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If the Parti Québécois government thought it could sneak its proposed Charter of Quebec Values past the rest of Canada, it thought wrong. Readers, print and digital, had plenty to say about displays of personal faith in the public realm (Clement Allard/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
If the Parti Québécois government thought it could sneak its proposed Charter of Quebec Values past the rest of Canada, it thought wrong. Readers, print and digital, had plenty to say about displays of personal faith in the public realm (Clement Allard/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

THE CONVERSATION

Aug. 31: This week’s Talking Point – the Charter of Quebec Values – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

If the Parti Québécois government thought it could sneak its proposed Charter of Quebec Values past the rest of Canada, it thought wrong. Readers, print and digital, had plenty to say about displays of personal faith in the public realm

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Far from “unifying” anyone, the Charter of Quebec Values will push the province back into an era of protectionism and discrimination, the very thing so many people in Quebec fought to get away from. Secularism is just another “religion” that discourages communication and unity and fosters divisiveness.

Peggy Hutchison, Singhampton, Ont.

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I think people should wear these symbols if the ban comes in. Even those who would not ordinarily wear one should do so in protest.

Andrea Blaustein, Gatineau, Que.

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How long will it be until the PQ starts debating the length of a Sikh or Muslim’s beard?

Usman Tahir, Toronto

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If the PQ truly wants state employees of integrity, they should be examining principles, not apparel.

Yes, visible symbols of faith reveal an individual’s spiritual beliefs, but they don’t really demonstrate one’s inner character. I am Christian, but I don’t assume that someone desires to know God simply because he or she wears a crucifix.

Andrew Hung, Richmond, B.C.

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Twenty-three Ontario municipalities use Christian prayer in their deliberations. The Ontario Legislature starts work with the Lord’s Prayer. And the federal House of Parliament recites Christian prayer every time it meets.

Yes, the PQ steps outside the bounds by attacking personal religious expression. But here, all three levels of government make the more insidious transgression of incorporating religion into their operations.

Peter Ferguson, Kimberley, Ont.

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There is a fine line between religion and tribalism. Religion’s purpose is to promote virtue, altruism and co-operative behaviour and to allay the fear of death. Religious freedom is being able to believe in whichever god or gods one wishes. I congratulate Ms. Marois’s government for having the sense to ban tribalism in public service while still allowing religious freedom.

Jane Wilson, Toronto

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The way to ensure religious neutrality in the public service is to judge public servants on the basis of what they do, not what they wear. It’s only when public servants allow their religious beliefs to adversely affect the performance of their official duties that some measures might have to be taken.

James Duthie, Nanaimo, B.C.

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Religion has to stay at your house. God lives inside you, not in a turban or crucifix. Secularism is the proper way to conduct a society. Total support to Quebec!

Ulises Martinez, Toronto

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Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney suggested he wants to wait and see Quebec’s proposed legislation before he criticizes it, but he did say that Canadians generally believe in religious freedom. Maybe he should get the Conservatives’ new Office of Religious Freedom to look into it.

Manuel Matas, Winnipeg

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Let people wear whatever they want. It’s just clothing. As long as they are performing well in their public-sector job and the clothing doesn’t affect their performance, then what’s the harm?

Colin Gruchy, Toronto

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Quebec is a more secular society than Canada. We do not expect you to understand what that implies.

This very conservative Canada you are building is a very different society than Quebec. Your bewilderment is reciprocal.

Lise Venne, Montreal

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For Quebeckers who might want to protest the new religious restrictions, I have a suggestion: Wear a cross, but upside-down – like an upside-down flag. It will signal distress.

John Owen, Dartmouth, N.S.

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In other parts of Canada, the goal of a secular society has been achieved by welcoming a wide range of religious diversity in the public realm. No religion is privileged above another. This is a secular society that doesn’t have to legislate how people dress.

Richard Chambers, director, University of Toronto Multi-Faith Centre

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Get all of it out of the public realm altogether. Religion is to be practised at home and at your place of worship. That’s it!

Eric Cloutier, Gatineau, Que.

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I think a ban on symbols and dress is truly un-Canadian. I hope this proposed limitation on freedom of religion and freedom of expression does not stick.

Hanna Daber, Vancouver

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I think it’s unconstitutional. One of our fundamental freedoms is freedom of expression. People shouldn’t ram their religious views down others’ throats, but nor does anyone have the right to stifle someone’s right to express themselves in a civilized manner.

Alec Smith, Elora, Ont.

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Quebec has a right to define its culture.

Diana Dillman, Vancouver

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Watching my beloved Quebec destroy bridges and introduce intolerance makes me sad. This isn’t what I expected when I adopted the province as my new home after fleeing the same intolerance and similar legislation that led to the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan.

Mohammad Usman Ahmed, Brossard, Que.

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My, oh my. Where is Mordecai Richler when we need him most?

J.P. Morrison, Ancaster, Ont.

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ON REFLECTION MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Democracy at work

After a long, healthy debate and two votes, the British Parliament votes against military action in Syria (U.K. Rejects Attack, U.S. On Its Own – Aug. 30). This is parliamentary democracy at work.

Kudos to Prime Minister David Cameron for respecting his country’s democratic institutions. And a pox on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for ripping ours to shreds (On Syria, Harper Should Follow Britain And Recall Parliament – Aug. 28).

Mark Khoury, Montreal

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Dangerous model

Paul Heinbecker’s analysis of the West’s problem in Syria (Don’t Repeat History, Or Be Paralyzed By It – Aug. 29) is excellent, but his advice that Kosovo provides a model for a NATO response is dangerous.

The attack was an unqualified failure. Slobodan Milosevic remained in power more than a year afterward. He was turned out of office and sent to The Hague only after the Yugoslav army threw its support behind the dissidents that were muzzled during the hostilities.

Raphael Girard, former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia, 1997-1999

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Incomplete answer

Findings that suggest a BA isn’t worth the tuition is nothing new (Math Two Ways – letters, Aug. 30). The usual response is to say education is about more than its payoff. But with the increased cost of degrees, this is no longer a complete answer.

It’s time to stop structuring university as a choice between discrete areas of study. Schools have a responsibility to offer education that combines the social value of an arts education and the practical, “return on investment” value of science and engineering streams.

Catherine Lovering, Vancouver

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Moral obligation

Since when did the “economic interests” of a few people in suits get put in front of the health interests of the masses (Concussions: Will The NHL Follow? – Folio, Aug. 30)? Especially when the masses include hundreds of thousands of children.

If we are to continue to make progress against concussions and associated diseases, the Canadian Football League has a moral obligation to share what its knows. And if not the league, then the doctors who work for it. I’m sure they’ve heard of the Hippocratic Oath.

Jenny Dea, Toronto

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