Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Just read the title that says it all. Just kidding. Speaking about what was at the centre of the discussions on this blog, I just hope that this year has been very amazing for both you, dear readers, and I. Let's just hope that the better things are awaiting us and our life be filled with enjoyable laughter.

Yours friendly,

Anh Khoi Do

Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Unconvincing Conversion

Up until yesterday, Justin Trudeau has always upheld that Quebec doesn't need to be recognized "as a distinct society in the Constitution or [...] as a nation". Obviously, while he said that Quebec is a "nation", Trudeau still looks unconvincing.


Justin Trudeau's new declaration implies that he now understands the legitimacy of nationalism in this society. However, nobody will be convinced of such a radical change of stance.

As someone who blindly defends his late father's legacy, Justin Trudeau never showed any sympathy for the concept of nationalism. In fact, it's hard to believe him, because he has always accused nationalists (Canadian and Quebecker, as well) of displaying a "smallness of thoughts". In short, insulting people who are advocating nationalism is Justin Trudeau's favourite sport.

In the end, it is Trudeau who displays a "smallness of thoughts", because he believes that nationalism is inextricably related to racism in all circumstances. What a strange way to understand Quebec, and by extension the rest of Canada! The son of former Prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau may try to be in touch with reality, but he's just out of sync with it.

Moreover, saying that Quebec is a "nation" won't make Quebeckers like him. Indeed, nobody knows how Trudeau conceives the ideal practise of Canadian federalism. Secondly, he'll never be able to get rid of his image of someone who's closed to any demands from Quebec (if not any other provinces) to practise an asymmetrical federalism.

With that being said, Justin Trudeau just recognizes Quebec as a nation, because he wants to follow the Liberal Party of Canada's (LPC) discipline. That's it. That's all. Since he'll be in the Montrealer riding of Papineau in the next federal election, he probably doesn't want the Quebecker wing of the LPC to kick him out. Of course, such a thing is done, because Trudeau wants to look more presentable to most Quebeckers.

Justin Trudeau may want to change his image, but what makes it even less convincing are two things. First of all, he changed his opinion at the light of the pressure he saw from the LPC's Quebecker wing. Secondly, while he showed his sympathy to the Harper motion during a conference in Toronto, he didn't even want to talk about it to any French-speaking Quebecker journalist.

If Justin Trudeau really wanted to confirm his conversion to this new idea about recognizing Quebec as a "nation", he'd talk to a French-speaking Quebecker journalist. Instead, he gives us the feeling that he has something to hide or he's too ashamed to pander to most Quebeckers. All in all, Trudeau's official message changed, but his inner thoughts probably didn't.

***

Those who know me are aware that I've never been warm to the idea of recognizing Quebec as a "nation", even "within an united Canada". However, I'll do my best to tolerate the Harper motion just the same way former American president Dwight Eisenhower (who was quite pro-business) tolerated the New Deal policies.

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.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mon témoignage à la Commission Bouchard-Taylor

Mardi, le 11 décembre 2007. Palais des Congrès, Montréal (Qc). Canada

Je sais très bien que mes propos risquent de déplaire à bien des gens. D’entrée de jeu, je défends la laïcité intégrale parce qu’elle me semble nécessaire à notre société. La liberté religieuse doit être préservée, mais elle ne peut pas être absolue.

Étant une prime en faveur des religions, les accommodements religieux lient l’État aux religions. Logiquement, si l’État délibère au nom de tous les citoyens, aucune foi ne peut être favorisée. Pour moi, l’égalité devant la loi existe réellement lorsqu’il n’y a pas de distinction d’appartenance ethnique, de couleur ou de religion, car les accommodements religieux sont rien de moins qu’une dérogation au principe de la neutralité d’État. C’est pour cela que les symboles religieux doivent sortir des lieux publics.

Laïciser cette société amoindrira nos divisions sociales. Dans le fond, on a beau vouloir améliorer les accommodements religieux, mais ils ne font que créer de l’incompréhension entre citoyens. En se dotant d’une laïcité, cette société ne se posera plus de questions et les gens ne vivront plus dans la crainte de voir un accommodement créer des mésententes. En plus, au lieu de nous diviser, la laïcité favorisera le vivre ensemble.

