December 20th, 2013
06:02 PM ET

Canada in 2014: Separatist issue looms

By Jonathan Kay, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jonathan Kay is Comment Editor of the Toronto-based National Post newspaper. You can follow him @jonkay. The views expressed are his own. This is the fifth in the '14 in 2014' series, looking at what the year ahead holds for key countries.

The biggest challenge facing Canada in 2014? It’s the same one that has threatened Canadian unity since the country’s genesis: the status of the majority-French province of Quebec within Canada’s majority-Anglo confederation. But due to a series of political gambits recently launched by Quebec separatists, this age-old issue now comes with a new and disturbing post-9/11 twist.

American visitors to Montreal and Quebec City often come back describing the province as “European” in character. The term bespeaks praise for these cities’ cobblestoned historic areas, multilingual character, fine restaurants, and continental sophistication.

But, less charmingly, Quebec politicians also are more “European” than the rest of North America in their suspicious attitude toward immigrants. And this fact is creating a growing cultural estrangement between Quebec and the rest of Canada, further exacerbating the country’s longstanding rift over language.

While the United States embraces a “melting pot” approach to immigration, and Canada has embedded the principle of “multiculturalism” in its constitution, many Québécois are deeply protective of the cultural and linguistic character of their province, a largely Catholic (or lapsed Catholic) island of French in a North American Anglo Protestant sea. As in France, which banned the niqab and other face-covering garments in 2011, intellectuals and politicians in Quebec fret openly about newcomers from developing countries, Muslims especially – sometimes in a manner that the rest of Canada finds shocking and even racist.

Of course, all societies have their bigots. But the situation in Quebec has become especially problematic because of the manner by which Quebec’s separatist government is eagerly exploiting anti-immigrant sentiment to further a parochial political agenda.

The dominant party in the provincial legislature is the Parti Québécois (PQ), a 45-year-old party founded with the goal of breaking up Canada and creating a sovereign Quebec state. But polls consistently show that only a minority of Quebecers (about 30 percent to 40 percent, depending on how the question is asked) embrace the separatist cause. PQ politicians thus do their best to stir up grievances against Ottawa, in the hope that more public sentiment can be brought around to separation, and then ratified in the form of a third sovereignty referendum. (The first two, in 1980 and 1995, resulted in defeats for the separatists, which is why Quebec remains part of Canada.)

But that strategy has failed: Canada’s federal government, under both incumbent Conservative Stephen Harper and his Liberal predecessor Paul Martin, have conciliated Quebec, giving no pretext for separatist forces to rally. And so the increasingly desperate PQ has instead turned its demagogic campaign inward, against Quebec residents who dress in an “overtly religious” manner.

Under the PQ’s newly proposed “Charter Affirming the Values of Secularism” (widely known as the Secularism Charter), the provincial government would ban the display of any “overt” religious headgear by public employees – which would most notably include Mulsim hijabs, Sikh turbans and Jewish yarmulkes. (As a nod toward nominal religious neutrality, the Bill also would ban large crucifixes displayed on chains. But, as many critics have noted, the PQ failed to take down a large Christian cross adorning the provincial legislature, thereby making nonsense of their evenhanded conceit.) If the bill becomes law in 2014, a huge swathe of workers, including bureaucrats, day-care providers, teachers and medical professionals, will have to decide between publicly expressing their faith and keeping their jobs.

According to the Quebec government, such legislation would help protect Quebec society from religious extremism. But outside of a few scattered anecdotes (one trumped up controversy, for instance, revolved around the desire of a handful of Sikh children to play soccer while wearing their turbans), the urban regions where immigrants live generally are marked by peaceful co-existence. Indeed, it is only since Quebec introduced its Secular Charter in 2013 that racial and religious tensions have worsened.

The Secularism Charter has alienated the province’s immigrants and religious minorities, many of whom now wonder whether they have a future in Quebec. But for ardent separatists, this isn’t seen as a bad thing: Most newcomers to Canada care little for Quebec’s separatist grievances, and can be expected to vote no in any future referendum. Quebec Premier Pauline Marois’ PQ would likely be happy to see these federalists depart for other jurisdictions – along with the province’s increasingly beleaguered and disenfranchised Anglo minority – thereby leaving Quebec with a more “purified,” French-speaking, pro-sovereigntist Québécois electorate.

It is uncertain whether this gambit will work. Marois commands only a minority government in the provincial legislature, and the future of the Secularism Charter isn’t certain. Polls show support for the Charter, in the abstract, among many Francophones, especially in rural regions. But various municipalities, schools and hospitals already have declared that they will not enforce the Charter, even if it becomes law – thus raising the politically unappetizing possibility of the province having to send its agents into doctors’ offices and classrooms to confront hijab- or yarmulke-wearing public servants.

But one thing is certain: The entire episode has not only upended the social peace in Quebec, it has disgusted many Canadians outside Quebec. For decades, Quebec separatists have sought to convince the world that their worldview and Canada’s is fundamentally incompatible. They may finally have succeeded, albeit in the ugliest manner possible.

