I was reading Chris Selley’s piece about the gong show that is the Quebec election, and how Quebec somehow manages to maintain policies, attitudes and opinions that anywhere else in Canada (and the rest of the civilized world) would be beyond the pale of polite society. But the Party Quebecois’ (the “PQ”) latest proposal takes the cake.
The PQ’s proposal is to prohibit Quebec civil servants from displaying religious symbols at work. OK, I understand the argument that people don’t want civil servants to display religious symbols (I don’t generally agree with it, but that’s a different discussion). If that was what the PQ was proposing, it would be a bad policy (Quebec has bigger things to worry about, namely becoming the Greece of Canada), but not an embarrassingly stupid one.
But no, that isn’t the idea, the PQ’s proposal is to ban civil servants from displaying religious symbols… except for the GIANT FREAKING CRUCIFIX SITTING IN THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY That’ll stay. And “small” crucifixes that people wear around their necks? (As opposed to people who show up at work looking like this?) Yeah, those can stay too. And Christmas Trees? (isn’t “winter solstice conifers” the approved secular term?) Bien sure, that’s part of Quebec’s traditional heritage. (Really? Our good friends at wikipedia tell us that the modern Christmas Tree originated in Germany and were first brought to Quebec by German soldiers serving the British Crown, before being popularized by the Queen Victoria and her family. Seems more like an example of the baleful influence of “les anglais”. But I digress).
So let me get this straight, in the name of secularism, they’re proposing to ban displays of religious symbols, except for the symbols that Christians display. Gotcha, religious iconography bad, unless it’s the religion of the majority than, hey, it’s “tradition” (whether it is or not). By that logic, Iran is model of secularism, seeing as it bans all religious displays and books, well, with the exception of Islamic displays, and the Koran, but hey, that’s just tradition. You know, traditionally, banning religious displays of all religions except one was the policy of the theocracy (um, like Iran), not the secular democracy. But then they say Quebec is a distinct society… maybe the whole “religious freedom” thing just doesn’t translate well into French.