One of my earliest memories happened when I was in hospital with a hernia at age three. The place was run by the Grey Nuns, and at that tender age, I learned a lot about penguins.
Nuns’ habits are much simpler nowadays, but very soon in Quebec you may not even see a cross around the neck of your nurse or doctor. The minority separatist government of Pauline Marois will soon be introducing a Charter of Quebec Values. Reports suggest that it will prohibit the wearing of all religious headwear and other personal religious symbols in all public institutions.
Schools and hospitals spring to mind first and foremost, but I’m sure it won’t end there. We got a preview of what was coming a few months ago when the Quebec Soccer Federation, with the support of the Premier, prohibited the wearing of turbans on the field. The reason was an unexplained concern that wearing them might pose a safety hazard.
It was pure nonsense, and the ban was eventually lifted after everyone up the food chain to FIFA made noise about it.
The late Mordecai Richler used to describe his home province as a hotbed of ‘tribalism’. Over many decades Quebec was not a place where religious minorities were made to feel comfortable. Until the Quiet Revolution of the early 1960’s, the Catholic church dominated much of life in the province, especially education.
With this bizarre Charter, Quebec seems poised to get a lot more attention for all the wrong reasons. The headline in the Globe and Mail the other day said it all: “Critics call proposed ban Putinesque”.
It’s a reference to the boss in Russia who seems determined to stamp out any sexual activity that’s not traditionally heterosexual, even at the risk of spoiling the Winter Olympics which are less than six months away.
It’s a somewhat appropriate comparison, and Premier Marois has a great deal of ‘splaining’ to do.
I’m Roger Currie