Topics: Canada

soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    If the people of Quebec with to secede from the rest of Canada, the should have that right. I myself prefer the French language to English. People sound far more polite when they speak French. English is not a pretty language to begin with and some foul mouthed idiots make it an ugly by using unnecessary profanity which I refer to as Tea Party lingo.

    December 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Speaking of English, I wish to apologize for the misprint above. I meant to say "wish to secede", not "with to secede".

      December 20, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Reply
      • brodie123

        That's fine for you to say as you probably don't live through the nightmare each and every day, watching our property values plummet and having laws enacted against those who speak English and those that are not of the Catholic persuasion. Are you going to compensate us for the loss of our homes and businesses should these idiots win a referendum to leave Canada? I would love for just one of you to offer to buy my home for what it is worth outside this dreadful province!

        December 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • j. von hettlingen

        More than 80% of Quebec Canadians are French-speakers but the majority of the population are thought to want to see the issue of separation settled.

        December 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • j. von hettlingen

        The stronger economy Canada develops, in two or three decades the secession ambition might evaporate, as the Quebecers know they need the rest of the country to survive.

        December 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
      • harmanDS

        "idiots make it an ugly by"
        would you like to correct this to while you are at it

        December 24, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Noah

      You must be talking about Occupy Wall Street language, not the Tea Party. I have been to a Tea Party rally and heard absolutely no profanity. They are just people who are fed up with all of the power being sucked into Washington and the government spending more money than it takes in.

      December 21, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Reply
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Wrong, Noah. Most Tea Partiers are uneducated and support all these useless and unnecessary wars that this government drags us into. Many of these same people do blog in here with their strong support for the Pentagon and quite often use foul language in doing so. On the other hand, we sorely need another anti-war movement in this country but due to the ignorance of the general public, that will not happen anytime soon. Most Tea Partiers are pro-war!

        December 22, 2013 at 11:46 am |
      • bobpitt

        You must be blind a deaf, just looking at the TV is obvious to see the depictions of your president in Zulu outfit, or as a white face buffoon, and goes from there. If you think that is not offensive then you need a more cultured indoctrination..

        December 25, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • glauber

      No one is any more or less polite just because they're speaking a given language.

      December 24, 2013 at 2:16 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Yes harmanDS, I would like to. I meant to say that the English language by itself is not an ugly one, although far less pretty than French. Those idiots using the filthy Tea Party lingo make it that way. In America, people are telling their kids that it's alright to talk that way as most uncouth Tea Partiers do. I already protested here against people using this choice of words in order to express their opinions. It is not called for!

      December 24, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Reply
    • george

      Mr. McCarthy, you spout drivel. Quebec has no more right to secede from the rest of Canada than Oklahoma has the rite to secede from the rest of the US. That was tried once, and caused a very significant was. As for your statement that after all, you prefer speaking French, Canada is officially a bilingual country. Living anywhere in Canada, you have the rite to speak French.
      Little known by most of the public, Quebec officially consists of that area. drained by the St. Lawrence River, a small part of what is presently considered Quebec.

      December 29, 2013 at 9:59 am | Reply
      • george fallon

        Mr. McCarthy is unworthy of your discourse. His broad brush comments about tea party intelligence are the stuff of inarticulate teenagers in search of a better way to say things. When someone shows this proclivity to generalization they lend little to intelligent conversation.

        January 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
    • Aqui ( Verdun Aquaduct )

      Mr. McCarthy, Have you never heard , Cholis....Tabernac.....Ciboir....Hostie....and many more words of profanity taken
      in the Lords name as used in the daily conversations of the majority of Quebecers ? How quickly some seem to forget.
      These separatists are an ugly bunch of dissilusioned unworthy Canadians who will one day ruin the lives of the coming generations of young Quebec Canadians. I left this bigoted province many years ago and have not looked back since.
      It is called having a vote with no potential useful meaning !

      January 1, 2014 at 7:15 am | Reply
    • Jake

      You sound very prissy, which is typical of Quebec as most there are terribly prissy. It's a prissy province.

      January 1, 2014 at 9:47 am | Reply
    • DaveW

      You should mind your own business. It's not about language aesthetics, it's about respecting one's neighbors and peers, even if they have a different mother tongue or a different faith than you.
      Anglophones in Quebec have been suffering basic rights abuses for decades while the rest of Canada turns a blind eye in order to maintain a unified Canada. The leaders of Quebec are intent on self-destruction. I think the rest of Canada is getting fed up. I moved my family from the Sherbrooke area 30 years ago. After managing to get a green card, we moved to the United States.

      January 1, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Reply
    • Mao Tse Tung

      I prefer the smell of my armpit than my neighbours'.

      January 2, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Reply
      • Mao Tse Tung

        Correcting a grammatical erro: "I prefer ... more than..." Sorry my mother tongue is Maoist

        January 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
      • youdidwhat?

        I like it too

        January 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
    • Merwin

      It would be a different story if the rest of Canada had been able to vote !
      The rest of Canada should be allowed to vote if we want to keep Quebec as part of Canada!
      Quebec should succeed on it's own as a country!
      But with out any money from Canada & taking it's share of the national debt !

