This is a letter to the editor published in the Montreal Gazette. The writer is Cheri Bell, an articulate commercial lawyer. Cheri’s letter reflects her considerable passion for Quebec society.  It is an excellent opinion piece that deserves praise and wide circulation. Well done Cheri.

N

THE GAZETTE, OCTOBER 4, 2013

As a member of several minority demographics — I’m a Jewish, female, anglophone Quebecer — I am thoroughly embarrassed and concerned by the proposed Charter of Quebec Values. Taken together with other nationalist PQ policies, actual and proposed, such as Bill 101 with its expanding scope, Bill 14, the xenophobic manipulation of the reasonable accommodation principle for political gain and the seemingly innocuous proposal to extend a mandatory Quebec History course — or, should I say, more “identity propaganda” — to the CEGEP level, all send the clear but disturbing message that one population segment (francophones de souche) holding one religious viewpoint (secularism, now via a state-imposed reaction to the rigid Catholicism of Quebec’s past) is the only authentic, appropriate and welcome demographic in Quebec. These retrograde and anti-democratic policies create government-sanctioned divisions and prejudice in our society, not the cohesion the government is claiming to promote.

Growing examples of harassment of veiled women on our streets not only were foreseeable, but are sure to extend to other visible religious minorities. This is because “cohesion” cannot be legislated through enforced secularism. Doing so not only distorts the principle of separation of church and state, but creates an absurd homogeneity à la Harry Potter’s Ministry of Magic.

True tolerance, acceptance of the “other,” comes about through mutual exposure, not by state-imposed repression of the “other.”

And where will it stop? Whether or not personally affected by the charter of values and these other myopic policies, we must unite against them; and against the narrow-minded, agenda-driven government that endorses them. Let us all show the PQ that we do not accept its regressive, divisive policies. We, in our gorgeous diversity, are all Québécois, and we will not be concealed.

It is also not because the proposed charter of values goes too far, as Jacques Parizeau has said, but because it exists at all. These are not my values. Nor are they the values of many enlightened Québécois. The Charter of Quebec Values is a shameful blight on Quebec’s political landscape that both underestimates and undermines the openness of the Quebec people.

Cheri Bell

Cheri Bell is a concerned citizen, wife and mother who resides in Montreal, Quebec (Canada). She is a commercial and contracts lawyer who is the acting General Counsel and Director of Purchasing for the City of Côte Saint-Luc.

 

Advertisements