Friday, May 23, 2008

Multiculturalism in Quebec

Ever since Herouxville came out with their Guide to Immigrants, people started to realize that Quebecers weren't handling their immigrants very well. There's been a problem with immigration in Quebec ever since the British decided that they could stamp out the French by making their language illegal.

So the Bouchard-Taylor Commission was given the task of figuring out what reasonable accommodations should be made.

The conclusion was pretty simple. Public buildings should not showcase religious symbols. Public servants should not wear religious items. People, meanwhile, such as students, should be permitted to wear the religious items of their choice.

They walk a pretty fine line though, as far as accommodation is concerned. According to the article, one can not expect that separate swimming classes would be held for boys and girls simply because a religion forbids boys and girls to be in bathing suits within sight of each other.

It's a pretty decent report, though I obviously haven't read the whole thing. They are working to keep church and state separate - a good idea known to anyone who has read history. When church and state collude, we get the corruption of both for the sake of power. The dogmatic views of religion do not get along with the concepts of freedom and democracy.

My only problem comes down to this. Does this forbid Christians from wearing their crosses while on duty - say as police officers or at city hall? If the Christians who make up the largest chunk of religious people in this country are being told that they should forsake their religious symbols while serving their country (in whatever capacity) what are we going to do about the Sikhs who are allowed to wear turbans while on duty with the RCMP?

How is that fair?

Don't get me wrong. I'm all in favour of a nation that leaves religion as a personal matter. People must be allowed to believe whatever they want about gods, pre-marital sex, pork, shellfish, beef, voodoo, the I Ching and hookers. The government should protect your right to believe but not enforce any one belief (or non-belief) over any other. That's a free society.

I just think it's stupid to make the majority abide by this rule while letting a minority get away with breaking it. Even the appearance of unfairness is enough to make an idea like this fail, never mind an actual concrete example of unfairness.

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