      January 5, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  2. rightospeak

    If Quebec were on a border with Russia or China we would support their separation from the rest of Canada. If Quebec wants to destroy their traditions and their community, just follow the current Canadian and EU policies.
    It seems that only Israel has the right idea how to preserve culture, language which is opposite to the EU and Canadian policies. Israel has no wish to self destruct and they do not encourage Muslim immigration-it is that simple !

    December 21, 2013 at 10:23 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      What does China, Israel, and Russia have to do with this? Did we even read the same article?

      December 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • Grumpy Old Man

      I wish we had a strong anti-immigration, anti-multicultural movement in the States. Immigration is destroying our traditions and impoverishing the native working class.

      December 21, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Reply
      • Ken

        Unless you are Native American you come from immigrants. Maybe you should keep your racists comments to yourself

        December 22, 2013 at 9:02 am |
      • minnie mouse

        .... "native americans" also were originally immigrants. They didn't spring magically from our western soil like some kind of mold spore. They traveled here from elsewhere.

        December 25, 2013 at 3:15 am |
      • CMH

        Nativist, no-nothing, idiots like yourself have been peddling this same B.S. from as far back as the 1840's, and yet the country thrives and persists despite the influx of the non-WASP hordes sullying your sacred culture (which, my guess, consists of Wal-mart, creationism, country music, and inbreeding).

        Otherwise, I've always wondered what happens to the Maritimes if Quebec goes. They already seem isolated from the rest of Canada, as is, with Quebec part of the country. I could see a bit of a geopolitical daisy chain occurring.

        January 2, 2014 at 4:01 am |
      • CMH

        Meant to say "know-nothing." Notwithstanding, diatribe still holds.

        January 2, 2014 at 4:04 am |
      • Mao Tse Tung

        Unfortunately, the "peaux rouges" are so civilized that the did not set up an Immigration Ministry.

        January 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
    • minnie mouse

      Maybe that is because the Jewish people learned the hard way that nobody else has any interest in preserving one's culture. Quite the opposite.

      December 25, 2013 at 3:05 am | Reply
    • DaveW

      Lol. Sheesh; is it a full moon tonight? China, Russia – is that all you got? What about Hitler? No Kim Jong il? Fidel Castro? Idi Amin Dada or Pol Pot?
      Please, if you're trying to do crazy, don't hold back. Perhaps you could advocate for a CIA intervention in order to support Quebec freedom fighters. Maybe Washington would be willing to send a few aircraft carriers up the St. Lawrence, prepared to evacuate any American tourists whose freedom might be violated by the ruthless Harper dictatorship.
      Come to think of it, this might not be so crazy. Canada is undermining US policy with their socialized medicine and inexpensive drugs. Perhaps just a limited drone attack on Canadian hospitals and pharmacies...

      January 1, 2014 at 5:34 pm | Reply
    • Paskuniak

      It's actually quite interesting that you bring Israel as a comparison. Although Israel is a democracy, it considers itself a "Jewish" state, as opposed to a "secular" state like Quebec claims to be. Yet STILL, Israel does not (and would never) ban hijabs or sikh turbans in the public sector! And imagine if they did, how all those anti-zionists would point to it as evidence of israel's racism. So PQ, please spare us the bs. You are racists, and your secularism charter is racist, and you know it.

      January 16, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Reply
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    December 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Reply
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    December 21, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  5. JAL

    Great article.

    December 21, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  6. joseelr

    If you want credible journalism, go to The Globe & Mail.... Mr. Kay is wrong to brand all Quebekers as bigots and please note this is a MINORITY government and the purpose of this policy was to take away discussion of the economy. Mr. Kay is wrong to focus on this ... Mr. Kay's purpose is to create division between Quebec and the ROC. Shame on him.

    Canada’s National Post, Journalism, Quebec And Division
    Another day another misleading headline at Canada’s National Post newspaper.

    The headline “Pauline Marois’ assaults on democratic values” should have read “Why is nobody picking on Quebec like they did Alberta?”

    Or perhaps more aptly, “Jonathan Kay’s assaults on impartial journalism”

    Where to begin…

    In the actual article, Kay rightly highlights many of the absurd comments, xenophobic policy ideas and religious bigotry making its way out of PQ headquarters during this election cycle. Canadians have every right to be outraged by such extremist views, just as they were by the Todd Akin’s of Tea Party North – Alberta’s Wildrose Party.

    But, what is the actual source of Mr. Kay’s outrage?

    “Given the close scrutiny that surrounded the recent Alberta election, it is somewhat surprising that more attention is not being paid to the genuinely alarming things coming out of the mouth of Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois.

    During the Alberta campaign, every gaffe committed by a member of the right-wing Wildrose Party became a national news item. The Toronto media, in particular, lapped it up — because it played to our outdated stereotype of Alberta as a land of rural hicks.

    So why has there been comparatively little uproar over Ms. Marois?”

    Yes, you read that correctly.

    A high profile columnist at one of Canada’s two national newspapers, this one being the flagship outlet for an entire news organization, has just complained that not enough Canadians are up in arms, and those media elites in Toronto aren’t piling on. He is saying that Quebec is being treated differently than Alberta somehow. (In a schoolyard this would be expressed as “Canada likes Quebec more than Alberta! Na Na Na Na Na Na…”)

    Sadly, this is what has become of the National Post.

