Sunday, 15 September 2013

Le théâtre politique, Québec-style.

What is currently unfolding in La belle province is a spectacle.  It's not Grand Guignol yet, but given the inflammatory issues involved, it may yet descend to that.

The knives are certainly being sharpened, and they will be used judiciously to silence critics and opponents.

MP Maria Mourani was expelled from the Bloc Québécois caucus following comments she made about the proposed Quebec charter of values: la charte des valeurs québécoises.
In an interview with Radio-Canada on Wednesday, Mourani said Quebec's charter of values was a political miscalculation on the part of Premier Pauline Marois.

Mourani was making the comments as a spokesperson of a pro-sovereignist group in favour of secularism which calls itself "les indépendantistes pour une laïcité inclusive."

Bloc Québécois Leader Daniel Paillé said Mourani's comments are "irreconcilable" with the party's position.
The Parti Québécois claims that this Charter will unify all Quebecers within a secular state, one that is devoid of all image and symbols of adherence to religious beliefs.

Crucifixes prominently displayed on provincially funded public institutions are to be exempt from the Charter.  Its continued presence is defended as a valid historical and cultural artifact for the majority of Quebecers, in patronizing rhetoric uttered by Bernard Drainville.

Last year, PQ candidate Djamila Benhabib had the temerity to suggest, as a follow-up to the recommendations of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, that the MASSIVE crucifix hanging in the National Assembly be taken down.  She was attacked and
... forced by members of her own party to recant, she was castigated as a foreigner with alien values and an unpronounceable name by Saguenay mayor Jean Tremblay. Her crime? Not having enough cultural Catholicism to know that the principle of secularism only applies to other religions.
The crucifix is a reminder of the oppressive, authoritarian and violent power that the Catholic church wielded.  Many First Nations people and descendants of the survivors of La grande noirceur do not wax nostalgic about the crucifix.
...Charles Taylor, the well-known academic who co-chaired a provincial commission into reasonable accommodation in 2007, describes the proposal as an “absolutely terrible act of exclusion.” So the debate is on.

Former Quebec Premier Bernard Landry has lashed out at English Canadian media for “Quebec bashing” while covering the matter. Landry told CBC Radio’s As It Happens that Quebec welcomes immigrants but wants them to join society. “When you change country, you change country,” he said. “And you have to get first the language, then the culture and integrate.”

In the same interview, Landry even goes on to ridicule the idea of police wearing turbans, which harks back to the Reform Party’s 1989 convention resolution stating that Sikhs should be barred from wearing turbans in the RCMP.

Landry’s comments on religious accommodation obviously shift quickly to immigration policy although individuals barred from wearing religious symbols would likely include native-born Quebecers.
From here

I have been reading La Presse, Le Devoir, Le Droit and listening to Radio-Canada with regard to la Charte des valeurs québecoises almost non-stop since last Tuesday.  My head hurts from the intellectual dishonesty and contradictions advanced by those who support and vigorously defend la raison d'être of this project.

Yesterday I had a long chat with a neighbour who wears le hijab about faith, spiritual devotion and cultural adaptation, while we were waiting on OC Transpo.  On the bus, I noticed a young man of African ancestry who may have been an immigrant — or born in Canada as my neighbour was.  He wore un chapelet around his neck. This rosary was made of fluorescent green plastic.  It was quite ostentatious.

It reminded me of cab-drivers who prominently display cross or large medallions that feature Catholic saints.  These objects are usually dangling from rear-view mirrors.  I have asked a few of them:  Do you put these in your taxi so that customers will know that you are not a muslim?  The answer is always an embarrassed yes.

And why is there a photo of Tonto, as embodied by Johnny Depp at the beginning of this blog?

Publicity, even negative, is considered by public relations flaks to be a *good thing*.  Which is why the PQ leaked information about la Charte to engineer a "crisis" ahead of its release, and to provoke a negative reaction from the Rest of Canada.  A win/win situation for the PQ.

Like Depp's costume, la Charte is a shallow, histrionic contrivance designed to create a furor, and to disguise the inherent racism and white privilege oozing from this political tactic.

