PQ Charter of Values slammed internationally and locally

The controversial Charter of Quebec values proposed by the Parti Quebecois and being promoted on the taxpayer's dime is facing criticisms locally and internationally.

Amnesty International, a prominent international Human Rights organization, spoke out about the Charter, slamming it for restricting two fundamental human rights: freedom of expression and freedom of religion. The Charter would essentially break Canadian and International law.

One of the tenants of the Charter is to promote gender equality but Amnesty International refuted it saying the Charter will do little to enhance woman's rights but rather force some to quit their jobs.

Meanwhile, Democratic Minister Bernard Drainville took a beating on prominent political talk show Tout le Monde en Parle.

He explained to the audience and host Guy A. Lepage that "The reason we're proposing this is that if the state is neutral with respect to religion, then its representatives must be, too."

"You all have a right to equality, and that's why I as the state am imposing neutrality — it's the best way to protect freedom of religion and conscience."

When the hypocrisy of the PQ's decision to leave the crucifix, a religious symbol, in the National Assembly, Drainville responded, "The choice we made about the crucifix is that of our heritage, of history. There's still a lot of Quebecers who are still attached to this crucifix, not because they're particularly Christian or Catholic, but because they see it as a symbol of our people."

"Lots of people see a cultural symbol, a symbol of our history, and Quebecers are attached to that history and don't want to turn our backs on it."

Quebec sociologist and historian Gérard Bouchard, also slotted on the show, then blasted Drainville. Bouchard co-authored a report related to a commission into religious and cultural accommodations funded by the Quebec government five years ago.

"We took a meticulous look at the practice of accommodations and concluded it was going well," he said. "You launched yourself into this operation in ignorance of the reality."

Bouchard then drilled Drainville on what studies had been done to prove the Charter is necessary. Drainville replied that "representatives of teachers, school boards, people working in the health sector" and those who didn't know what to do with accommodations advised him on the matter.

Premier Pauline Marois has since appointed four out-spoken supporters of the charter to the Conseil du statut de la femme. The appointments would break a - gridlock and overrule the current chair, Julie Miville-Dechêne, appointed by the former Liberal government.

The four named are:

  • Julie Latour, a lawyer who presented a brief for Les Intellectuels pour la laïcité at National Assembly hearings on a Liberal bill to require women wearing the niqab, Islamic face covering, to uncover their faces when giving or receiving government services. 
  • Leila Lesbet, an Algerian-born teacher who has spoken publicly in favour of secularism. 
  • Ann Longchamps, a nurse and president of the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale, which called for a charter of secularism in 2010. 
  • Lucie Martineau, president of Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec, the first organization to publicly endorse the PQ charter of values. Martineau also supported Bill 14, the PQ's language bill, saying civil servants now are forced to speak English in offering government services.
Source: The Gazette
Meanwhile, the Charter Marois said would unite Quebecers has led to protests on either side and massive division. In one of the protests supporting the Charter, immigrants were hassled and told to "go home." Recently, prominent cultural buildings in Montreal have been vandalized, likely caused by radicals who have been provoked by the debate around the charter. In one incident, a woman wearing a headscarf on a Montreal bus was told "you should have stayed in your country. We are going to take off your toque." In another, a Saguenay mosque was covered in pig's blood.

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