    I am trying to refrain from piling on Mr. Kay and his employers after my own series of rather scathing articles about this organization. (Read them here and here)

    So, let me start by pointing out the obvious.

    The Alberta provincial election in question was held in April. In case Mr. Kay has not noticed, it is a beautiful summer in North America. Perhaps those Toronto media elites he opines about are up in Muskoka, marveling at Tony Clement’s wonderful new sidewalks and gazebos.

    But that’s assuming he is correct about the lack of coverage. And he most definitely is not correct.

    A very quick look at the other national newspaper, The Globe And Mail, shows no fewer than 28 articles covering the Quebec election in the past week.

    The Toronto Star (used here because he mentions Toronto) shows no fewer than 20 similar stories in the past week.

    That’s a total of 48 stories, minimum, in just TWO newspapers, in ONE WEEK!

    Forty-eight stories in two newspapers about a provincial election in the middle of the summer. The majority of those stories highly critical of the exact same issues Mr. Kay mentions.

    So why is Jonathan Kay misleading his readers? Why would Kay and the National Post be stirring this pot right now, when clearly the facts do not support their claim?

    Could it be careful pandering to their base of conservatives? That base being centered squarely in Alberta? Yes.

    Could it be Mr. Kay trying to regain his conservative “credibility” after some of his more recent posts as I noted above? Perhaps.

    Coud it be a petty shot by Mr. Kay at his fellow media elite in Toronto? Of course.

    Is there an editorial agenda at work? Absolutely.

    Anything else? I sure hope not… But there may be one more thing at play.

    If you read my article “Quebec, Stephen Harper And The Decentralization Of Canada” then you already know that the current Prime Minster, Stephen Harper is a well known proponent of a weaker federal government. As I outlined, a PQ win and inevitable future sovereignty debate would help him realize these goals, likely with the full support of the rest of the provinces.

    We also know that the National Post is pro-Conservative Party, pro-Harper, as Kay himself has admitted. They have consistently helped stoke the fire of national division with stories just like this that pit region against region and often, Canadian against Canadian. And that is exactly what Kay is doing now. All to bolster the right wing agenda.

    And there’s the connection.

    By goading the rest of Canada’s news organizations to pile on in their criticism of the PQ, you may just help the PQ within Quebec. Why?

    Because by giving the impression that the rest of Canada is critical of Quebec, by suggesting that the rest of Canada is telling Quebecers for whom they should not vote, it has been the traditional response of Quebec’s voters to flock to a nationalist party.

    And if the PQ wins, so does Mr. Harper, his dreams of decentralization and in turn, currently wealthy provinces like Alberta.

    There are, unfortunately, many Canadians who read the National Post and take what is written there as news and as fact. Canadians who look to this organization for insight, assessment and yes, honest opinion.

    And because that is sorely lacking within that organization now, let’s hope very few of them live in Quebec.

    December 22, 2013 at 7:13 am | Reply
  7. joseelr

    Note to the EDITORS and Mr. Zakaria:

    Canada has so much to offer the world in 2014 and this is what you focus on????

    December 22, 2013 at 7:15 am | Reply
    • RMMTL

      Mr. Kay does not brand all Quebecers as bigots. It is the so-called Quebec secularism charter (Bill 60) itself that is dividing Quebecers, contrary to Premier Pauline Marois' contention that it would unite Quebecers.

      Opposing the PQ's separatist and overtly nativist political agenda is not anti-French, nor is it anti-Quebec. Thankfully, commentators throughout Canada – English and French alike – are starting to call a spade a spade and refusing to be intimidated by arguments that lack rigour and merit.

      Yes, Canada has a lot more to offer, but in light of our mourning over the loss of Nelson Mandela, Mr. Kay made a wise choice in keying on the PQ's charter as a potentially divisive game-changer for the U.S.A.'s northern partner in 2014.

      December 24, 2013 at 3:02 am | Reply
      • Elmo

        Mr. Key is simply clueless and his article proves it beyond a doubt. A typical Torontonian writing about Quebec without living in the province or having any Quebec friends. Perhaps he should write about the crackhead running his city.

        December 25, 2013 at 2:03 am |
  8. Dr Tod Policandriotes

    According to CNN, the US is the only country anyone can come to and apply for a full citizenship without having a lot of money. This one thing makes the US the MOST tolerant country in terms of immigration. It is quite sad that other supposedly older and wiser countries do not do this kind gesture.

    December 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
    • Dr Tod Policandriotes

      This is also one reason why we are the most powerful country in the world. Unfortunately, we get the riff-raff too and people that will create more harm than good. Harm can be spread in many ways, the one which bothers me the most is they will infect some of our young and not so wise or educated into radical movements. Now, there are bad Americans, but all countries have some bad apples and some countries send their bad apples here on purpose. Didn't the British have a penal colony, I think it was called Australia. Australia has sure done well for starting as a penal colony. I like the Australians.

      December 22, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Reply
      • minnie mouse

        Maybe we get "riff-raff" because immigration policies aren't careful or cautious enough.

