I’ve seen mention a couple of times in the last few days that polls in Quebec, Canada are showing an increase in the number of Quebecers who believe that non-Christian immigrants are a threat to their culture. I don’t know much about what is happening in Canada, so I can’t make a judgement about recommendations made here, but thought I should make readers aware that there is an on-going open debate about preserving the province’s culture.
On the one-year anniversary of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission report — it was released on May 22, 2008 — which recommended more openness and tolerance on the part of heritage Quebecers for the cultural habits and religious expression of newcomers to Quebec, it appears the report has had no effect whatsoever. Or at least not the effect the commission wanted.
Quebecers are not only resisting the commission’s recommendations, their attitudes have hardened. A Leger Marketing poll commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies, conducted May 13-16, found that 40% of Quebec francophones view non-Christian immigrants as a threat to Quebec society, as compared to 32% in 2007.
No doubt galvanized by the Bouchard-Taylor experience, which many Quebecers felt was over-solicitous of immigrants’ feelings and under-appreciative of heritage values and customs, the Movement Laique Québeçois (Quebec Secular Movement) (MLQ) has called upon the provincial government to draw up a social contract that would affirm Quebec’s secular character.
The MLQ proposes the implementation of a secular charter of fundamental rights, which would include neutrality around religion in publicly funded fields. It is asking specifically for a ban on religious symbolism in the outerwear — including kippas, hijabs and crosses — of all employees in the public sector, such as medicine, education and law courts.
I always did think it was a good idea to get out of the public school system anyway, however one needed to make that happen, so maybe as schools get necessarily more cumbersome people will bail out.