Who actually applauded Quebec’s values charter?

The big news: The PQ’s allies are hard to find

Clement Allard/CP

Bernard Drainville and Pauline Marois are, today, the public faces of much public outrage. The pair stood in Quebec’s National Assembly and announced their government’s proposed charter of values. Drainville, the minister in charge, and Marois, the premier, outlined which religious symbols—most of them, with some exceptions and various grace periods—would be banned in public workplaces. Weeks ago, a leak to a reporter made it clear this was coming.

On Aug. 27, Paul Wells wrote about the Parti Quebecois’ motivation to introduces such a charter.

There is a rich debate, in French, among Quebecers, over the wisdom of the Values Charter. Portraying the debate as a polarized dialogue of the deaf between Quebec and “English Canada” is not only a key pillar of PQ strategy; it is the only meagre hope of salvation Pauline Marois’s wretched government can find.

When the PQ released its proposal, all kinds of people who spoke English and lived outside of Quebec howled so immediately it almost hurt. This morning, all the newspapers outside of Quebec went to town on the charter. The Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Star and the Ottawa Citizen ran front-page stories rife with condemnation from all corners. The Globe‘s editorialists called the charter “horrible,” “unthinkable,” and “frightening.” The Star‘s editorialists called the plan “outrageous,” and “unworthy” of Quebec. Postmedia’s Michael Den Tandt called the proposal an “abomination.” The list of condemners runs uncommonly long.

The Quebec vs. English Canada battle doesn’t seem to be taking shape, exactly. Martin Patriquin reminds us that it’s easy to find opposition to the charter in Quebec. Even the Bloc Quebecois, the PQ’s happy cousins in Ottawa, didn’t endorse the plan. In fact, Patriquin writes, various polls and interest groups’ views indicate Quebecers “seem to want their government to focus more on the purse strings than head coverings.”

Maybe, then, this is dead in the water, given the inevitable legal challenges and the enormous fight it’ll take just to implement the thing. But the PQ knew about all of this in the rocky weeks leading up to yesterday. Why, then, go on with the show?


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail  Quebec’s government proposes its Charter of Values.
National Post  The Parti Quebecois defends its secular vision for the province.
Toronto Star  The feds could challenge Quebec’s proposed values charter.
Ottawa Citizen  Federal leaders across parties condemn Quebec’s proposal.
CBC News Barack Obama delays a congressional vote on a Syria strike.
CTV News The UN claims the Assad regime is behind eight massacres.
National Newswatch  Jim Flaherty loses a top aide to the private sector.

What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL Racial tension. Seasonal workers who find jobs in Leamington, Ont., greenhouses have drawn the ire of local residents. The mayor says some of the men who take up residence, many of them from Caribbean islands, sexually harass local women. Workers’ rights groups say latent racism in the community may inflame the situation.
THE GLOBAL Egypt. Egypt’s interim government stripped 40,000 imams of their licences to deliver sermons—unless they’re certified by Al Azhar University, a moderate government institution. The move is part of a broader effort to discourage the Islamist movement that fuelled the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power after the Arab Spring.
THE BIZARRE Fat phobia. Yale University researchers suggest that a large portion of mental health professionals who treat patients with eating disorders say those struggling with weight issues “have poor self-control, no willpower, and are self-indulgent, unattractive and insecure.” More than half of those surveyed said colleagues had made such derogatory comments.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.