        December 25, 2013 at 3:00 am |
      • glennrobert

        How do you define riff-raff. Do you mean poor there fore worthless. my, my! I have always wanted to be an aristocrat.

        December 27, 2013 at 2:45 am |
    • Dr Tod Policandriotes

      Sorry, Russia has a pretty good policy, if you want to live in Russia that is, sort of a last resort to me.

      December 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Are you aware Dr Tod, that back in 1919, thousands of Russian immigrants were deported back to Russia although none of these people had anything at all to do with either Revolution in 1917 from Ellis Island? This shows that not quite everyone is so welcomed here. That was part of the big, but mythological Red Scare which was later used by the right-wing politicians in order to gain votes and that goes on to this very day!

      December 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Reply
      • minnie mouse

        Was that the same Red Scare "scam" that placed nuclear weapons in Cuba, swimming distance from American shores?

        December 25, 2013 at 3:19 am |
    • Elmo

      You are dreaming in technicolor. The USA is the MOST racist country on earth. Go to any southern state and get informed.

      December 25, 2013 at 2:02 am | Reply
      • minnie mouse

        You are right. I'm tired of black Americans always criticizing us white Americans.

        December 25, 2013 at 2:48 am |
    • minnie mouse

      It is possible to become more tolerant and less wise.

      December 25, 2013 at 2:51 am | Reply
  9. Paul in Montreal

    Why is it that Americans always make every single story all about them?? This isn't about you, this is not about China, or Israel or Russia either, it's about CANADA and Quebec. I know many of you don't like to lose the limelight, but try to get over it. If Quebec separates from Canada, we can re-enact the war of 1812, and this time we will let the US win and take Quebec off our hands. We'll let you deal with the St Jean Baptist Society, The OQLF (Language Police), the rampant corruption, the crumbling infrastructure, the oppressive and divisive secularism that doesn't even think English should be tolerated, and the list goes on.
    It's very easy to sit south of the border and pass irrelevant comments and point uninformed fingers, and to say things like Quebec French is a prettier language than English (If you understood French, and listened to a random conversation here in Quebec, you'd soon discover just how vulgar the language can be). I've lived here most of my 45 years, and as an Anglo Quebecer that is bilingual, I get constantly harassed for being an Anglo with a french name, as though I have committed some form of sacrilege. The PQ propaganda, especially with Charter of Bigotry, has already sparked numerous acts of violence against Muslim women in public and even against people speaking English casually in the street. It's deplorable, disgusting, and embarrassing.
    Of course people would say... so why don't you leave then if it's so bad? I'll tell you why. Because I love Canada, and also love the physical Province of Quebec, and I will not let them win with me and drive me out of my home like they have with so many others, just so they can play king of the castle in a kindergarten sandbox. Things are not cut-and-dry here, and there are no simple answers. Quebec sovereignty has already been proven to be an economic nightmare (even worse than it is now), and the fact that the bulk of the province is home to and controlled by Inuit and other Aboriginal groups, who want to remain in Canada, the pie would get a hell of a lot smaller for the PQ.
    Just my 2 cents.

    December 22, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Reply
    • minnie mouse

      You need anger management classes.

      December 25, 2013 at 2:56 am | Reply
    • Pierre Raton

      You sound like a rhodesian. Honnestly you're pathetic I don't know where you get you're "facts". AH LET ME GUESS! Globe and Mail? Maclean's? I live in the same city as you by the way.

      My best friend is muslim and I'm gonna be his best man in january. I speak 3 languages and I'm in favor of that "Charter" (not totally in accord but that's an other debate).

      No one will stop wearing their religious signs in public!? It's just as work in government jobs, just like the police and the firefighter already do.

      Stop hating my friend.

      December 25, 2013 at 10:48 am | Reply
      • minnie mouse

        It is not the same thing at all. Law enforcement wear specific attire so the public can visually identify them. (aside from the predictable safety reasons). This is different from members of the public deciding to voluntarily wear various forms of religious attire in public. They are making a religious statement, for better – for worse – for neutral.

        December 25, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • youdidwhat?

      ummm..nope. we don't really want Quebec, thanks anyway.

      January 3, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  10. ✠RZ✠

    You wanna talk about Kabeckers and Canada eh?!? Well how about reflecting on them FLQs and the October Crisis back in 1970 ?!? Outright brutal terrorist kidnapping and execution invoking the War Measures Act in Canada temporarily suppressing the freedoms, liberties, and rights of all Canadians? Shame on Quebec ! Shame on Jean Cretien! Canada bends over backwards to appease those overbearing, discriminating, and spiteful ingrates with nothing but respect, friendship, and billions of dollars! And what comes back in return ? Nothing but a big "tabernac mon ami!!"

    December 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Reply
    • Donut

      LOL that wasn't Jean Cretien who invoked the war measures act, that was Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and he had every right giving the situation of ambassador's and MPP (Members of Provincial Parliament) kidnapped and murdered. Please read your history, I don't have to I lived through it.

      December 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
      • ✠RZ✠

        My most humble apologies. Perhaps trying to be brief I have inadvertently misled some. Mssr. Cretien was of course not the PM at the time, nor did I say or intend to imply that he was. But I believe he was originally supportive of the FLQ, which did not end up reflecting very well upon him in the end. Pretty sure there was a bit nervous drinking, smoking, and a few F words involved. And yes, PET was without question the PM at the time. And in addressing the nation he clearly and emotionally expressed his personal reluctance, if not outright repugnance in having to invoke the War Measures Act given his strong respect to their cherished freedoms, liberties, and rights. Maybe something that Washington and other regimes should seriously consider. Eh mon ami? Udderwize, you mide end up wit some civil unrest on your 'ands, tabernac!

        December 24, 2013 at 8:00 am |
      • ✠RZ✠

        Donut, my images and memory of both men are still clear but evidently I am starting to lose it somewhat as I have incorrectly cited by name Jean Cretien for Rene Levesque. I am getting too old.

        December 29, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Elmo

      Your clear lack of knowledge and spewing of uniformed "facts" just makes you lose credibility. Clueless.

      December 25, 2013 at 2:01 am | Reply
      • ✠RZ✠

        Every Canadian especially should watch The October Crisis of 1970 by Robin Spry – NFB of CDA . It can be found on google.

        December 26, 2013 at 1:47 am |
  11. Repeal101

    Canada's great shame is that is has allowed the daily oppression of its non-Catholic, non-white, non-French minorities for 40-plus years now, at a cost that is both immoral and financially suicidal.

    December 22, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Reply
    • Elmo

      Surely you are referring to how English Canada is treating its aboriginal peoples.

      December 25, 2013 at 2:00 am | Reply
    • minnie mouse

      Canada has committed financial suicide?

      December 25, 2013 at 2:40 am | Reply
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    I agree with those who favor the preservation of European culture,
    I always enjoy Quebec. Montreal is a joy.
    "Over There," Paris is one of the last civilized large cities, although it's endangered.
    The advocacy of multiculturism is part of the destruction of the USA.

    December 23, 2013 at 8:37 am | Reply
  13. Denny

    Lets keep in mind that the new rules regarding attire apply to government and public sector employees. Surely, as they deliver the service, the government also has the right to decide from an image standpoint, what is appropriate. We are talking about people on the public payroll, who have the freedom to accept or reject that employment.

    I feel as a taxpayer and citizen, that when I go to a hospital or to the police station, that the person I deal with won't be promoting their particular religion as their first point of visual contact.

    December 23, 2013 at 9:44 am | Reply
    • Donut

      Really seriously this is what you get when you see a turban or a hijab or a yamulke? That this person's religion comes first? The outer appearance of anyone does not affect me what so ever. It is the person under that garb I'm interested in. do you have the same reaction when a judge wears his robes, or a priest wearing a collar or a police officer has a bullet proof vest and gun? they are all the same in my books. The outer garb of someone should not affect YOUR perception.

      December 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Reply
      • minnie mouse

        People will judge from outward appearances. If that offends your sensibilities, I'm sorry but its a recognized fact. Our brain doesn't always have time to read a resume' before it makes a decision. Someone who lives within a society but dresses in a different but recognized religious fashion is making a statement (whether they acknowledge this or not). Judges and law enforcement are required to wear a robe while on duty, precisely because it signals a message. .

        December 25, 2013 at 2:38 am |
      • Karin (@karinkitteh)

        If it doesn't make a difference, why does it need to be worn?

        A yarnmulke, an islamic scarf, or a big fat cross on a necklace isn't meant for the wearer's comfort. It's worn to be a public announcement. At best, it is an instrument of proselytism. At worst, it is a political signal of how many people islam can mobilize, even in non muslim countries. Even if the people wearing the religious signs don't mean this exact meaning by it, there are those who are happy to use their semblance of mobilization to further their agendas.

        The real shame of the Charter is that it is a hypocritical means to the heart of what really offends Quebecers. Quebecers do no object to the yarmulke, and they don't really care about turbans. What offends Quebecers is the visible sign of the inequality of women for religious reasons.

        Quebecers are not convinced that wearing the islamic scarf is really left to the woman who wears it. Neither are they convinced that it is only a custom. To be fair, the arguments of those who wear the scarf oscillate between "it's not a religious obligation, it's a custom that we feel more comfortable with" and "It's a sign of religious piety." So it's not strange that Quebecers have the feeling that the fastest growing minority in Québec is maybe not entirely candid about why women choose to wear the islamic scarf in a province with a history of religious abuse towards women.

        Frankly said, Quebec women had to fight a whole lot harder than most women in Canada for their right to decide for themselves of such trivialities like having or not their 13th child, and its biggest opponent was always religion.

        For many women and men in Quebec, women wearing the islamic scarf is as offensive as it would be to an islamic woman to see bikini clad women in a mosque.

        December 30, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • minnie mouse

      Don't many occupations require some level of "dress code"? What is new about that.

      December 25, 2013 at 2:45 am | Reply
  14. Nick

    The fact that Quebec has the same amount of economic power as Rhode Island and would rely on the Federal government for defense makes the idea of a "free" Quebec pretty implausible.

