Friday, May 30, 2008

When Public Transportation Actually Sucks

Sometimes, when you look at some morons using Montreal's public transportation system, you often wish that you had a car.

Rest assured: although I spent a part of my childhood in the suburb of Laval, I do believe that public transportation has its place in Montreal. Since I don't have a car, I have to commute in order to go to school and my workplace above all. However, some Montrealer commuters' bad habits irk me a lot. Here are two examples taken from my daily life.

The escalator's left side

The first of these bad habits, and none the least, consists in blocking the escalator in the subway by standing on the left. Obviously, we're not talking about one or two people who can be politely asked to step on the right so that you can move. Indeed, in addition to all the people who stand on the escalator's right side, there's a herd of people standing still on the left. Thus, these people contribute to cause a congestion on the escalator.

Here's my word to the army of morons who like to stand still on the escalator's left side: haven't you figured out that an escalator works almost like a highway? The left side is for those who want to get past many people. If you don't want to move your ass, then keep right. Isn't that complicated? Well, common sense doesn't seem to be many people's forte...

Licence to squeeze you

Whether it's in the bus or in the subway trains, you always feel squeezed, especially during the morning (at seven in the morning) and the rush hour. Obviously, don't have the feeling that I'm not willing to share public transportation with Montrealers (also add to this suburbans). To be clear with you, I'm going to share with you my impression about being literally compressed in a bus.

Any Montrealers know what it's like to enter a bus. Trying to enter one is almost as challenging as climbing Mount Everest. Indeed, I don't understand why people (if you don't count those who have a seat) like to stand mostly in a bus's front part. Don't they notice that they make it harder for others to get in (or get off) the bus and even harder for us to move to the back?

Moreover, while thinking that you may get flattened in a manner of speaking (i.e. when moving is almost impossible), I don't understand why can't the Société des Transports de Montréal (STM) put more bus or subway trains at our disposal. Are they facing a shortage of money?

Some of you have probably never experienced this, but when a bus is really full, what often happens? Yes you imagined it: the bus driver often have to keep going even if it means getting past a bus stop that has people waiting. As a result of this, it infuriates many commuters who have to waste another (who knows) six, ten, twenty, thirty or even sixty minutes to wait! As for a subway train, I dare you to finish school during the rush hour and wait until the fourth train arrives in order to go home...

Partial observation

It's true that I always wish I had a car. However, unlike what you think, I'm not glamouring the idea of having one. Secondly, I don't need to be reminded by some self-righteous Montreal-centred prigs (who never spent their life outside the Island) about the environmental virtues of public transportation: the more people use it, the less car you should see on our municipal roads.

However, I sometimes don't have the feeling that I get the services that I'm entitled to deserve given the part of my taxes used to "improve" (as Quebecker and Montrealer politicians put it) Montreal's public transportation system. What do you think about Montreal's public transportation system? Does it often make you wish you had a car? Well, everybody, let's talk!

PS: I still use Montreal's public transportation.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

When Secularism Is Not Secularism

"En un mot, je veux, je le répète, ce que voulaient nos pères, l'Église chez elle et l'État chez lui."
-Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor have foolishly proposed an "open secularism" for Quebec in their report. However, it doesn't take Aristide Briand's brain to understand that if we keep mixing religions with public, legal and political affairs, we'll never be secular.

In their report, they wrote that Quebec (if not Canada) will still be secular if religions and the state are mixed together in order to accommodate religious minorities. First of all, Bouchard and Taylor wrote that the crucifix at our National Assembly should be taken out "in the name of the separation between the state and the church" and that recital of Christian prayers in municipal councils should be forbidden. On the other hand, while justices, policemen and gaolers are not allowed to wear religious symbols, teachers and public servants will have the right to do it. Secondly, add to this the absurd idea that religious minorities should get days off (along with their salary) for their religious celebration.

The problem here is that Bouchard and Taylor are using their report to practise ideological imperialism. If you're against religious accommodations, you probably don't understand something to "cultural dialogue", according to them.

Moreover, with their pathetic use of the term "open secularism", it appears that my secularism is racist, close minded and extremist. As for them, they believe that theirs is so open-minded! In a nutshell, while Bouchard and Taylor stipulated that no Christian prayers must be recited in Quebec's municipal councils, it's funny to see that they propose all kinds of things that link the state to religions.

