because of its sovereignist program, not its Charter.) Working towards a secular state in which the public service is free of religious advertising is not “hateful.” Rather it is a plan for progress and freedom. Of course we have heard such nonsense before from many Charter opponents, but that does not make Trudeau’s statement any less unacceptable or any less defamatory. What is new is his addition of even further insult by comparing Charter supporters to that bigoted reality-TV clown Trump. It is Trudeau who is indulging in hateful rhetoric—against secularists.

Confusion and Intimidation

In describing the above examples of voluntary selective stupidity, I wish to emphasize that I am not labelling anyone as lacking intelligence. The accusation I am making is far more serious than that. I am saying that otherwise intelligent people are deliberately choosing to adopt a very unintelligent and dangerous position with respect to a religious issue. This is inexcusable. If they did lack intelligence, that would at least constitute some excuse.

I have listed the above examples in order of increasing seriousness, ranking Caplan’s and Trudeau’s slanderous accusations as worse than the unreasonable religious accommodations in assertions 1 and 2. However, in the final analysis, they are simply two sides of the same coin. I have heard many people make statements equivalent or similar to the first two assertions, but I have never heard any of them denounce—or even distance themselves from—the defamatory rhetoric of the last two assertions. While the first two lead to confusion about secularism, assertions 3 and 4 accuse those of us who remain committed secularists of all sorts of horrible sins (racism, xenophobia, intolerance, etc.), thus intimidating the confused so much that they are afraid to even consider what we have to say.

I recently saw a particularly onerous example of this on Facebook: a person claiming to be a secularist declared, “I am not a dress code bigot.” As if it were possible to have a secular state with NO dress codes at all! We can debate whether secular dress codes should apply to all public servants on duty, or only to certain categories, but it is inevitable that such codes must apply at least to state agents with coercive authority—or do you want your police and judges to wear collanders, g-strings, hijabs and large crucifixes while on duty? Even without secularism, implicit and explicit dress codes are ubiquitous, including many workplaces and professions. Clearly this person has been bullied into submission by the incessant and virulent antisecular propaganda which has inundated the media in the last few years and poisoned the debate.

a climate of antisecular intimidation, where multiculturalist ideologues echo the discourse of Islamists, throwing around outrageous insults whose purpose is to silence anyone who dares to question the dominant ideology of religious privilege […]

If the four assertions listed above are not explained by a lack of intelligence, then what on earth could have motivated anyone to say such inanities? We do not need to know each individual’s personal reasons. It is enough to understand the socio-political climate which facilitates and encourages the expression of such nonsense: a climate of antisecular intimidation, where multiculturalist ideologues echo the discourse of Islamists, throwing around outrageous insults whose purpose is to silence anyone who dares to question the dominant ideology of religious privilege, i.e. the meta-belief that religion must have priority over other considerations, the meta-belief that religious beliefs are so overwhelmingly essential to personal identity that their blatant expression must never be curtailed— not even among public servants on the job, nor even for the few minutes duration of an official ceremony.

Where are the Secularist Voices?

Unfortunately the assertions stated above may be representative of majority opinion among so-called secularists in Canada. If so, then we have a serious problem. Even if this is not the case, we still have a serious problem, because of the near-total silence. Why have we not heard dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of pro-secular voices raised in protest against the misrepresentation of secularism and the denigration of secularists?

Clearly, if Canadian pseudo-secularists aspire to become secularists, they must abandon their political and intellectual cowardice as well as their reactionary attachment to ethno-religious determinism, which they sugar-coat with the label “multiculturalism.” They must stop worshipping at the altar of Saint Justin. In particular, they must stop opposing pro-secular measures simply because the government proposing such measures may happen to be unpopular.

Next blog: Of Pigs and Prayer

Hate Quebec, Hate Secularism


Antipathy towards Quebec and anti-secularism often go hand in hand in Canadian politics. They are, or should be, unrelated issues, but as republican secularism is more popular in Quebec and multiculturalism more popular outside Quebec, they become intertwined. I give some examples of this harmful attitude, from comments on an atheist web site to a Globe and Mail article.

Sommaire en français Une antipathie pour le Québec et une prise de position antilaïque sont deux attitudes souvent confondues dans les débats politiques au Canada. En principe ces deux questions n’ont rien directement en commun, mais deviennent entremêlées puisque la laïcité (républicaine) est plus populaire au Québec et le multiculturalisme plus populaire hors Québec. J’en présente quelques exemples tirés d’un site web athée et d’un article du journal torontois Globe and Mail.

One day during the campaign leading up to the Quebec provincial election of April 2014, I visited the web site Canadian Atheist and found, to my initial surprise, that the most recent post consisted mainly of a very brief video, only a few seconds, configured to run in an infinite loop, showing Pauline Marois—premier of Quebec at the time—standing before a cluster of microphones at a press conference and, with the palm of one hand, gently but firmly pushing Pierre-Karl Péladeau away from the microphones. Péladeau, a rich businessman and owner of media giant Québecor, had recently become a Parti Québécois (PQ) candidate in that election and has since become leader of the party, replacing Marois after the party’s defeat in that 2014 election.

Clearly the video was meant as a mocking embarrassment to the PQ, showing a conflict between two leaders—current and future—of that separatist party. But why would such a video be posted on an atheist web site? It had no relevance there. What could some alleged power struggle within a provincial political party have to do with atheism? The video sequence was obviously meant to be humorous but succeeded merely in being adolescent and bizarre.

Furthermore, by any reasonable standard, an atheist web site would be expected to adopt a serious, even sympathetic attitude towards that political party. After all, a major aspect of the PQ’s platform in the 2014 election was its Charter of Secularism which, if adopted, would have officially declared the Quebec state to be secular and would have instituted separation of religion and state as official policy in Quebec. All atheists and secularists could be expected to support such a measure enthusiastically and to be favourably disposed towards whoever proposed it.

