Saturday, December 15, 2007

An Illogic and Incomplete Bill

Before the publication of Bouchard-Taylor Commission's report in March, Culture minister Christine St-Pierre proposed a bill to modify the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. According to the Bill 63, the equality between men and women must prevail especially when considering to make a religious accommodation.

The third paragraph of the Quebec Charter would be amended in order to be read like this: "[...] respect for the dignity of human beings, equality of women and men, and recognition of their rights and freedoms constitute the foundation of justice, liberty and peace." At the first look, this should really give more manoeuvre to Quebec's government in religious accommodations.

Indeed, many Quebeckers should be elated, because women's rights can no longer be mocked as we saw it many months ago. For instance, a female constable should have the rights to call out a Hasidim Jewish man. Should this bill be adopted, a religious accommodation can only be made only if it doesn't take out any right from the majority or women.

While looking at the present state of the Quebec Charter, Mrs. St-Pierre's Bill 63 gives even more clarity to our Charter. However, despite being fraught with good intentions toward women, the bill doesn't go far enough.

In fact, it doesn't propose anything to cancel once and for all religious accommodations granted under Quebec's jurisdiction. Above all, Quebec's Premier Jean Charest stubbornly shows to the population that he doesn't understand something: Quebeckers will never unanimously embrace religious accommodations.

The point here is not to say that the bill should never have been proposed. Evidently, St-Pierre should have proposed the amendment of the Quebec Charter's article 10. Of course, this amendment of the article 10 should propose the National Assembly to take out religion as a motive for claiming a "reasonable accommodation".

In short, over the past few months, most Quebeckers have not only been infuriated by the infringements to equality between men and women, but also against the total absence of separation between the state and the church. As long as religion is a motive to claim a "reasonable accommodation", it will always force the Quebec government to position itself in favour of religions.

In a nutshell, this society will never be secular if religion is kept in politics. Unfortunately, shame must be on Jean Charest because he doesn't understand that. Strange though it might sound, Charest will never admit that he's in favour of religions accommodations. No wonder why the Liberal Party of Quebec is falling low in public opinion.

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