charter of values
“Canadians would agree that, when you’re either receiving or giving public services,you would have your face uncovered.” - Multiculturalism Minister Tim Uppal
Recently, a former Quebec journalist argued that Canada's mainstream broadcasters were hypocritical for seeming to lend a sympathetic ear to those opposing the proposed Charter of Values. "Not a kippa, hijab, cross or turban in sight. Religious symbols are, quite simply, not part of the TV news uniform; never have been," wrote Micheal Dean in the Globe and Mail. And while he's right in that there are few Canadian journalists sporting symbols of their faith, the premise for his argument needs to be turned on its head. Rather than justify the Parti Québécois's bid to limit freedom of religion in its public institutions, the media's lack of representation of diverse communities must be called out for what it is: a letdown for democracy.
The Quebec Association of Health and Social Service Institutions has reported that none of its members have ever had any problem with staff who wear religious apparel, and the Bouchard-Taylor Commission found -- after examining 900 briefs and 13 academic studies -- that the supposed crisis of religious accommodation was largely a "crisis of perception."
Quebec's Human Rights Commission has taken the highly unusual step of commenting on a government proposal, delivering one of the most forceful rebukes yet to the Parti Québécois' Charter of Quebec Values. According to the Commission, the values charter would represent "a clear break" with Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
While there's little serious debate in the Canadian press about the overall need for the Quebec charter and the headgear bans within, there's still much back-and-forth to be had regarding why the Quebeckers created the thing in the first place, and whether those motives are sympathetic or sinister. It's entirely possible for the Quebec charter to be a cynical vote-grab stemming from the dark side of Canadian politics, while also allowing that the "problem" the headgear ban seeks to solve is real and legitimate.