For instance, why should a female teacher from a public school be allowed to wear a hidjab? Why should Orthodox Jews from Outremont be allowed to have their heruv still hanging over the streets? Why should a Sikh be allowed to wear his turban? Why should the crucifix be taken out while religious minorities are allowed to practise religious exhibitionism? Why should a public servant get the right to wear a Christian necklace? Why the hell should taxpayers' money be used to build a committee that studies all possible ways to accommodate people with special religious views?

I said it many times on this blog (as well as in public) and I'm going to repeat it: the public space must be secular. This means that religions, through rituals and symbols, have no place in public places, that is places used by all citizens regardless of the colour of their skin, their religion or their ethnicity. Moreover, as far as we're concerned, public places are not mainly designated for religious purposes.

Moreover, if you look at Canada's case, the display of religious symbols has sparked enough problem of racism in our society. This shows us that religious accommodations are nothing more than a complete failure.

I'm saying it, because unlike Bouchard and Taylor, I don't believe that religious freedom must be absolute. Of course, if people want to believe between their two ears that a certain religion will guide them correctly, then I've got no problem with that. However, anybody must understand that the only place where you can practise a religion are: 1) at home; 2) in a place of worship (church, synagogue, mosque, temple); 3) in a private religious school; or 4) in a cemetery.

With this said, even if your right to practise religion is restricted to some places, you don't lose your freedom of conscience. Moreover, the RCMP is not going to knock at your door just because you practise your religion in your apartment! I don't want to see any cunts comparing France, the cradle of real secularism, to China, Vietnam or the Spain from the Reconquista. No, Mr. Bouchard and Taylor, I'm not being a racist by favouring French-style secularism. When school is over (or your day at your workplace), you may want to go to your place of worship (or your house) to practise your religion with the accoutrement that you want.

And to paraphrase Quebecker humorist Nabila Ben Youssef, I agree that we should accommodate people with a handicap, but people who suffer from an intellectual deficiency because of their religion can find help.

Again, with a Jesus freak acting as our Prime Minister in Ottawa and a man without balls trying to be Quebec's Premier, I don't think that Canada will become really secular tomorrow.

PS: This is one of the rare moments when I write a post by not being serious.

Version intégrale du rapport Bouchard-Taylor - Get more Legal Forms

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quebecker Separatists Distorting History

Many Quebecker separatists drag a laughable bias in their interpretation of the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-38.

Obviously, on May 19, it's hard to feel enthusiast during the Journée des Patriotes. As an event that is supposed to bring us back into our past, this celebration is anything but politically inclusive. Given that the march (that takes place during the celebration) is organized by the Jeunes Patriotes du Québec, we have the feeling that many Quebecker separatists only see that celebration as their day.

Obviously, many Quebecker separatists may be right when they mock Stephen Harper's belief that the foundation of Quebec City (1608) corresponds to Canada's (as we know it) act of birth. However, many Quebecker separatists should stop thinking that they're entitled to re-write the history of the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-38.

Strange though it might look, this makes us think about this motto: "Do what I say (not to re-write History), but don't do what I do (re-writing History)."

After all, separatists are not done with using the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-1838 at their own partisan advantage. Moreover, add to that their propensity to spread historical oddities (if not lies) about the previously mentioned event.

Obviously, the first lie concerns Louis-Joseph Papineau. Through the Louis-Joseph Papineau Award (only given to separatist figures), many separatists are trying to make us swallow the idea that Papineau led the fight against the British at Saint-Denis, Saint-Charles and Saint-Eustache. Of course, this is not true, because at the time of the fight, Papineau was exiled in the USA. Therefore, the person who actually led the Canadian Patriots against the British was an Anglophone named Wolfred Nelson (photo), since he was more radical than Papineau.


Still, I don't know if it's only a prejudice of mine, but it looks like many French Quebeckers would feel uncomfortable by learning that it was an Anglophone (not a Francophone) who put his pants against the British during the Rebellion. This is why I'm wondering why doesn't Nelson has a statue made after him located in front of Quebec's National Assembly. As far as we're concerned, it's about time that French Quebeckers (starting with some separatists) give the appropriate recognition that Anglophones deserve in the teaching of our History, because not all Anglophones are "villain".