However this is Canada, and as I have learned to my great chagrin, expecting Canadians—in particular Canadians who claim to be secularists—to behave reasonably and in accordance with their own best interests is a recipe for disappointment. Despite the valiant efforts and the perseverance of my friend and colleague Veronica Abbass, editor-in-chief of Canadian Atheist, the postings and in particular the comments on that site sometimes degenerate into a fetid cesspool of anti-secularism and hatred of Quebec, the two currents being very much intertwined. That, in a nutshell, is the explanation for the video posting described above. For technical reasons it has unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately—since disappeared from the site, so I am unable to name the author who posted it.

Indeed, that site is infested by a small but very vocal number of ethnic bigots—the poster of the video just mentioned being one—whose extreme antipathy towards Quebec nationalism greatly exceeds any attachment they might have to secularism. Several of them avoid using a full name. Their comments vary in length, from a simple specious insult like “Islamophobia!” to interminable diatribes thousands of words long. Here is a representative sample from one of those comments:

[…] the pq charter […] had nothing to do with secularism and everything to do with repressive nationalism.


The PQ hates multiculturalism because it implies québécois culture is no more special than any other, and therefore not deserving of special status and protection. True secularism is about not privileging one religion over any others, it is not about bullying religious minorities out of the public sphere/service.

Comment by “Joe”

The author of the above comment needs to pulls his/her head out of his/her gluteal sphincter and recognize a few obvious facts:

  1. The Charter, whether one agreed with it or not, was certainly about secularism.
  2. Quebec nationalism in general has been, for the last half century, resolutely secular in orientation.
  3. Putting Québécois culture on par with a religion, as he/she does, is absurd.
  4. French-language culture in Canada, concentrated in Quebec, is certainly “deserving of special status” and indeed, constitutionally so, as French and English are Canada’s two official languages.

The reality is that the avant-garde of secularism not just in Canada but in all of North America—indeed in the entire western hemisphere—is in Quebec. The crucifixes that used to be omnipresent there are mostly gone, while the crucifix still hanging in the National Assembly is an annoying remnant whose continued presence was formally guaranteed not by the PQ but by the Quebec Liberal Party which vehemently opposed the Quebec Charter of Secularism, in collaboration with Islamists.

The irony of the comments by “Joe” is that he/she correctly identifies the situation—that multiculturalism reduces the French language and culture to a status no greater than any other non-English culture—and then draws precisely the wrong conclusion: that this situation is justified.

Canada was founded as an ostensibly bilingual nation, a partnership between two founding cultures and languages: the English and the French. In practice, it did not quite work out that way, with English having far greater dominance, while French gradually receded almost everywhere. The British imperial power, at its apogee, was notorious for its arrogance, ethnocentrism, paternalism and racism. The fact that the French (and to a lesser extent the Scottish) tended to intermarry with First Nations people a little more than others gave the English yet another excuse to look down their noses at them. In the 1960s, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism studied this linguistic imbalance and proposed policies to attempt to correct it. However, within a few years, the concept of biculturalism had been forgotten and was supplanted by multiculturalism.

Whether intentional or not, this replacement of “bi-” by “multi-” led to further devaluation of French language and culture, already in an inferior position. With multiculturalism, French culture became just another in a mosaic. The dominance of English culture became overwhelming. Multiculturalism thus became a vehicle for Anglo ethnocentrism. An ideology which claims to be a solution to racism (it is not) became a vehicle for devaluing one of Canada’s two founding cultures.

Multiculturalism thus became a vehicle for Anglo ethnocentrism. […] The arrogance and paternalism of British imperialism have been recycled and repackaged as multiculturalism.

And that is one major reason why multiculturalism is so popular in Canada outside Quebec, and less popular in Quebec. It allows Canadians to pretend to be anti-racist, while simultaneously providing a convenient excuse for their ongoing antipathy towards French-speaking Quebecers. The arrogance and paternalism of British imperialism have been recycled and repackaged as multiculturalism.

Anyone who claimed to be a secularist could not in good conscience oppose the PQ Charter unless they were honest about what they were opposing, and on what basis they were opposing it. They were in fact opposing a law inspired by the French tradition of republican secularism, and their opposition was based on a defence of religious privilege as guaranteed by Lockean pseudo-secularism as explained in a previous blog. Charter opponents rejected the Charter because it represented a more coherent form of secularism. They preferred the inferior Lockean form, but rarely had the clarity to say so. However Quebecers prefer the republican form, as is their right.

The tendentious habit of opposing secularism by vilifying those who propose it certainly did not disappear when the party which proposed the Charter was defeated in April of 2014. It continues unabated. We saw it recently during the federal election of October 2015, when anyone who pointed out the foolishness of allowing face-coverings during citizenship hearings risked being accused of “intolerance” or worse. Anti-Quebec memes were freely recycled for this purpose. For example, Sheema Khan, writing in the Globe and Mail during the federal election campaign trotted out that old chestnut of Jacques Parizeau’s “money and ethnic votes” comment as an excuse for supporting wearing the niqab, while comparing the 1995 pro-Canada, anti-separatist rally in Montreal to a “noble” pilgrimage (i.e. the “hajj”). Does this mean that Allah condemns those damn separatists?

It is a tenet of Canadian mythology that Parizeau’s comment was “racist” but in reality he was just being a sore loser, angry that his side lost the referendum by a very narrow margin whereas the federal government had subsidized the rally in violation of Quebec legislation limiting campaign spending. Without such federal overspending, the “Oui” side might have won. As for the “ethnic” part, Parizeau was simply referring to the well-known phenomenon of federalists seeking electoral advantage by encouraging new immigrants in the Montreal area to assimilate to the English-language community rather than the French. Parizeau’s comment, made in the heat of bitter disappointment, was foolish because an intelligent politician such as he should have known that his political enemies would use such a comment to make unfounded but damaging accusations. That is indeed what they did, and continue to do even after his death.

Another irony: Parizeau was among those sovereignists who expressed strong reservations about the Charter of Secularism. But that does not stop enemies of secularism from using his example to denigrate secularists.

The demonization of Quebec nationalism harms all Canadians because it jeopardizes the fight for secularization.

