by Daniel Weinstock
So sad. First, let nobody try telling me that this law has anything to do with secularism. A law whose application will impact Quebecers in such an asymmetric way is “secular” in name only.
This government has just given the signal that minorities, and one in particular, can be attacked – in the street, in institutions, in public debate – while invoking the “secularism!” slogan. I was in France, where Marine Le Pen and her Front National have well understood this toxic alchemy.
Furthermore, don’t try telling me that there is any link whatsoever with Quebec languages laws. They are inclusive, in the sense that all Quebec residents can without having to set aside who they are learn our language and take part in making it the common public language. A law that puts some of our fellow citizens – and especially, let’s just say it loud and clear, female citizens – where they must make a heartbreaking choice – to work or live according to her convictions – is of an
entirely different nature.
Moreover, this choice is not motivated by any notion of the superior public good, other than that of the ethnocultural majority that quite simply does not feel like tolerating “the other” in its various differences.
Law 101 establishes the conditions for a possibly inclusive “we.” This wicked law takes us back to an exclusive “we” – a wakeup call to minorities on where they stand.
As the son of Jewish parents from Eastern Europe who fled state tribalism that had turned the old continent into a mass graveyard, I have never felt that so little of me is Québécois.
Daniel Weinstock has a DPhil in Philosophy from Oxford University, is the James McGill professor in the McGill Law Faculty, and Director of the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy.