Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Rightlessness in an Age of Rights: Book Note

Rightlessness in an Age of Rights: Hannah Arendt and the Contemporary Struggles of Migrants, by Ayten Gündoğlu: Book Note

(Note: I wrote this book review for Human Rights Quarterly: I am posting it with the permission of the editor, Bert Lockwood; the publication information is New York: Oxford University Press, 2015)

In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt famously called for the “right to have rights.” Reflecting on her own status as a stateless refugee from Germany, Arendt broadened her analysis to include the problem of statelessness as a whole. Ayten Gündoğdu engages with the entirety of Arendt’s opus, especially with The Human Condition and On Revolution as well as with The Origins, to unpack the various meanings and implications of this call.

Gündoğdu starts with what Arendt called the “perplexity” of the contradiction between state sovereignty and the universal enjoyment of human rights. Then and now, rights are protected--or not--by sovereign states that normally extend their protection only to their citizens, and perhaps non-citizens legally in their territory. The naked human being, unmoored from the state-people-territory framework, has no rights.

Gündoğdu extends Arendt’s argument to cover all migrants, not only stateless people, focusing on their powerlessness and dehumanization. She grounds her analysis empirically in the dehumanization experienced by residents of camps for refugees and displaced people. She also refers to the appalling detention camps now dotting the world’s island geography, where potential refugee claimants live in endless limbo.

Hannah Arendt
Gündoğdu discusses the ways in which human beings actually manufacture, claim, and win human rights. She notes that Arendt criticized the “urge to approach social issues with a moralistic framework centered on compassion,” positioning those who faced injustice as “victims…erasing their singularity and denying them equal standing.”(p. 57) Gündoğdu analyzes the limits of compassion in the treatment of camp-dwellers, people without political agency who are mere objects to be administered. She is correct that compassion is not the best basis for solidarity. Camp dwellers cannot rely on compassion if they are to be treated as equal human beings enjoying liberty. Compassion and charity leave the human being at the mercy of others, mostly those of higher status who cannot help but look down upon those who are their administrative objects.

Nevertheless, the real problem here is not that residents of refugee camps must rely on the compassion of those who administer them. Such administrators are probably well aware of the problems of subjecting residents to charity, but they are limited in what they can do by financial constraints and the state system. The UNHRC, other agencies of the UN system such as UNICEF, and non-governmental organizations such as Médecins sans Frontières are dependent upon voluntary financial contributions from states and compassionate private citizens. These voluntary contributions rarely, if ever, reach the amount needed merely to ensure that residents are not riddled by disease or suffering from malnutrition.

Gündoğdu defends Arendt against charges of élitism made by other philosophers with whose work she engages. Arendt is criticized for denigrating manual and other kinds of labor, but Gündoğdu argues that she views both labor and work as crucial to human dignity. According to Gündoğdu, Arendt defined labor as day-to-day bodily maintenance and maintenance of one’s home and surroundings. This labor grounds the individual in the material world and provides her with a sense of routine, permanence, and community with others. By work, Arendt apparently meant creativity, the ability to make or build something new and worthwhile. Both labor and work are denied to residents of camps. Dependent for their every need on the compassion of others, they endure lives of complete boredom without social roles or responsibilities. This is a degraded form of “life,” without meaning or substance.

Gündoğdu argues that Arendt did not rely on what philosophers call foundational principles of human rights. Rather, Arendt used an approach that Gündoğdu calls “founding.” Rights, she argues along with Arendt, are founded in political action, including “inaugural speech acts that bring forth new rights,” such as the French and American revolutionary documents (p. 209). To show how founding still applies, Gündoğdu describes the political movement of sans-papiers (people without papers) in France in the 1990s. Deliberately referencing the urban sans-culottes of the 1789 Revolution, this late twentieth-century movement demanded the same rights as citizens of France, claiming “rights that they [were] not yet authorized to claim” (p. 189).

Gündoğdu discusses the 18th century foundational principle for human rights, what Ētienne Balibar calls “equaliberty” (p. 23). This conjoining of the principles of equality and liberty is not enough, however, to ensure the rights of twenty-first century migrants. Indeed, it is not enough to ensure the rights of anyone, including citizens of rights-protective democratic states. Even if citizens enjoy formal legal and political equality and the liberty to pursue their own interests, they may not be able to enjoy all their other human rights, especially their economic and social rights. Enjoyment of these rights requires a sense of community among all citizens and a state that engages in distributive and redistributive measures that ensure everyone’s access to a basic minimum of material security, as well as access to educational and cultural resources that permit all citizens to be efficacious members of their own political community.       