Next blog: The Cult of Impotence

Secularism: Lockean and Republican


In this blog I explain briefly two major, competing approaches to secularism: the Lockean which is merely a dilute form of religious neutrality and closely resembles “open” secularism and multiculturalism; and the republican, which is far superior because it involves true separation between religions and state.

Sommaire en français Dans ce blogue je présente deux principales variantes concurrentes de la laïcité : celle de Locke qui n’est qu’une forme diluée de la neutralité religieuse et ressemble bien à la laïcité dite « ouverte » et au multiculturalisme ; et la républicaine, grandement supérieure, car elle implique une totale séparation entre religions et État.

Different cultures have varying strengths and weaknesses. The tradition of secularism is the English-speaking world is notoriously weak. This may be partly a consequence of the great success which the British monarchy—that ridiculous anachronism ultimately based on “divine right”—has had in surviving by evolving towards constitutional monarchy while maintaining the royal family’s star status. But more important, although less fashionable, is the heritage of the philosophy of John Locke.

In his famous A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), Locke proposed a society and a government which tolerated all religions, including “Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, Arminians, Quakers” and indeed “neither Pagan nor Mahometan, nor Jew, ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion.” Nevertheless, he excluded those religions which failed to tolerate others, which effectively excluded Catholics as they could be expected to hold allegiance to a foreign prince. Locke was also resolutely atheophobic:

Lastly, those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all; besides also, those that by their atheism undermine and destroy all religion, can have no pretence of religion whereupon to challenge the privilege of a toleration.

A Letter Concerning Toleration, full text.

Locke is probably the reference for secularism in the English speaking world, but I would call his vision pseudo-secularism because of its assumption that everyone with any concept of ethics, any right to live in society with others, has a religion, and indeed a theistic religion. Indeed, Locke’s approach is no more than limited religious neutrality, including neither neutrality between belief and non-belief nor separation between religion and state. His atheophobia is a deal-breaker. His vision sounds a lot like the USA—indeed, the first amendment of the US constitution, beginning with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” is Lockean in its inspiration—but with greater persecution of atheists.

Lockean pseudo-secularism also bears a strong resemblance to both “open secularism” (the adjective “open” effectively negating the word it modifies) and multiculturalism, both of which attach greater importance to religious affiliation than to citizenship. As a result, religious privilege is implicit and inevitable in all three, because they all give priority to religious belief over non-belief.

The Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) programme in the public schools of Quebec is another example of Lockean pseudo-secularism, because it teaches that everyone has a religion, or at least should have one, and largely ignores non-believers. Worse, ERC tends to describe religious communities as monolithic and static and identifies them more with fundamentalist tendencies—rather than modernist tendencies—within each religion.

However, in other cultures, other variants of secularism are proposed. In particular, the French tradition of “laïcité” is probably the most advanced and enlightened form of secularism so far developed. One of the most important contemporary proponents of this form, which I will call republican secularism, is the philosopher Henri Peña-Ruiz. He advocates a total separation between religion on one hand, and the state and schools on the other. He classifies religions as “spiritual options” and gives the same status to agnosticism and atheism.

Although I do not agree 100% with the approach to secularism put forward by Peña-Ruiz, because I do not see atheism as on a par with religious belief, nevertheless I recognize that his laïcité is far superior to the dilute religious neutrality of Locke which does not even allow for atheism. My own approach to secularism is described in the talk The Relationship Between Atheism and Secularism which I gave at a colloquium in Beirut in April of 2012. See also Does Secularism Imply Religious Neutrality?

If the term multiculturalism had any positive, constructive meaning in Canada, then English-Canadians who consider themselves to be secularists would be motivated to study secular traditions in other countries—France, Turkey (where Erdogan is currently undermining the secular heritage of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk), Mexico and others—and consider the possibility that perhaps the English tradition is not quite as wonderful and superior as they initially assumed. Unfortunately, most have not done this and thus remain mired in that initial false assumption.

Of course this does not mean that one must follow slavishly what has been implemented in France or any other country whose version of secularism provides examples to guide us. Every country is unique and differences are inevitable. In France for example, face-coverings are forbidden everywhere in public. Such a measure may not be necessary in Canada, at least not yet, although it remains an option to be considered. Certainly it is insane to allow face-coverings in official functions such a citizenship ceremonies.

The Charter of Secularism proposed by the Quebec government in 2013-2014 was inspired by the republican tradition. Some adversaries of that Charter were apparently advocating a model of secularism in the Lockean tradition, although many did not present it as such. Rather, often in a de facto alliance with fundamentalist Muslims and Islamofascists, many indulged in specious and dishonest accusations of “intolerance”, “Islamophobia” or “racism” against the Charter and its supporters rather than engage in an honest debate about different types of secularism.

Next blog: “Hate Quebec, Hate Secularism

How to Reassure a Concerned Citizenry … and how NOT to

A Thought Experiment


Sommaire en français

J’évoque l’exemple d’un pays hypothétique dans lequel un petit groupe d’intégristes chrétiens a obtenu, par des moyens purement légaux, le privilège de faire une courte prière au début de chaque séance journalière de l’assemblée nationale. Je compare cet exemple fictif avec le scénario tristement réel où des intégristes islamistes ont obtenu le privilège de se soustraire à une règle gérant les cérémonies de cityonneté et ce, pour des motifs religieux.
La solution évidente et nécessaire : modifier la loi pour que cette exception ne soit plus permise.
Ce qui est totalement ridicule dans cette affaire, c’est que les gens qui veulent mettre fin à ce privilège religieux et osent appuyer l’idée d’une prohibition sont traités d’« intolérants » et même de « racistes ». C’est le monde à l’envers.

In the fictional country X, a small group of fundamentalist Christians has just taken advantage of a loophole in X’s legislation and won a legal victory which allows them to hold a brief prayer at the beginning of every day’s session of the country’s legislative assembly. Although perfectly legal according to the laws of X, this is clearly a violation of everyone else’s freedom of conscience and a privilege granted to a particular religion, Christianity. The population of X is, in a very large proportion, opposed to this situation. So-called moderate Christians are divided on the issue: some sympathize with the fundamentalists, but many recognize that this situation is unfair and reject this unwanted privilege. A degree of hostility towards Christians begins to manifest itself in public opinion. Although no recent cases of anti-Christian hate propaganda or violence have been confirmed, there is fear—among both authorities and the population itself—that such incidents may in the near future begin to occur. What is to be done?

