Magazine article Canadian Dimension

On Secularism and Inclusion

Magazine article Canadian Dimension

On Secularism and Inclusion

Article excerpt

THE BOUCHARD-TAYLOR REPORT on reasonable accommodations, published in the spring of 2008, has so far not had any significant follow up. Some of the recommendations of the commission were to clarify the unfinished model, of Quebec secularism that Quebec society has been aspiring to in the last few decades. Today, however, one could say that the concept of secularism is increasingly bogged down in incoherence and even confusion.

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Media all around continue to spin up anecdotes about unreasonable accommodations. These incidents, and the decisions that followed, contributed in indirectly defining the model of a pseudo-secularism, which is beginning to set precedence and mainly seeks to create boundaries for the coexistence of various religions within the public sphere, all the while not permitting financing by the state of religious institutions or activities. This process, however, is far from being a factor of unity for the Quebec nation.

The Conseil du Statut de la Femme recommended in 2007 that employees of the state be prohibited from wearing ostentatious religious symbols during their time of work. This did not prevent the minister responsible, Mme Christine Saint-Pierre, from pronouncing herself in favor of religious symbols being worn by government employees--including the Islamic veil.

Some reduce the Islamic veil to the ranks of a cultural symbol or of a customary fashion statement, in order to avoid the fundamental debate on the religious question or on the domination of women by religion.

In November 2009, Quebec solidaire's (QS) congress adopted an equivocal position on the question. On the one hand, it affirmed its commitment to secularism and on the other it opened the door to the wearing of religious symbols by government employees. Much like the Quebec Women Federation's position, many understood this as an opening for immigrant women in the process of integrating into Quebec society. …

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