The Quebec Charter of Values threatens to radically reshape the character of the province, but this is also a fulcrum moment for Canada as a whole.
So it’s time for politicians from all three major federal parties to show leadership in opposing it, condemning the charter as the discriminatory document that it is, and acknowledging the far-reaching implications it would have in Quebec and beyond its borders.
Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Leader, should be praised for showing prompt leadership in opposing the proposal, in both English and French. His impassioned call for Quebecers and Canadians to rise above “divisive identity politics” was inspiring. “We are going to fight against this charter, which does not represent the openness of spirit of Quebeckers,” he said.
And Thomas Mulcair, the NDP Leader, rightly described the proposal as “state-mandated discrimination.”
Admittedly, the stakes are higher for the Harper government to criticize the proposal, balanced against its need to manage its relationship with Quebec.
To his credit, however, Jason Kenney, the Minister of Employment and Multiculturalism, vowed to rigorously defend the constitutional rights of those Quebeckers whose freedom of religion would be threatened by the Charter of Values. Even the Bloc Québécois has asked for more time to consider its response, astonishingly distancing itself from the PQ.
Ottawa’s united response is heartening, because it lifts the debate into the national sphere. After all, the proposed Charter of Values is not just an affront to ethnic minorities in Quebec. It should offend every Canadian who believes in the multicultural values of our country.