So. Islamophobia exists. Christian and white privilege exists in Canada.  Religious fundamentalists are using the same tactics as the PQ, framing the *problem* to suit their ideology as well as exploiting people's fear and anger.

Violence against women occurs all too frequently; it seems it's only when a crime is motivated by fundamentalist muslim patriarchal ideology that femicide is rigorously investigated and prosecuted according to existing laws.  When the killing of women is fuelled by christian fundamentalism, only feminists feel that the media should equally denounce it.

Fortunately Tabatha Southey rescued me from feeling as gloomy and grumpy as Depp seems — and I don't even have to choose to wear (or not) head-gear for business, cultural, religious or political reasons. 

“The state has no place interfering in the moral and religious beliefs of Quebecers,” Bernard Drainville, the minister responsible for the charter, said in a bid to explain its stated rationale.[...]

Mr. Drainville’s voice remained remarkably steady for a man who, we’re asked to believe, understood himself to be addressing the confused population of a province whose citizens have been soldiering on through what he called “a crisis.”

The crisis, he clarified in a follow-up interview, stems from the “tensions” and “much frustration” caused by the “clearly unreasonable religious accommodations” that minorities in the province have been granted on occasion.

By “tensions,” was he referring, for example, to a case this summer when a newspaper reported that Muslim and Jewish groups were allowed to bring their own food into the La Ronde amusement park – which offers no kosher or halal dining option? The outrage caused the park to forbid the practice.[...]

Last year, my mum lost her hair to chemotherapy. She found wearing a wig too uncomfortable to bear and so played around with a scarf for a while but was unhappy with the results.

“I was trying to achieve the graceful look I’d seen on Muslim women,” she told me, “but instead I looked like Princess Anne at the races.”

Eventually, she called the Islamic Society of Guelph and asked if someone could help her. “I’ll give you my wife’s cell number,” the man she spoke to said. “She’s awesome.” The two women met at the rec centre it turned out that they both frequent and my mother was scarf-schooled.

Just a reminder: the head covering worn by La Piéta is a *traditional* garment. 

It seems quaint now, just as the babushka certainly was when hundreds of Ukrainian Catholic women immigrated to Canada, their scarves firmly knotted under their chins.

A much earlier DJ! post about women being solidaires with women who choose to wear the hijab, here.


e.a.f. said...

Adjusting to the country you live in? First learning the language? Well the french and english in quebec certainly didn't do that. If they had, they'd be speaking the traditional languages of the First nations, Huron, Iroquos, etc.

If a woman wants to wear a hijab, that is her business, not mine. When I go into a government funded worksite all I'm concerned about is the service I receive. If a man wants to wear a turban its not my business. As long as he is doing his job, that is all I'm interested in.

lagatta à montréal said...

e.a.f., actually a lot of French settlers here did "Indianize", as it was put, and their children were certainly likely to speak more of their mother's tongue, as she was gathering closer to their dwelling whill dad was off hunting, trapping and trading. That is where "Les filles du Roi" came in.

Unknown said...

La fameuse question référendaire… quoi en penser ?

Comme vous le savez peut-être déjà, en plus de mon intérêt pour les affaires, je suis également un passionné d’économie et de politique. À l’approche des élections et devant la possibilité qu’un gouvernement péquiste majoritaire en ressorte, plusieurs aspects m’inquiètent. Laissez-moi partager avec vous mon point de vue sur les enjeux principaux de la campagne en espérant faire évoluer le débat et faire réfléchir.

J’aborderai donc différents thèmes qui me sont chers, soit l’économie, l’identité nationale et l’éducation. Commençons tout de suite avec le point le plus alarmant de la campagne actuelle: la question référendaire.

Je crois qu’en 2014, le concept de souveraineté est dépassé. Le fédéralisme est le modèle de prédilection pour une société florissante. Il permet de répondre à nos objectifs nationaux et régionaux tout en assurant la coexistence pacifique entre les différents groupes ethniques.

La souveraineté, un gouffre sans fin

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