How to extend this sense of community to strangers is a difficult question, however. Such extension requires recognition of “others” as human beings, whatever their differences.  But such recognition does not mean that these others will be welcomed as full citizens into states that are otherwise democratic and rights-protective. Probably all Gündoğdu’s readers will agree with her principal concerns, that migrants should have human rights, that they should not have to rely on charity or compassion, and that they should be permitted to engage in political action and organization, whether within the camps to which they are confined or in the countries in which they enjoy no or precarious residency rights. These principles, however, confront limited material resources and limited integrational capacities, even in states that welcome (carefully-controlled numbers of ) refugees and immigrants. And they confront everywhere racist and nativist reactions against perceived foreigners. Sadly, the right to belong to humanity does not yet mean the right to citizenship.

While Gündoğdu’s reading of Arendt and other philosophers is profound and her arguments persuasive, her book ignores some legal and political realities. From the point of view of actual law and politics, her conflation of different types of people who no longer live in their homeland is confusing.

Of the 232 million people that the United Nations tells us are people living outside the countries of their birth, some are legal migrants in or naturalized citizens of their new countries: for example, about twenty per cent of Canada’s 36 million residents are foreign-born, among whom most are legal residents and a substantial number are citizens. Figures differentiating naturalized citizens, legal migrants, migrants without legal status, refugees, refugee claimants, and stateless people would have served Gündoğdu’s analysis well. There are only about 12 million stateless people, the paradigmatic group with which her analysis is concerned. While this is 12 million people too many, it is also a far cry from 232 million people. While many migrants are de facto stateless, as Gündoğlu observes (p.4), many others continue to enjoy the legal protections of their natal states as well as of the states to which they move. Not all migrants are seen as “undeserving intruders” (p. 123): this is particularly so in the current round of globalization in which many high-status, highly-educated and wealthy people move easily across borders. Moreover, the book’s title suggests that Gündoğdu confines herself to migrants, but her analysis of the camps applies as much to those containing technically non-migrant, internally displaced people as to camps where migrants or refugees live.

Arendt may have used the philosophical term, “perplexity” to describe the plight of the naked human being without the protection of a state, but to a political scientist there is nothing perplexing about the contradiction between state sovereignty and human rights. The states that drafted the International Bill of Human Rights were anxious to maintain their sovereignty: just as anxious, if not more so, are the new states formed from ex-colonies since the end of the Second World War. Thus, while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims everyone’s right to seek asylum, no one has a right to asylum itself, as Gündoğdu notes: indeed, while everyone has the right to re-enter her own country, no one has the right to enter any other country. What commentators such as Gündoğdu call a crisis of statelessness (p. 35) is not a crisis for actual states, whose governors take for granted that they have no legal obligations to non-citizens who are not resident in their territories.

Nor will political scientists find Gündoğdu’s argument for basing human rights in human action—the “founding” of human rights—rather than in foundational philosophical principles particularly enlightening. That human rights are what human beings claim ought to be their rights is well known. Human rights are bound up in struggle, as Gündoğdu acknowledges.  Rights claims change, as do the rights that (some) states grant, as new social groups enter the rights discourse and new aspects of human dignity such as respect for sexual orientation and gender identity are made.

Despite these criticisms, this is a very interesting book well worth reading. While it will be of principal interest to political philosophers, especially those engaged with Arendt’s work, others will also benefit from Gündoğdu’s discussion of the entirety of Arendt’s thought and how it applies to migrants and camp-dwellers of all kinds. Gündoğdu is a brilliant analyst, whose thinking is informed throughout by great empathy and by the very compassion that she herself criticizes. 



Monday, 30 January 2017

Stop Appeasing Trump Now!


Stop Appeasing Trump Now!

All democrats everywhere, political leaders and ordinary citizens, must stop appeasing Donald Trump now.  They must condemn his racist policies as strongly as they can. They must stop pretending that he is a normal, democratically elected leader. They must stop being diplomatic.

When we think of appeasement, we think of Neville Chamberlain going to Munich in 1938 to sign an agreement with Adolf Hitler and returning to Britain, saying, “peace in our time.”

But the appeasement of Hitler started in 1933. Politicians and diplomats in the democratic Western world treated him like a normal political leader. They ignored his persecution of communists, socialists, trade unionists, liberals and Jews. Many people in Britain, the United States, and Canada even thought he had a point about communists and Jews.

It’s not sensible to make public policy decisions purely by analogy to past events. There’s also the old joke that the first person to invoke the name of Hitler in a political argument loses. But we can’t help thinking about Hitler now.

Since January 20 Trump has been decreeing arbitrary measures as if he has dictatorial powers.  At best, he is behaving like a mad king; at worst, he is what he seems to be, a racist and an Islamophobe.