Secondly, another absurdity rooted into some separatists' consciousness is their belief that the Patriotes embody the defence of the French language. Unlike many Quebecker separatists, most Patriotes were not linguistic paranoids. In fact, when Nelson (who led the fights against the British, mind you) put in place an ad interim government (during the Patriotes' short-lived victory against the British), only French AND English were recognized as Lower Canada's (today Quebec) official languages. Of course, unlike most separatists (who are culturally a bunch of spineless weaklings), most Patriotes actually had confidence that immigrants (who, at the time, were mostly Europeans) could blend (this also means getting assimilated slowly but surely) either into the French or English Canadian culture. In a nutshell, the Patriotes were advocates of a bicultural melting-pot.

Would people just stop thinking that the Rebellion is a clash between all Francophones versus all Anglophones? At the first look, the Rebellion is a clash between Canadian nationalists (Francophones and Anglophones alike) against Great Britain (and by extension those, in Canada, who supported it).

All in all, yesterday, I didn't even celebrate the Journée des Patriotes. Not that, as a History student, I'm ashamed of what the Patriotes, Francophones and some Anglophones alike, did try to get the British out. On the contrary, I don't see myself taking part to a celebration built on historical lies and meant to exclude Quebeckers who are not separatists. Of course, I could've thought about other lies that many separatists spread about the Patriotes (if not our History, in general), but since I'm not in the mood to open a textbook, I'm going to limit myself to what I wrote.

Friday, May 16, 2008

An Insult to Quebeckers

The Quebec's Commission des droits de la personne (CDP) has always advocated the inclusion of religion, as a motive, to ask for a reasonable accommodation. Yet, it allows itself to talk back to Christians.

Yesterday, the CDP released a press communique. In the latter, the CDP expressed its opposition to the recital of Christian prayers at the beginning of assemblies in Quebec's city halls. Such a judgement was actually released in the light of some people's complaint about Jean Tremblay, the mayor of Saguenay, who has always recited prayers before beginning a municipal assembly.

With that said, the CDP affirms that the recital of prayers "contravenes to the obligation of neutrality [from the state]". However, as any competent lawyer would tell you, such a pathetic (and discriminatory) argument stands on nothing, for the principle of separation between the state and the church is unfortunately nowhere to be found in Canadian laws.

Strange as it looks, the CDP has always defended the obligation from the state to religiously accommodate anybody. This is why its latest press communique is totally surprising and contradictory. After all, hasn't the CDP always upheld that refusing to accommodate someone with special religious views is a lack of open-mindedness?

As if it wasn't odd enough, Gaétan Cousineau, the CDP's president, was quoted in the press communique mindlessly uttering that "while members of a municipal council are representatives of the state", they're not supposed to "favour a religion [...] more than any others" for equality's sake. Now, give us a break!

If public institutions shouldn't "favour any religion [...] more than any other", why did that commission shut its hole when some pregnant Muslim women refused to be taken in charge by male doctors in our hospitals? Why wasn't that same commission opposed to some Muslim students' desire to use a free classroom at the École des technologies supérieures (ETS) for their daily prayers? By the way, don't even bother to ask what the CDP thinks about the heruv hanging over the streets of the Outremont area in Montreal...

All in all, the CDP repeatedly says that no religion should be favoured more than others. However, we can't believe that their latest press communique indicates an eventual change of attitudes towards the idea of religious accommodations. In fact, this press communique shows us that the CDP is nothing more than a hypocrite state organ that favours religious minorities more than Christians, who form the majority in Quebec.

Is the CDP's refusal to stand up against claims for accommodations coming from religious minorities rooted in the fear to look racist? In this case, how "racist" were the French, the Turks and the Mexicans when they respectively equipped their country with a policy of secularism (which are relatively similar) in 1905, 1921 and 1917?

If the CDP pretends that it defends equality, then everybody, including Christians, should ideally be accommodated. On the other hand, if the CDP believes in the "neutrality [of the state]" in religious affairs, then no religious community should receive any special treatment.

It's that simple.

By the way, I'll be so happy if Canada becomes a secular republic like France, just to let you know my political opinions.


If you want to read the press communique of Quebec's so-called Commission of Human Rights, well, here it is. Unfortunately, I could only find it in French.

Communiqué de presse de la Commission des droits de la personne du Québec - Get more documents

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