The answer is obvious. Doing nothing is not an option. The government must introduce legislation which will put an end to this privilege by removing from the laws of the land whatever it was that allowed the fundamentalists to win it. At the same time, it must make sure that the new legislation in no way threatens the freedom of Christians or any other sect to practice their religion as they always have—in private, with co-religionists, or even in public, but NOT in public institutions such as the legislature. The media also have a duty, the same duty they have always had, to report events and facts objectively. They may very well be sceptical of any new legislation which the government proposes, so they should examine it in detail, of course, in order to determine whether it is as fair as promised, or whether it goes too far, or not far enough. As for those “moderate” Christians, any who sympathize with the fundamentalists must be made to understand that they are part of the problem because their support enables their more radical co-religionists.

Canada has just gone through a situation very similar to the hypothetical one described above. In our real scenario the religion is fundamentalist Islam, not fundamentalist Christianity, and, instead of a brief prayer, the privilege accorded is the wearing of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies. Now some might argue that prayers and full veils have nothing in common. They would be wrong, because each is being imposed on a civic event by an appeal to religious privilege: the Christians demand the privilege of reciting a sectarian prayer before an assembly whose purpose should be to represent all citizens, whereas the Islamists insist on a special exception, for religious reasons, to a rule against face-coverings during official ceremonies. Each of these demands involves a religious manifestation in an inappropriate context. It is true that wearing the niqab does not necessarily take up other participants’ time (although it might, because of extra time required to verify identity). However the niqab is worse in that it imposes a serious barrier to human communication and interaction, indeed it is a refusal to participate fully with other citizens.

As I write these lines, the 2015 federal election campaign is drawing to an end. Today, October 19th, is election day. By the time you read this, it will be over, but the niqab issue will almost certainly not be resolved. And even if it were, similar issues are sure to rear their ugly heads in the months and years to come. This controversy is no isolated incident. The problem will not go away on its own.

So how did authorities react in this real situation? The government’s response went in the right direction—i.e. they plan to appeal, yet again, the court decision ending the niqab ban—but inadequately so. The appeal cannot succeed because the ban is based on a mere ministerial directive. What is really needed is legislation to modify the Citizenship Act at least, and probably other laws as well. On the other hand, the response of both opposition parties was worse: a promise to do NOTHING, to capitulate to religious fanaticism and religious privilege, to allow the niqab. End of story.

As for the media, their response to the crisis was much worse still. Most English-language media, as far as I could tell, failed to evaluate and criticize objectively the government’s action and fell totally into line with the complacency of the Trudeau Liberals and the Mulcair NDP. Furthermore, the media undertook a campaign of denigration of supporters of a ban on the niqab, accusing them of intolerance and even racism (since when is Islam a “race”?), painting them all with the same brush as the Conservative government. This campaign was directed not only against the government party but also against anyone who did not tow the line that wearing the niqab anywhere and everywhere is an inalienable “right.”

The campaign became so intense that we can legitimately qualify it as hate propaganda against secularists and against anyone who holds that religion has no place in state institutions. Instead of championing the voices of Muslims or ex-Muslims who understand why the niqab must not be allowed to become commonplace, the media have given priority to those who play the victim—often hidjab-wearing women—and sympathize with the radicals. The example of three recent articles (See “Three Examples of Inflammatory Nonsense in the Media” at the end of this blog) is sufficient to establish this point. One author even made the utterly surreal claim that the niqab ban is like the residential school system where First Nations children were mistreated.

Returning to the hypothetical example of the Christian prayer for a moment, it is as if anyone who opposed the prayer were accused of “racism” against Christians, whatever that might mean. Christianity is a “race”? Totally ludicrous.

This is obviously NOT the way to reassure the Canadian population. Because of this overwhelming attitude of hostility towards taking any reasonable measure to resolve the niqab issue, the anxiety among the population is not only left to fester, indeed it has been actively inflamed. The Canadian citizenry, especially in Quebec where secularism is more solidly supported, is understandably very upset about this situation, they are sick and tired of being insulted and vilified for their eminently reasonable anxiety about radical Islamists, and they are taking creative measures—such as wearing bizarre face-coverings at advance polling stations—in order to protest and express their outrage.

In summary, both the two opposition parties and the media have failed miserably to do their duty. Instead, they have made a difficult situation even worse, and have increased the danger that acts of hateful violence may occur.

Recently the Conservative government indicated that, if re-elected, it will consider legislation to require removal of any face-covering when working as a public servant or receiving public services as a citizen. This is obviously a good idea, especially for employees on the job. It would be unacceptable for a public servant to hide his or her face, especially behind a symbol of a religious sect. But why is the government proposing this now, at the very last minute of an election campaign, when they could have done so years ago? The media, rather than ask this necessary question, have instead reacted with ever more specious accusations of persecution of Muslims.

Have we gone down a rabbit-hole and entered some crazy parallel universe where up is down, in is out, green is pink, and religious privilege is a “right”? Canadians who have been duped by the pro-niqab propaganda of the Liberal Party and the NDP—and the media who malign any reasonable constraint on religious fanatics—need to return to reality.

All federal politicians must do the right thing: reassure the public by taking reasonable measures to stem the tide of fundamentalist influence, including banning face-coverings in official ceremonies and public services, and by banning blatant displays of religious symbols by public servants while on duty.

Three Examples of Inflammatory Nonsense in the Media

  1. Can Stephen Harper stoop any lower on the niqab?, editorial, The Toronto Star, 2015-10-07.
  2. ‘Little Mosque’ creator says niqab ban repeats mistakes of Canada’s past, CBC News, 2015-10-07.
  3. Fifty years in Canada, and now I feel like a second-class citizen, Sheema Khan, The Globe and Mail, 2015-10-07.