    December 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Reply
    • Elmo

      Get informed. Quebec has 30% of Canada's economy.

      December 25, 2013 at 1:59 am | Reply
      • RMMTL

        Actually, it had 19.7% of Canada's GDP as of 2012 (23.6% of the population as of 2011 census).

        December 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  15. HamiltonHabber

    Let's be honest here, The Charter Affirming the Values of Secularism will be shot down in the Supreme Court of Canada and, IF Quebec were ever vote to secede from Canada, they will first lose 2/3 of their land to the native population which will stay with Canada, and then they will lose all of their money as the entire Anglo population of Montreal and area will leave the province in a mass exodus.
    Look at it like this, after the Referendum in 1980, many in the business community (which does not like uncertainty) left the Province, and now you have the Bank of Montreal with their head office in Toronto.

    December 23, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Reply
    • Elmo

      You're simply dreaming and spewing out crapola if you think the aboriginals would get any land back. They are also treated horribly in English Canada so spare everyone the bull that you're now siding with them, as its incredibly hypocritical.

      December 25, 2013 at 1:58 am | Reply
      • RMMTL

        The Cree and Inuit peoples voted 95% plus not to join an independent Quebec in 1995. The Eeyou Istchee (Cree) in particular have generations of experience fighting for their land and resource rights in court, and have considerable international support.

        So, yes, the status of the northern two-thirds of the province of Quebec – plus heavily federalist areas in the south – would be contested after any vote in favour of separation.

        December 25, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
      • HamiltonHabber

        At what point in my comment did I say aboriginals would keep any land? As I stated "IF Quebec were ever vote to secede from Canada, they will first lose 2/3 of their land to the native population which will stay with Canada". Notice the "stay with Canada"

        December 29, 2013 at 1:23 am |
  16. Rick

    Quebec is Noth America's Nazi moment , there is nothing more fascists in today's world than a Quebecker .

    December 23, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Reply
    • Elmo

      You need to get out more and learn about the real world not your racist mind

      December 25, 2013 at 1:58 am | Reply
  17. Robin

    Pure QuébecBashing

    December 23, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Reply
    • RMMTL

      Bill 60 is real Quebec bashing, for it offers Quebecers a dangerous mix of selective secularism, imposed atheism, Islamophobia, and public employment discrimination.

      December 24, 2013 at 2:42 am | Reply
  18. Elmo

    The author is clearly another clueless Torontonian that has no clue what is going on in Quebec and what the people who actually live here are thinking. Quebec does not want to separate and the population demographic that does is getting old and dying and is terrified that they will lose their pension and social security if Quebec separates. Ignore the clueless author.

    December 25, 2013 at 1:56 am | Reply
    • Merwin

      Elmo so is the rest of Canada, The baby boom is busting the banks when it comes to pension plans and Quebec has a gold plated plan !!!

      January 5, 2014 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  19. minnie mouse

    Are Canadians now required to like Islamists?

    December 25, 2013 at 2:42 am | Reply
  20. michel

    The author of this article and most of you don't know jack about Québec.
    The proposed new Charter, by the present governement, has nothing to do with the seperation of Québec from the rest of Canada.
    In fact, it is very simple.
    All it says is this:
    « believe in any god that you want but you can only worship in your temples and at home ».

    From the start of our society (1600's) until the 1960's, every aspect of our lives were dominated by the Catholic Church.
    And the Charter only makes sure that we do not go back to that era.

    I have never voted for the seperation of Québec from the rest of Canada.
    And you have to be very ill inform to believe that the New Charter has anything to do with that.

    December 27, 2013 at 9:02 am | Reply
    • RMMTL

      @Michel: Don't sell all of us short. We may know more than you think.

      The Roman Catholic Church's influence in Quebec society is already waning without the proposed Charter. Let's call a spade a spade. Bill 60 is both a diversion tactic by the PQ to distract the people from its woeful performance as a government, and a 'wedge' issue to coalesce support by religious-minority baiting.

      The PQ quasi-secular charter: A solution to a problem that does not exist...

      December 29, 2013 at 1:41 am | Reply
    • youdidwhat?

      you're fulla crap.

      January 3, 2014 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  21. Anglo ex-quebecois

    I was born and raised in la Belle Province, but moved to Toronto years ago, as many anglos do, seeing a better future for myself outside of the province. I am fiercely secular – so I understand the appeal of a law that idealistically aims to prevent society from slowly disintegrating along religious/sectarian lines..... but the practicalities of implementation on day 1 will reveal the law to be misguided.
    Imagine walking into a grade 2 class to tell the teacher, who may be beloved by her students, and who wears a hijab, to pack up her things? Or escorting out a cardiologist from the Jewish General hospital because he refuses to remove his yarmulka. there is a difference between being pro-secular and being anti-religious.
    This policy could only work if it faced zero resistance and 100% voluntary compliance. Once people resist and have to be fired by the province – walked out of hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc... it will be revealed as the amateurish and misguided attempt at populism by a single-issue political party that it is.