People thought Hitler was mad too but that he could be controlled, and they were wrong. We can’t assume that Democrats will resume control of the Congress or Senate in 2018; we can’t assume Trump will be defeated in 2020; we can’t assume his successor in 2024 will be any more liberal than he is. We must join American democrats now to defeat Trump.

Premier Philippe Couillard of Quebec
Meantime here in Canada we see the effects of Islamophobic talk, as Premier Couillard of Quebec has pointed out. Words have meanings, words can hurt, and words can result in vicious actions such as the mass murder in a mosque on January 29 in Quebec City.

 The debate on “Quebec values” that the Parti Québecois unleashed in Quebec in 2013 legitimized prejudices against Muslims. In the guise of women’s rights and protection of a secular Quebec, the PQ suggested that Muslim citizens were less valuable than other citizens.  Even though the PQ was defeated in the election a year later, the damage was done. (see my article on the Quebec Values Debate posted on December 8, 2016).

When I think about Muslims today I think of my own family. My German grandparents escaped to Norway in 1938, from where they tried to enter the US. The American official in Oslo told them that my grandmother could enter as she was a Christian, but my grandfather could not as he was a Jew. Meantime one of my father’s Jewish cousins and her five-year-old daughter were denied entry into Canada: they died in the Holocaust.

I mention these personal stories because every Muslim and non-Muslim individual denied entrance to the US in the last few days has a personal story. So does every Muslim killed and wounded on January 29 in Quebec City. They all have names; they all have families; and many have suffered in ways that those of us who live in Canada will never experience. Instead of escaping from persecution, they now face more.

We must not appease those who would deny these Muslims their humanity. We must join with the Americans demonstrating in the streets and at airports. The US is a nation in danger of being taken over by fascists, if democrats world-wide appease the Trump dictatorship.

American pro-Muslim airport demonstration

Note:(January 30, 2017) this post has been accepted as an op-ed piece in the Hamilton (Canada) Spectator and should be appearing in the next few days.





Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien: Book Note

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien: Book Note
Edna O’Brien has written many novels about Irish girls and young women, most of which I’ve read over the years. This novel is very different, being very political. The reference in the title is to the 11,541 red chairs--including 643 chairs for children--set up in Sarajevo in 2012 to commemorate the siege of Sarajevo by Serbian forces during the ex-Yugoslavia wars.  2012 was the 20th anniversary of the siege.

 In Part I, a foreigner called Vladimir Dragan arrives in an improbably innocent Irish village, setting himself up as a “healer” and mesmerizing people with his charm, knowledge and exoticism. Fidelma, a beautiful 40-year-old who has endured two miscarriages, falls in love with him and begs him to impregnate her, which he does. Vlad is later exposed as a Serbian war criminal by the younger brother of one of his victims, who happens to be working in a nearby hotel. Vlad is arrested, while Fidelma is kidnapped and raped with a crowbar by his erstwhile enemies, killing her “Serbian” child.

In Part II, Fidelma goes to London, where she lives a poverty-stricken life that puts her in touch with refugees, rape victims, illegal immigrants, and various other people living an underground life. Along the way there are several set pieces in which individuals tell each other their stories of war, migration, poverty, homelessness, and misogyny. At one point Fidelma lives with an African woman who migrated to London after her husband took a second wife, and whose neighbor is a lonely little girl who is not in school because she and her father are illegal immigrants. Another woman Fidelma meets has come to London to protect her daughter from female genital mutilation.

Eventually Fidelma travels to The Hague, where Vlad is now on trial. After realizing he will never apologize to her or acknowledge his crimes, she returns to Ireland.

The character of Vlad is based on Radovan Karadzic, a psychiatrist who from 1992 to 1996 was President of Republika Skrypska, a Serbian enclave in Bosnia. After 1996 he hid in plain sight for many years within Yugoslavia, posing as an “alternative healer.” It’s thought that Serbian authorities knew where he was but protected him. He was eventually arrested and sent to the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. He was convicted on March 24, 2016 of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Vlad shows how psychologically complex mass murderers can be; he loves flowers and poetry and plays the gusle (a musical instrument that looks like a one-stringed violin). We know that many Nazis, including Nazi doctors, had similarly complex psyches, enjoying classical concerts played by Jewish prisoners after long days of mass murder. Edna O’Brien said in an interview that she found Karadzic’s “duality” as a mass murderer and a healer interesting: I just thought he was preying on vulnerable people with fake cures.

