As a former French colony, Quebec has made it clear that it intends to follow in the footsteps of its colonial racist forefathers. With the passage of Bill 62, Quebec politicians have proven just how far they will go to keep Muslim women and girls from wearing a veil. The practice of forcing Muslim females to reveal themselves is nothing new to the French. This practice is a throw back to French colonialism. Bigoted politicians such as Premier Philippe Couillard and Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee claim that this bill is about “religious neutrality”, but access to public services or work in government jobs are not denied to:
- Jews wearing a Yarmulke;
- Christians wearing crosses;
- Sikhs wearing religious head wear.
Politicians and people like Premier Philippe Couillard and Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee hold on to the old racist colonial belief that forcing Muslim females to remove their veils and reveal themselves makes the Muslim female more like Western females…making them less Barbaric…more civilized looking: more like them.
Politicians and people like Premier Philippe Couillard and Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee are of the belief that veils worn by Muslim females threaten Quebec’s reputation as a modern, civilized society.
Bill 62 does not represent “religious neutrality.” Bill 62 is an attempt to use secularism as a means for prejudiced ends.
Bigotry, white supremacy and ethnocide are being pushed from the highest level of government in Quebec. No type of intolerance, or racism should be seen, or tolerated in a country that declares itself to be a functioning Liberal Democracy. Yet Canada’s federal government takes no action when the Liberal government of Quebec passes a law that clearly violates the Canadian Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Bill 62, no matter the reason for its passing into law by the Quebec Liberal Party is a perfect example of a provincial government chipping away at the guaranteed rights and freedoms of Canadian citizens. The federal government’s continued refusal to protect, or even stand up for the rights of its own marginalised oppressed citizens, while sending troops, equipment , and providing financial aid to support the marginalized citizens of foreign nations hypocritical.
Prime Minister Trudeau through his unwillingness to stand up for the rights of all Canadians regardless of what province they live in is:
- breaking of the campaign promise that he made to ensure that all Canadians no matter race, ethnicity, religious choice, sexual preference, or gender, would be viewed and treated equally under the laws of Canada and within Canada’s borders, because we were all Canadians;
- an admission that the province of Quebec is not only a “distinct society”, but is in reality a separate sovereign nation and as such is under no obligation to abide by the laws of Canada;
- that being willing to sacrifice the linguistic, religious, cultural, and sexual rights of minorities, is the price the federal government is willing to pay to keep Canada a unified nation.
It is like the federal government is saying to Canadians:
- When in Quebec, the Quebec Charter dictates the rights and freedoms that you are entitled to;
- When in Quebec the laws of Quebec only the laws of Quebec matter.
- When in Quebec all rights guaranteed you under the Canadian Constitution, or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are subject to Quebec government approval.
- When within the borders of Quebec, your Canadian rights and freedoms are suspended, your Canadian citizenship is suspended and you are considered a citizen of Quebec and subject solely to their laws.
The government of Quebec even despite protests from its citizenry has decided to impose its anti Muslim bill. I say anti Muslim bill because it will for the most part target and deny Muslim veil wearing women and girls the use of public services offered within its borders to freely and without conditions to its other citizenry.
Premiere, Philippe Couillard and Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee have sworn that they will stand by the law and use the “Not Withstanding Clause” if necessary to ignore court decisions that go against them. In other words in Quebec one has the right to practice their religion freely as long as you are not a scarf wearing Muslim woman, or girl.
The Canadian federal government’s position is that it is not within their jurisdiction to fight for the rights guaranteed all Canadians in Canada found in the Canadian Constitution and the Canadian Charter of rights and Freedoms. Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau said, “Bill 62 is a Quebec internal problem, but the federal government will keep an eye on things.” Muslim women and girls are being forced to decide between following the tenets of their religion, or having access to services provide by the province such as, riding the bus, going to school, the hospital, or trying to use social services such as welfare and unemployment insurance, and the Prime Minister responsible for the well-being of all Canadians, says he will not fight for their guaranteed fundamental rights.
- Islamophobia, the racial and religious prejudice directed toward the Muslim “Other,” has had deep roots in French colonialism for centuries.
- Colonial powers, particularly the French under la mission civilisatrice, viewed women’s bodies as symbols of modernity.
- Colonizers believed that by symbolically ripping the veils off women’s bodies, thereby making them visibly Western, they could strip away the “backward” culture of the colonized.
- For Western imperialist powers, the status of women was and still is associated with whether or not women chose to adopt Western dress.
- In colonial Algeria, the French military often carried out mass unveiling ceremonies. These ceremonies had symbolic value as they demonstrated the subjugation of women, as well as the overall French subjugation of Algeria.
- The majority-Muslim Republic of Turkey discouraged veiling. They saw veiled women as an impediment to Turkey being recognized and accepted as a civilized nation.
- American politicians, celebrities and media justified American actions in Afghanistan by citing the urgent need to “liberate” Afghan women from the burqa, a traditional veil that became a symbol of Otherness.
Double standards and hypocrisy of Bill 62’s “religious neutrality.”
- In Quebec, someone will be able to wear sunglasses and a scarf on a metro, but a woman won’t be able to express her religious freedoms by donning a veil.
- In Quebec a crucifix hangs in the National Assembly, considered by the creators of Bill 62 to be an “intrinsic part of Quebec history.”
- Catholic Quebecers religious traditions are protected by the province, while Muslim Women and girls will be forced to recognize that the terms of their citizenship are dependent on the abandonment of their prior cultural and religious practices.
Bill 62 is a symbol of French colonialism that Quebec politicians are still clinging to. In the name of religious neutrality, Quebec is appropriating women’s bodies to reinforce a right-wing ideology, hoping to attract the Islamophobic Quebecers to vote for them.
The Quebec government is able to get away with creating laws like Bill 62, because of Canada’s refusal to recognize:
- its own colonial failures.
- the colonial failures of other global powers around the world.
Canada needs to:
- Do a lot better job of putting aside its colonial practices as a nation, before continuing to brag to the rest of the world about how great and welcoming a place it is for all.
- be honest and state that Canada, is only welcoming to people of the Christian faith, White, English, French, and are of European decent, that make up the majority of it citizenry.
- be fair and make all other nationalities know that they too are welcome to immigrate to Canada, as long as they leave their religion and cultural practices behind.
Democratic governance means very little without what are considered the rights and freedoms of a Liberal Democracy.
A liberal democracy is supposed to include elements such as political pluralism; equality before the law; the right to petition elected officials for redress of grievances; due process; civil liberties; human rights; and elements of civil society outside the government. Canada professes to be Liberal Democracy. Unfortunately Canada has been chipping away at the spirit and the principles mentioned above at the federal, provincial and civic levels of governance for so long, that all that is left to our democracy is the right for every eligible Canadian to vote for the liar that appeals their personal values.
What good is a constitution that enshrines the rights of its citizens, such as:
- freedom of speech and expression;
- the right to protest and strike;
- the right to practice one’s religion and be treated equally under the law, can be altered, watered down and even taken away by politicians’ pandering to political voting blocs?
Core values and the spirit of democracy are what should set Canada’s governance apart from other forms of government.
Can Canada be considered a function “Liberal “Democracy”, when the provinces and territories ability ignore court rulings that find them in violation of the Canadian Constitution, or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, using the “Not Withstanding Clause”, is the only glue holding the country together politically?
Quebec gets away with racist activity, that is a throw back to the times of colonialism, because the federal government of Canada, allows it.