A response to a Scaramouche piece from the fine blogger and Binks-friend over at Poste De Vielle.
“Rights” amock: Welcome to la belle province, where all men are created equal, but women have more “rights” than men–and those rights somehow trump free speech. Globe and Mail columnist Lysiane Gagnon unpacks the madness
The piece by Lysianne Gagnon is so deeply flawed in describing what’s currently happening in Quebec, I feel the need to straighten up some facts.
First, the cases by the SAAQ (societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec) involved a Hassidic Jew not wanting to take driving lessons from a female instructor, but also muslim women not wanting to sit alone in a car with a male instructor. And the HR Commission said the religious beliefs of these clients should be accommodated. Both male and female civil servants have been “discriminated” to accommodate the religious beliefs of citizens.
Free speech was never an issue; the only issue was religious beliefs versus equality between men/women. Which right should prevail when they enter into conflict. The Canadian constitution contains a provision stating that the equality between men and women should not be compromised in the name of the promotion of “multiculturalism” enshrined into the constitution (and reasonable accommodation is a tool to promote multiculturalism). Many would want a similar clear provision in the Quebec Charter, but critics (including Pearl Heliadis) object to this “hierarchy of rights”.
There is currently another debate within the debate The call for a “charte de la laïcité” (which I believe would be useless, but that is another matter) deals only with the neutrality of civil servants. People object to civil servants exhibiting ostentatious religious symbols, be it the hijab, the kirpan, etc. Civil servants have a duty of political neutrality, and much of the debate has centered on the “political message” of the hijab, not only the niqab or burka.
I am disappointed at the way this is “spinned” outside Quebec. Believe me dear Binks, Lysiane Gagnon is wrong and those who advocate hijab-free civil servants, teachers, hospital workers, or object to religious beliefs trumping the equality between men and women are not radical feminists and do not in any way shape or form threaten freedom of speech.