The Parti Quebecois is proposing new legislation that would prevent state workers from wearing any “ostentatious” religious symbols. Earrings, small pendants, and necklaces are fine. Turbans, head scarves, and burqas are not. Naturally, items like the giant crucifix hanging in the National Assembly and Christmas trees are exempt on account of their cultural significance. Also exempt are municipal workers, university staff, and elected officials, on account of no reason whatsoever.
The intent of the legislation is twofold. Firstly, the promotion of cultural unity. This is, of course, best achieved by passing legislation that subjugates other cultures, in favour of Quebec’s precious French Catholic heritage. The legislation prohibits wearing excessively large crucifixes as well, to be sure. But life-size crucifixes aren’t usually required by one’s religion; a head scarf or turban may be.
The second purpose is to promote the secularism of the state. The state is supposed to have no religious affiliation, so of course state workers wearing large religious symbols compromise its neutrality. Small items do not, though, as those obviously aren’t religious at all. Apart from its strange logic, the legislation misses an important point entirely. A secular state is one that does not promote a religion, not one that promotes no religion. Secularism is not state atheism.
In case you’re worried, this phenomenon won’t spread outside of Quebec. It’s uncertain it’ll get passed in the first place, and the Tories have promised to investigate its constitutionality if it does. Specific to Ontario, Premier Wynne has come out against it.
What does the proposal seek to accomplish, then? Does it have a purpose other than the flimsy, inconsistent justifications already mentioned? The only explanation other than the Parti being raving lunatics is that they are pandering to their base; the population that voted for Premier Marois seems strongly in favour, while everyone else expresses distaste. Fox News has nothing on the Parti when it comes to pandering. Say, has anyone seen Romney recently?