Next blog: Secularists Have Nothing to Celebrate

Trudeau & Mulcair Can Easily Resolve the Niqab Issue


This blog is very brief, a short text which I posted earlier today on Facebook.

Sommaire en français J. Trudeau et T. Mulcair pourraient très facilement résoudre la controverse autour du niqab et poser un beau geste non partisan, un geste pour la laïcité contre la division, si chacun annonçait que, une fois élu, il présenterait promptement un projet de loi interdisant de se couvrir le visage durant les cérémonies officielles. Qu’attendent-ils ?

The Trudeau Liberals and the Mulcair NDP could resolve the niqab kerfuffle in a heartbeat, if they had the simple will to do so. All they have to do is announce that, if elected, they will promptly introduce new legislation to ban face-coverings in official ceremonies. This would immediately have the following effects:

  • Reassure the population that federal politicians are taking some action to stop the encroachment of Islamist extremism in Canada, thus greatly reducing the danger of any anti-Muslim sentiment.
  • Destroy any attempt by the Harper Conservatives to exploit the niqab issue for partisan electoral ends.
  • Take many votes away from the Conservatives, i.e. the votes the Conservatives gained because of this one issue, given that the majority of Canadians favour a ban on face-coverings, thus increasing the chances of Harper being defeated.
  • Show that all three major federal parties can act in a non-partisan manner for the greater good.
  • AND THEY WOULD BE DOING THE RIGHT THING, by taking a principled stand for secularism and against religious fanaticism and religious privilege.

So what are Trudeau and Mulcair waiting for?

Next blog: How to Reassure a Concerned Citizenry … and how NOT to

Thoughts on the Niqab

2015-10-13 @ 13:00

A collection of observations about the current controversy surrounding the niqab, which recently received legal recognition in two Canadian federal court decisions. Wearing the niqab while taking the citizenship oath is now a “right.”

Sommaire en français

  • Parler du niqab comme un vêtement “musulman” comme font constamment les médias anglophones Canadiens, c’est déplacer le centre de la diversité des musulmans vers l’extrémisme. C’est une insulte faite aux musulmans plus modérés.
  • Il y plusieurs raisons (chacune étant suffisante) d’interdire le niqab dans les cérémonies officielles : (1) Le niqab entrave la communication. (2) Il symbolise l’asservisement de la femme. (3) Il compromet la liberté de conscience des autres participants de la cérémonie. (4) Il est une forme de militantisme politique fasciste, totalement déplacé dans le contexte. (5) Il nuit à l’identification de la personne et à la sécurité de tous.
  • Le seul argument pour permettre le port du niqab dans les cérémonies est l’ensemble des lois fédérales canadiennes qui sont défectueuses car elles accordent une priorité indue à la religion. Il faut modifier ou abroger ces lois.
  • Les autres pseudo-arguments pour permettre le niqab sont d’une nullité totale et souvent mensongers. On essaie de culpabiliser les gens qui s’opposent au niqab pour une opinion tout à fait raisonnable.
  • Le « débat » sur le niqab—qui n’est pas un débat mais plutôt une campagne toxique de dénigrement de la laïcité—est une reprise de la controverse autour de la défunte Charte de la laïcité en 2013-2014, avec la différence qu’on ne peut comparer le Parti Québécois (qui a pris une position pro-laïcité) aux Conservateurs de Harper (qui n’ont rien de laïque).
  • La reconnaissance légale du port du niqab en tout lieu et en toute cironstance est une grande victoire pour l’islamofascisme et une grande défaite pour la démocracie.
  • Comble d’ironie, ce n’est pas Harper qui est en train de mettre le dernier clou dans le cercueil de la bonne réputation internationale qu’avait le Canada avant le début de son régime en 2006. Non, ce sont ses adversaires Mulcair et Trudeau qui s’opposent sottement à l’interdiction du niqab qui font maintenant du Canada la risée de la planète.

Moving the Muslim Mainstream Towards Islamism

By refering to the full veil—such as the niqab—as “Muslim” clothing, as the media repeatedly do, they effectively move the “centre” or mainstream of Muslims down the spectrum towards extremism. This is because the niqab is not just plain Muslim dress, rather it is a form of clothing imposed by a particular radical fundamentalist fringe of Islam, usually referred to as Islamism. If the niqab is now considered representative of Islam, then Islam is now centred around radical Islamism. This does a serious disservice to moderate Muslims, because it colours them with the same radical brush as the extremists.

The Arguments for Banning the Niqab During Official Ceremonies

Of course the wearing of face coverings during official ceremonies must be banned. It is utterly absurd to even consider allowing such accoutrements in the context of a solemn occasion such as a citizenship ceremony. There are several arguments to be made, any one of which is sufficient to justify a ban:

  1. Communication In human interaction, non-verbal communication via facial expression is a major component (about half) of the total communication. By hiding the face or most of it, the niqab-wearer refuses to communicate effectively. That individual is cut off from other humans by the virtual wall she or he is wearing, seriously undermining interactions with others. Human beings are social animals. A person who covers her/his face is a person not to be trusted.
  2. Rights of Women The full Islamist veils such as the burka and the niqab are blatant symbols of the subjugation and inferiorization of women. It is a flag of gender inequality and transmits the message that women are the property of men.
  3. Freedom of Conscience of Participants By allowing one particular group to display blatantly one of its sectarian symbols during an official ceremony, the freedom of conscience of all other participants is compromised by having a particular religious belief system imposed on them. Allowing such religious advertising in a context which is a state occasion totally unrelated to religion is similar to having large displays of commercial advertising in the classrooms of public schools.
  4. Political Activism in an Inappropriate Context Islamist fundamentalism is not just a religious tendency. It is a major and very dangerous political ideology with an anti-democratic program. Wearing the full veil constitutes implicit promotion of this fascist ideology. While this may be tolerated, for reasons of freedom of expression, outside of public institutions, such promotion is unacceptable during an official ceremony (or, similarly, if the wearer is a public servant on duty).
  5. Identity and Security Of course face-coverings make identification difficult and are thus a major security issue. No further explanation is required on this point.