    December 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Reply
    • Daniel Daronda

      Very good comment. The "anti-hijab" law is merely an attempt by the infamously racist French in Quebec to copy their motherland France. Period. What is so sick about their thinking is that when the French were "occupying" Louisiana, Quebec, Algeria, Tahiti, Lebanon, Indo-China, Mauritius, Pondicherry, Morocco, etc., and were busy murdering the natives in all those countries and thieving from them, then it was a perfectly legitimate action huh??? But if some muslims in Quebec want to wear a "veil" over their heads, then it suddenly becomes sacrilege and has to be outlawed huh???

      January 1, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Reply
  22. Ambrose

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    December 28, 2013 at 10:28 am | Reply
  23. Bribarian

    Good for them, deport all non-French

    December 29, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Reply
  24. Canadian Red Ensign Flag

    Truth is, many Anglo's in Canada wish the freedom charter could also be applied to the rest of the country. Out of fear of speaking out, many Canadians are quietly and secretly sick with multiculturalism being shoved down their throats by successive governments who use multiculturalism to win over the ethnic vote.

    January 1, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    • Daniel Daronda

      Yes, you are so correct! Us Native Canadians are absolutely sick and fed up of multi-culturism being shoved down our throats, after they (Europeans) murdered half our people and stole just about everything we possessed!!!!!!!!!!!! Why don't both you Anglos and French just pack your bags and go back to where your ancestors came from.......... sickos............ the English murdered and thieved from natives in 60 countries while the French only murdered and thieved from natives in 30 countries.......... hmmmmmmmmmm.......... I wonder who is worse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      January 1, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Reply
  25. AtlantaRealist

    As someone who's worked the streets of both Atlanta and New Orleans, i feel sorry for Canada and Europe who are blindly letting in millions of Muslims/ Africans. Once your city is more than 30% black, you will start to see bulletproof glass in gasstations, and iron bars over ALL windows. Crime will skyrocket and your family will not be nearly as safe.
    And then of course there's the fact of the Muslims trying to establish Sharia law. They are not in a hurry, they have decades and decades of out-populating the natives to accomplish first. They do this very well!

    January 2, 2014 at 7:32 am | Reply
  26. Iknowmyhistory

    As someone who knows the history of the entire world really well, I feel sorry for every single non-white on planet earth since 1492 AD. It started with just one boatload of whites landing on our shores, who just happened to have guns whereas the natives in over 100 countries did not! No bullet proof glass or iron bars on windows. The crimes committed by these murdering thieves was unimaginably heinous! They took over the entire planet, murdering over half the natives as they went their merry way, having the audacity to shove their bible in your face after they had just killed your family! They were in no hurry, as history shows us this took centuries. They did it very well!

    January 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  27. askmeificare

    Who cares if French Quebec separates from British Canada. The French and the British have always hated each other and killed each other, fighting more wars than one cares to count. Typical European behavior!

    January 3, 2014 at 2:23 am | Reply
  28. youdidwhat?

    I say give them what they ask for.....serves them right and the rest of Canada would be better off. Somebody should have popped Quebec's tire a long time ago.

    January 3, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  29. dudley

    How can the Quebec teenager manage to take most of the Albertan parent's money with it when it secedes? This is the question.

    I say look to France for the financial support needed to move Quebec to the NW Terrs because there is no room for France on the American border. Trust me on this.

    January 4, 2014 at 1:17 am | Reply
  30. Craig Hubley

    The principle of the Charter of Values – secular neutral public services – is fine.

    Yes it came with clumsy rules which leave big crosses in public places and present Jewish or Sikh men or Muslim women with impossible dilemmas (while not inconveniencing Jewish or Sikh women nor Muslim men). But despite the deliberately patronizing reporting focusing only on this problem, and attempting to portray all of the supporters of the Charter as racist, a secular public service is a sound goal.

    Quebec's departure will hinge on other public valuescissues such as preserving administrative fairness, conflict of interest enforcement on publuc officials, investigation of electoral fraud by someone other than the fraudulently elected MPs themselves, role and support of science in public decisions, and investment in crime prevention and social services not in post facto punishment.

    And on infrastructure issues like high speed rail, modern power grids and electric vehicles, universal gigabit broadband... an industrial not dirty export economy.

    And an international law based framework for dealing with First Peoples.

    On all these fronts Quebec has more in common with the EU or the US than with Harperite Canada.

    If Manitoba falls to the far right and if Tim Hudak imposes his incompetent 1920s style economics on Ontario, the stage will be well set. Quebec will be sore pressed to justify remaining in the country that arranged the mass murder in Lac Megantic (mislabelled cars, no GPS on cars, special permits to only two oil shippers to operate with one man, a fite dept sent home before the blast, a public official suspended without explanation – this does not add up to "accident").

    When Tar Sands writedowns take out the false Harper economy and the housing bubble crashes, Canada may repent.

    But by then it may well be a smaller country.

    The Maritimes and Newfoundland would be better off as small transatlantic broker states like Iceland or Ireland than to remain tied to rump Canada over two borders.

    Confederation made the Maritimes poor. Its end will be welcomed by anyone who studies the history of transatlantic trade and telecommunication.

    In an era of cheap energy land routes are important. When energy is expensive, it's the sea that counts...

    February 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm | Reply

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