He admits he made a mistake. One of the leading minds of Canada, a scholar of international acclaim, admits he was he was in error.

Philosopher Charles Taylor says a decade after his report on reasonable accommodation, he had it wrong.

“I made a mistake, if you never learn from your mistakes, you’re never going to learn”

In 2008 when the secular fanatics had started fanning the flames of discrimination in small towns like Herouxville, Taylor and historian Gerald Bouchard wrote a report recommending that public servants be prevented from wearing religious symbols.

The report became the inspiration for the CAQ’s unconstitutional Bill 21.

Taylor this week said what he was not aware of in 2008 , was the hate and opposition movements that existed in our society. He says he was very naive

“Counter-feminism, counter integration, counter human rights, counter a society where people understand each other.  Counter everything we believe in our society”

Those are powerful words, and they should be not taken lightly

But Legault has no problem with abrogating human rights guarantees found in the Canadian and Quebec Charters.  As interim Liberal leader Pierre Arcand points out.

“We are taking about a notwithstanding clause that’s included for the first time in legislation and that’s pretty significant”

Legault is engaging in dog whistle politics and legislation like this brings out the worst in the worst elements of society.

A Way Out

It may not be the right thing but  If Legault wants the Bill 21 embarrassment to go away.  He needs to do one thing and one thing only.

Exclude teachers.   This bill is largely about teachers and headscarves.   The rest is not a huge issue. There are no cops anywhere in Quebec wearing religious garb.   It might not be a perfect solution and it would still be unconstitutional , but it would be an easy out politically.   Stop targeting women of different faiths who look and sound different than les vraies Quebecois from the white bread CAQ base of  St Louis d’intolerance.  

Do Unto Others?

 In the midst of all this, we got a theology lesson from the premier this week.

Francois Legault was musing about religion the existence of God.

Our premier said “ I hope God exists, but I have no confirmation.”

I’m not sure how this fits into the Bill 21 debate.   But I hope that when Legault can confirm this, he will share it.   And maybe it will help change his mind on this dreadful piece of legislation.

A Growing Menace

Intolerance of others a direct result of official  policies that target difference. You see it everyday in America. Trump has made it ok to be a racist.

Here in Quebec, signs of intolerance are growing. 

There was the Anjou borough councillor complaining about being treated by an eye doctor wearing a scarf

And this week a group of minority workers at the Heart Institute was reprimanded for speaking Spanish in a private conversation while on a break.   Others have complained they were told to speak French when they had some private words in Arabic.  Fo Niemi of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations says there is real problem.

“Many of these minority workers feel that they’re being policed, feeling like they’re under constant scrutiny and working in a very toxic environment”

An isolated case?  The Heart Institute says so and it boasts an official policy of diversity and inclusion. Maybe, but as English-Speaking Quebecers we have all at one point or another faced some hardline language jerks.   And we all know that our last name or our accent can be an obstacle in Quebec particularly in finding good jobs.

What Bill 21 does is give further license for bigotry.   

As Charles Taylor warns, it legitimizes prejudices.    

Is that the kind of society we want Mr Legault.?  For God’s sake, or not.