There may be other arguments missing from the above list.

The Argument Against Banning the Niqab During Official Ceremonies

There is only one argument against banning the niqab, and it is not really an argument but rather a set of legal constraints. Canadian federal law is severely flawed and unjust because it grants many privileges to religions and to religious institutions. That is why judges have recently struck down the niqab ban, i.e. because Canadian law strongly supports such an interpretation. Freedom of religion is given a higher priority than other freedoms. The obvious solution is to change the law.

In the case of the niqab, the following modifications are required or highly recommended:

  • Repeal 17.1.b of the Citizenship Regulations, part of the Citizenship Act, which stipulates that the oath must be administered with “the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation thereof.”
  • Repeal (or greatly revise) the Multiculturalism Act, and remove references to it from other legislation, because Canadian multiculturalism is basically equivalent to cultural relativism. As writer and secular activist Djemila Benhabib has pointed out (in a Facebook post, Oct. 10), “Multiculturalism quite simply legitimizes, in the political, judicial and social spheres, inequalities which originate in the culture and religion of one’s birth. Given that it is founded on the recognition of religions and the assignment by default of each individual to his or her immutable birth identity, any constraint on religious expression is usually interpreted as a hindrance to freedom of religion per se, as discriminatory, or even as racist. From that perspective, the various fundamentalisms have found an ideal vehicle and an open road to advance their cause!” (Translation: D.R.)
  • Revise the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to remove its pro-religious bias. For example, the Charter lists freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of belief as three of several fundamental freedoms. However, the last two are NOT fundamental; rather, both are part of freedom of conscience, which also includes freedom FROM religion and freedom of NON-belief. Thus, freedom of conscience should be listed as fundamental, while freedoms of religion, irreligion, belief and non-belief should all be listed as corollaries of it.

The last of these three modifications would be very difficult to achieve because it involves amending the Constitution. The first two would be less difficult, but not easy. Once again, the above list may need to be expanded. For example, the Criminal Code needs to be revised by removing both the blasphemy ban and the religious exception for hate propaganda. And of course the mention of “God” must be removed from the preamble to the Canadian Charter.

Some Pseudo-arguments Against Banning the Niqab During Official Ceremonies

The Binary fallacy

This fallacy, called the “either-or” fallacy and other names, describes the false notion that there are only two possibles responses to a situation. In this case, you must either oppose Harper (and support the niqab as a “right”) or oppose the niqab, but not both. We can succinctly summarize this fallacy using the following pseudo-syllogism:

  1. Harper is evil.
  2. Harper hates the niqab.
  3. Therefore, the niqab is good

That sums up rather well the intellectual acuity (i.e. vacuity) of those who claim that the wearing of the niqab is a “right.” It makes as much sense as opposing the breathing of oxygen because Harper breathes oxygen.

Religious “Freedom”

The court decisions striking down the niqab ban and the discourse of those who support those decisions are riddled with references to freedom of religion which elevate that freedom above other considerations. This privilege must be refused. But to do so will require modifying legislation as explained above.

Specious Accusations of “Intolerance” etc.

Accusations of “divisiveness”, “identity politics”, “intolerance”, “xenophobia” and even “racism” are regularly thrown at supporters of a niqab ban. These accusations are pure bullshit, a smokescreen to distract from the speciousness and vacuity of arguments against the ban. In response to the fact that polls have shown that a majority of Canadians, and an overwhelming majority in Quebec, support a niqab ban, opponents of a ban blather about a “lack of understanding” of other cultures and a “lack of exposure” to diverse cultures, as if this majority were motivated only by ignorance. Yet these accusations come from those who never mention the very dangerous aspects of some very prominent variants of Islam; it is the accusers who display ignorance. Furthermore, the niqab itself is a barrier to knowledge of and interaction with others.

The Politics of Guilt

Closely related to the previous point is the tactic of trying to silence secularists—and anyone else who would try to put reasonable constraints on the excesses of religion—by instilling feelings of guilt. This is often phrased as “the politics of fear” as if fear were irrational or even a horrible sin. In reality, to fear religion in general and Islam in particular is in no way irrational. On the contrary it is a matter of due diligence, a necessity. When that due diligence is performed, when we make the effort to examine various religious doctrines and movements objectively, we find many of which we should indeed be very afraid, and Islam is currently at the top of that list. A particularly disgusting example of this strategy can be found in the Toronto Star Editorial Can Stephen Harper stoop any lower on the niqab?. They even manage to slander Quebec.

Extreme Libertarianism

The dangerous meme which states that wearing a full veil anywhere and everywhere is a “right” is related to an extreme version of the ideology of libertarianism or right-wing anarchism. This ideology holds that the only good government is basically no government, or the smallest and weakest possible. Consequently, it leads inevitably to the tyranny of the rich and powerful. For example, if a country has no legislation preventing foreign powers from financing religious institutions, then that country is a sitting duck for the Saudi Arabian government (which internally is certainly not libertarian!) and its very well financed campaign to use petro-dollars to establish mosques in many countries and use them to preach a Wahhabite version of Islam.

The Niqab “Debate” is a Repeat of Opposition to Quebec’s Charter of Secularism

There is a strong parallel between the currently proposed niqab ban and the Charter of Secularism proposed in 2013-2014 by the former PQ Quebec government. In both cases there is no real debate, but rather toxic hostilities and moralizing from those who oppose any dress code. Supporters of a dress code are vilified, accused of the usual plethora of imaginary crimes (“intolerance”, etc.) taken from the familiar arsenal of Canadian multiculturalists. In both cases opponents elevate “freedom of religion” to a status having priority over other freedoms and then call this privilege a “right.”

