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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