To the editor,
If you haven’t hear already, Quebec’s controversial “Charter of Values,” released by the Parti Québécois, would forbid public employees to wear “overt religious symbols” at work, including turbans, hijabs, burkas, kippahs, and “large” crosses. It seems to me whether or not you express your religious affiliation does not correlate with your competence. So what’s Quebec’s problem?
According to Bernard Drainville, the minister in charge of this charter: “If the state is neutral, those working for the state should be equally neutral in their image.”
In short, Quebec aims for religious neutrality….
That is excluding, of course, the crucifix in the highest chamber of the Quebec state. Not to mention that Christmas trees will remain a part of public institutions. In fact, under this proposed charter, crucifixes in the Quebec legislature and on top of Mount Royal, religiously based names of schools and hospitals, subsidies to private religious schools and opening prayers at municipal meetings would not be banned. The Parti Québécois justifies its hypocrisy by not calling the crucifix a religious symbol, but a “patrimonial artifact.”
Thus, by its very nature, this charter is targeting minorities. It will put minorities in a position of having to conform to a way that the majority finds acceptable.
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois has attempted to defend the charter by criticizing multiculturalism and suggesting it leads to terrorism. She has also said that women who wear hijabs and who work in daycares could be in positions to “incite children to practise religion.”
This statement by Premier Marois is decidedly bizarre. I do not believe that her fear of religious symbols is due to her willingness to ‘protect’ children from religion. If Muslim women who wear hijabs incite the practice of religion, don’t the displays of crucifixes in Quebec also incite the practice of religion? What about the fact that Christmas and Easter are accepted as civic holidays? Does that not place emphasis on religious practice?
The Parti Québécois is doing a disservice to children if they choose to shelter them from the display of religion. It is my firm belief that exposing children to multiculturalism can promote tolerance of different cultures.
Not to mention, freedom of religious expression is an essential part of individuality. This is especially important to me, because I happen to wear a hijab. If this freedom were to be taken away from me, so would my individuality and self-expression be stolen. But it goes further than that. My hijab is a fundamental part of the practice of my faith. This charter wouldn’t simply be robbing me of a religious symbol, but also condemning my faith.
No matter what Premier Marois says, this charter will not “unite the province.” How can Quebec become united if it targets its minorities and prohibits them from certain jobs simply for observing their religion? Canada is supposed to be a model of multiculturalism. If we allow ourselves to become divided by our differences; we have failed as a society.
Grade 12 student, Sydney Academy