Of course there are also differences between the two situations. The separatism (or sovereignty or independence) promoted by the PQ is an innocuous political program compared to the anti-science, anti-environmentalist and anti-democratic policies pursued by the current federal government. Antipathy towards the PQ is largely just a matter of hatred of Quebecers, i.e. ethnic bigotry (which in other contexts many people would imprecisely call “racism”) against Francophone Quebecers, whereas antipathy towards Harper’s Conservatives has a much more rational basis. Voting for the Parti Québécois in the April 2014 provincial election was an eminently reasonable option for secularists, whereas in the current federal election the niqab issue does not justify voting for Harper, especially given that his government’s attempts to ban the niqab—although laudable and certainly preferable to the cowardly and retrograde position of the two opposition parties—have nothing to do with secularist goals.

Nevertheless, it must be recognized that these questions of secularism—i.e. the Charter in April 2014 and the proposed niqab ban currently—must be distinguished from other, unrelated issues and evaluated on their own merits. A good idea is a good idea, even one coming from the much hated (and for good reasons) Harper government. There are many good reasons to vote against Harper, but the niqab issue is NOT one of them.

Democracy 0, Islamofascism 1

The recent success of Zunera Ishaq in obtaining the “right,” as ruled by two federal courts this year, to be sworn in as a Canadian citizen while wearing the niqab, is a major victory for Islamofascism and a major defeat for secularism, and hence a defeat for democracy, because it enshrines in Canadian jurisprudence an important religious privilege. Indeed, the courts’ rulings imply that Ishaq’s religious affiliation is more important even than the citizenship she is obtaining. By elevating religious privileges, the rights of the non-religious are demeaned; indeed the rights of everyone not belonging to the particular religious sect enjoying the privilege is similarly demeaned.

The niqab, like the burka, is a sort of flag of international islamofascism and Ishaq, whether she realizes it or not, is in the vanguard of that movement. The niqab is of course a Muslim symbol, but promoted by the most fundamentalist, radical and extremist of Muslims. To trivialize the full veil, to make it commonplace, a mere choice of clothing, while simultaneously elevating it to the status of a “right” which must be protected in the name of freedom of religion—even in a solemn ceremony having nothing to do with religion—is a major victory for fundamentalists. It is a victory won without physical weapons, using only legalities, to destroy rights using “rights.” It is a victory made very easy by Canadian multiculturalism, which leaves the door wide open for abuse.

The Islamists must be laughing all the way to the mosque.

Canada’s Ruined International Reputation

After a decade of government by the Harper Conservatives, Canada’s formerly enviable reputation in the international community is almost destroyed. But, ironically, the final nail in the coffin of that reputation is being hammered not by Harper but by the fools who oppose his policy of attempting to ban the niqab. By supporting the ridiculous idea that a religious fanatic and political activist for an international fascist movement has the “right” to wear a symbol of her or his movement, anywhere and everywhere, even during a solemn state ceremony, Mulcair, Trudeau and other niqab-defenders have made sure that Canada is now the laughing stock of the planet.

Suggested reading:

Next blog: Trudeau & Mulcair Can Easily Resolve the Niqab Issue

Secularism Versus the Multicultis

2015-07-23, last modified 2015-07-24

Sommaire en français La diversité culturelle est un fait incontournable de la vie et, comme la diversité biologique, une richesse. Il y a plusieurs façons de gérer cette diversité, les deux principales — distinctes et mutuellement incompatibles — étant le multiculturalisme et la laïcité. Le multiculturalisme se fonde sur le relativisme culturel, sur ce qui divise les gens, et associe l’individu à la communauté ethno-religieuse dans laquelle il est né. Il favorise les traditionalistes dans chacune de ces communautés, au détriment des croyants plus modérés, des incroyants et de la société en général. L’affaire du niqab dans les cérémonies de citoyenneté en est un exemple. La laïcité, par contre, accorde la priorité aux libertés et valeurs humaines, à ce que nous avons tous en commun. Elle rejette le privilège religieux. Elle n’accorde aux croyances religieuses aucune préséance. Les islamistes, ou plus exactement les islamofascistes, prônent la théocratie pure et dure dans les pays où ils ont suffisamment d’influence politique. Mais ailleurs, ils instrumentalisent le multiculturalisme, adoptant frauduleusement le langage des « droits » et de la « liberté religieuse » afin de s’approprier des privilèges religieux. Juste avant le début du processus de l’adoption formelle du multiculturalisme, il y a plusieurs décennies, le terme « biculturalisme » était très à la mode, mais dans l’espace de quelques années il a été totalement éclipsé par le multiculturalisme. Cherchait-on à noyer la culture de la moins dominante de ces deux cultures fondatrices du Canada dans une mer à multiples cultures ? Le comportement des multiculturalistes durant le débat sur la Charte de la laïcité, défaite en 2014 par une alliance de circonstance — c’est-à-dire une convergence d’intérêts et de propagande — entre eux et les islamistes, nous a fourni la réponse définitive à cette question. Le multiculturalisme, idéologie dominante au Canada, est devenu un outil de choix pour étaler son mépris pour le Québec et pour les Québécois. De plus, le multiculturalisme est l’arme la plus importante dans la lutte contre la laïcité.

According to Wiktionary, the term multiculti is an informal, derogatory word for “one who pushes multicultural beliefs and values in a politically correct way.” The derogatory connotation is certainly appropriate, because multiculturalism is highly problematic and a major obstacle for secularism.

By the way, Wiktionary defines “multiculturalism” as “The characteristics of a society, city etc. which has many different ethnic or national cultures mingling freely; political or social policies which support or encourage such coexistence.” I disagree with this definition. The first half (the free mingling of cultures) is closer to a definition of “cultural diversity” (confusing the two is a common mistake), whereas the second half is just false in my opinion. Indeed, multiculturalism as practiced in Canada does a rather bad job of supporting or encouraging such coexistence, as I shall explain.

Cultural diversity is an essential part of the human experience. It has been with us since the dawn of time. Ever since neighbouring hominid tribes found themselves with overlapping territory — which probably occurred long before our current species homo sapiens evolved into existence — we have been rubbing shoulders with others of the same species but different races, different languages, different cultures. We will, I assume, continue to experience similar diversity as long as humanity survives. Or at least I hope we will, since cultural diversity, like biological diversity, is a source of enrichment. Nevertheless, managing such diversity — whether cultural or biological — has its challenges.