Évidemment, la laïcité telle que pratiquée en France ne nuit pas à la pratique religieuse, car son but est de garantir aux citoyens qu’aucune législation émanant de l’Assemblée nationale ne sera teintée d’interprétations religieuses. En plus, la loi française stipule clairement que la pratique religieuse se fait dans les lieux prévus à cet effet. Voilà le compromis que tous doivent accepter quelle que soit leur foi.

En conclusion, ce qui est en cause, ce sont nos lois. Je ne suis pas un étudiant en droit ou en science politique, mais je pense qu’un bon point de départ pour le gouvernement québécois serait de modifier l’article 10 de la Charte québécoise en enlevant la religion comme motif pour un accommodement. De plus, je m’attends à ce que le gouvernement fédéral prenne le taureau par les cornes. Pour résumer ma pensée en une phrase : tout ce que je demande aux religions, c’est qu’elles restent confinées dans leur lieu de culte, dans la tête des gens, à la maison ou dans une école privée à vocation religieuse. Merci.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Quebec According to Lucky Luke

The book La belle province is drawn by Hervé Darmenton, aka Achdé, and French imitator Laurent Gerra. It ludicrously talks about Lucky Luke's trip to Contrecoeur, a village of Quebec inhabited by "623 souls". First of all, everything starts with a rodeo contest in the USA.


While being on assignment to track down a criminal named Brad Carpett, Lucky Luke meets named Mario Bombardier who will end up being the winner of the rodeo contest. However, this is the time when Carpett takes the time to elude Lucky Luke and also the time when Jolly Jumper, our hero's horse, falls in love with Bombardier's female horse called Province.

In order to get over Jolly Jumper's sadness, Lucky Luke decides to pay a visit to Mario Bombardier in Quebec. While facing a land where the local customs are different, Lucky Luke has to fight against an American business man who wants to buy the whole village. Above all, Lucky Luke will find out that things are far more complicated than they are in Contrecoeur.

***

Since Morris, the creator of Lucky Luke, died on July 16, 2001, someone really had to resurrect the most famous fictitious cow-boy, but probably not at any price.

Before Lucky Luke begins his visit in Quebec, we readers get to have a quick presentation of what Quebec is almost the same way we were introduced to Astérix's village. Even though Laurent Gerra, the scriptwriter, is funny, he certainly doesn't have Morris's or René Gosciny's (who became the series' script writer after the 10th issue) writing talent. Unfortunately, the presentation of Quebec's history from the time of the French regime to the Union Act (1840) is brimming with pathetic Anglophobic prejudices.

When Gerra describes the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-1838, he sees it as an ethnic clash between English and French Canadians. What a joke! Had he made more research, he'd have found that some Anglos supported the Patriots. Indeed, the most famous Anglo Patriots are Wolfred and Robert Nelson, Marcus Child, Ephraim Knight, John Neilson, W.H. Scott and E.B. O'Callaghan. Therefore, the Rebellion was fundamentally against the British crown and not the Canadian Anglos, mind you!

Moreover, Gerra depicts all Canadian Anglos as people who hate French Canadians. That probably explains why he forgot to mention the fact that Louis-Hyppolite Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin led a coalition government in the 1840s, despite the language barriers. Still, talking about the historical inaccuracies will just take the whole day to show that this book is to be taken with a grain of salt.

Hopefully, La belle province manages really well to imitate the series Astérix in terms of humour. Throughout your reading, you'll find many hilarious references to Quebecker and French pop-culture through, for instance, a singer named Miss Céline, a coffin maker called Mr. Rozon (Juste pour mourir) or even Gilles Vigneault! Needless to remind you that the story takes place in the 19th century.

If we don't take in consideration all the incoherences of the storyline (ex: American criminals knowing how to imitate the Quebecker accent?!?!?), La belle province will certainly not honour the name of Morris and René Gosciny. While being a pure product of entertainment, this book makes us anticipate the next issue of Lucky Luke.

Rating: 2/5

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