Multiculturalism and secularism are two distinct and incompatible ways of managing cultural diversity. Trying to reconcile multiculturalism with secularism is like trying to make religion and science compatible. It is an impossible task.

Multiculturalism stresses cultural relativism. It gives priority to what divides us, associating the individual with the particular ethno-religious community into which he or she was born. The ultimate expression of multiculturalism is Lebanon, where even the national philharmonic orchestra must respect religious sectarian quotas when hiring musicians. Multiculturalists pander to such communities, thus favouring and empowering traditionalists and fundamentalists — to the detriment of moderate believers, non-believers and society in general.

One particularly egregious example of how multiculturalism and its multiculti cheerleaders empower fundamentalists — of both minority and majority religions — is the Federal Court decision to allow the niqab, a blatant symbol of a powerful international fascist movement, to be worn during Canadian citizenship hearings. Just as even a broken clock displays the correct time twice a day, the anti-science and pro-Christian-fundamentalist Harper government did the right thing and decided to appeal that decision. They undoubtedly did so for the wrong reasons — probably religious bigotry, in this case a pro-Christian, anti-Muslim prejudice. Nevertheless, doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is still better than doing the wrong thing, which is precisely what the opposition did. The leaders of both major opposition parties — T. Mulcair of the NDP and J. Trudeau of the Liberals — made the spectacularly stupid decision to support the court in allowing the niqab and criticized the Harper Conservatives for its appeal. Thus, the political “left” (if we can still call it that, given its betrayal of secularism) and the political centre united in handing a huge gift to the Christian right. Harper will in all likelihood garner many votes from frustrated Canadians who are justifiably outraged that religious fanatics are being allowed to show such contempt for Canadian citizenship and that Mulcair and Trudeau are helping them to do so! Both Christian and Muslim fundamentalists benefit.

Multiculturalism and secularism are two distinct and incompatible ways of managing cultural diversity.

Secularism, on the other hand, stresses universal human rights and values. It gives priority to what unites us, our common humanity. It rejects religious privilege. In public services it refuses to accommodate traits which are mere choices, such as political opinions or religious beliefs — but of course it must and will accommodate more innate characteristics, i.e. objective factors, such as genetics, gender, health status, sexual orientation, etc.

There are other ways of managing cultural diversity. Perhaps the most common (other than the two ways which form the subject of this blog) is the traditional method — or rather methods — of theocracy. These can range all the way from brutally repressive theocracies such as Saudi Arabia which “manages” diversity basically by crushing it, all the way to soft neo-theocracies such as constitutional monarchies which were very repressive in the past but have evolved towards multiculturalism.

It is important to understand that islamists — whom we may also call islamofascists — favour the most draconian form of theocracy possible wherever they hold sufficient power, but pretend to support multiculturalism — or rather they use it as a tool to advance their cause — in countries where their power is not yet sufficient, deceitfully employing the language of “rights” and “freedom of religion” in order to accumulate what are in reality religious privileges. The multicultis are the dupes of the islamists, as the example of the niqab amply illustrates.

Many secularists have written extensively about multiculturalism. (Read a few articles by Maryam Namazie for example.) Its inherent dangers have been discussed and documented for years now. Anyone who still refuses to understand is being wilfully ignorant.

The important distinction between cultural diversity and multiculturalism is often deliberately blurred in order to justify vilifying anyone who criticizes the latter.

The history of formalized multiculturalism in Canada goes back nearly half a century. The government of P. E. Trudeau declared in 1971 that Canada would adopt it as policy. In 1982 it was recognized in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and finally the Canadian Multiculturalism Act was enacted by the government of B. Mulroney. But what many Canadians forget, or are too young to remember, is that just before that process began, the terms “bilingualism” and “biculturalism” were on everyone’s lips in political discussions. In 1963, the L. B. Pearson government established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism to inquire into the situation of Canada’s two founding cultures, the English and French. But within a few years, the term “biculturalism” had practically disappeared, having been supplanted by multiculturalism. It certainly looked like the recognition of a multiplicity of cultures had been engineered in order to drown the less dominant of the two founding partners in a sea of competing cultures.

In 2014, the Quebec Charter of Secularism, one of the best pieces of secular legislation ever proposed in any jurisdiction in Canada, was defeated by an alliance of multiculturalists and islamists. I am not talking about any formal, organizational alliance, but rather a simple convergence of interests and propaganda. Both groups engaged in specious accusations of “racism,” “xenophobia,” “intolerance” or “islamophobia” whenever they encountered opposition. During the Charter fiasco, the overriding tone of Charter opponents, especially outside Quebec, and a favourite strategy of both multicultis and islamists, was a fanatical hatred of Quebec nationalism. This strategy served to distract from the real issue, which of course was secularism.

The main ideological weapon of anti-secularists today is multiculturalism.

And that is the dirty little secret about multiculturalism, or at least its particularly noxious Canadian variant: it is a weapon very frequently used to “bash” (figuratively speaking, of course) Quebec and Quebeckers. Multiculturalism is very popular — so much so as to be a sacred cow — in Canada outside Quebec, but much less popular inside Quebec where secularism enjoys greater popular support. As multicultis typically flatter themselves about how non-racist and tolerant they claim to be (because they fail to understand that multiculturalism is not a solution for racism but rather a close cousin of it), they easily slip into a habit of denigrating Quebec secularists for their “intolerance,” etc. The important distinction between cultural diversity and multiculturalism is often deliberately blurred in order to justify vilifying anyone who criticizes the latter. In other words, multiculturalism has become a vehicle for ethnic bigotry directed against French-speaking Quebeckers. If there were ever any doubt about this, it was completely erased by the obnoxious behaviour of multicultis during the Charter debacle.

Multiculturalism is not only incompatible with secularism. Multiculturalism is the principal expression of anti-secularism in the 21st century. The main ideological weapon of anti-secularists today is multiculturalism. And it is, unfortunately, the dominant ideology in Canada.

Next blog: “Thoughts on the Niqab