In discussion with fellow members of my book clubs, the question came up what the theme of The Little Red Chairs might have been. Perhaps it was evil. Vlad is evil’s embodiment, and Fidelma wonders if she was complicit in evil. She feels remorseful for having slept with Vlad, even though she did not know his true identity at the time. She does not tell ex-Yugoslavian refugees whom she meets in London about the rape and torture she herself endured, when they criticize her for her relationship with Vlad. When she visits him in The Hague, she expects Vlad to feel express remorse but instead he mocks her quest for “truth, justice, atonement.”

Another theme was women’s suffering, especially the suffering of the various women characters who endure miscarriage, still-born births, and various “natural” tragedies not connected to politics. In her autobiography, Country Girl, Edna O’Brien recounts her own suffering as a woman, which I describe in my blog of April 7, 2015: http://rhodahassmann.blogspot.ca/2015/04/book-note-country-girl-memoir-by-edna.html. This raises the questions of whether all women might be “sisters,” because all are vulnerable to such natural tragedies, but is this false sisterhood. Miscarriages and stillbirths, however sad, do not compare to rapes, torture, and warfare.

 I didn’t find this to be as fulfilling a novel as many other readers did. There were too many set pieces, seemingly inserted so that O’Brien could incorporate as many political themes as possible, so that the book seemed rather didactic. Too many characters are introduced but then don’t reappear. It seems as if O’Brien invented the character of Fidelma in order to tie together disparate political events and misogynist practices. In the end, O’Brien brings all her characters together for a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream. I looked up the plot summary of this play by William Shakespeare and found it very confusing, and I could not see any analogies to characters in this novel. 

Nevertheless, professors who read this blog might want to assign The Little Red Chairs to their students.  It is a good way to introduce students to scholarship on genocide, transitional justice, and women’s rights (or lack thereof).  I discussed these topics when I presented the book recently to one of my book clubs. In the past I’ve often used memoirs or novels to introduce students to various political events, and found that to be a successful teaching method.



Thursday, 8 December 2016

Minority vs. Group Rights in Quebec

Dear Readers:  Below is a paper that I wrote in spring 2016.  I got tired of waiting for formal review by an academic journal, so I decided to just post it on as many web sites as I could.  So this is a formal academic paper (almost 10,000 words) not a short blog post.  I own the copyright but you are free to post it or send it to others, as long s you acknowledge my authorship.  People who teach the politics of Quebec might find this a useful teaching tool.  If you would like a PDF of this paper for your own or your students' use, please contact me at hassmann@wlu.ca

Minority vs. Group Rights:  Manifestation of Religious Beliefs vs. “Quebec Values”
by Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann

Abstract: This paper investigates the debate in the province of Quebec, Canada in 2013 over a Charter of Quebec Values introduced by the separatist ruling party, the Parti Quebecois. It relies in particular on government documents, debates in Quebec’s National Assembly, and editorials in the French press. It relates the Charter to the preceding Bouchard-Taylor Commission Report in 2008 on accommodation by public bodies of particular religious requests. The debates concerned the right to manifest one’s religion, the rights of (particularly Muslim) women, and the rights of the collectivity as opposed to the minority. Part of the debate was about Quebec’s particular policy of interculturalism, as opposed to Canada’s policy of multiculturalism. The paper concludes with a discussion of liberalism, minority rights and collective rights.
Keywords: Quebec values, religious rights, women’s rights, collective rights, interculturalism, multiculturalism
Introduction
This article enters the debate about whether comprehensive liberal-democratic polities that protect human rights may sometimes limit the religious rights of some of their members in order to protect fundamental principles such as secularism and gender equality or to enhance the society’s collective identity.  In so doing, it points out that sometimes minority rights are incompatible with so-called “group” or collective rights. My particular example is the Charter of Values proposed in 2013 by the then government of Quebec, a French-speaking province of Canada. The Parti Québecois (PQ), which advocated separation from Canada and establishment of an independent Quebec state, was the governing party. The most contentious aspect of the Charter was a provision prohibiting public employees from wearing “ostentatious” religious symbols while at work.
The article is based on examination of the debate that took place in Quebec in late 2013, relying on official documents, parliamentary debates in the provincial National Assembly (NA), and a survey of editorials in several French newspapers. It focuses on the debate among French-speakers within Quebec, as public opinion among English-speakers in Quebec and in the rest of Canada was almost uniformly opposed to the Charter. Among the French-speaking intellectuals and journalists who wrote editorials, opinion was also mostly opposed to the Charter, although some editorialists offered limited support for it.
This analysis does not deal with political questions such as the relationship between the Charter and the PQ’s desire to separate from Canada, or whether the reason it proposed the Charter was actually to increase its vote among certain sectors of the population. Rather, the analysis focuses on apparent incompatibilities among different types of rights, how the PQ interpreted those incompatibilities, and how (predominantly French-speaking) elite opinion responded to its interpretations. This debate occurred in a democratic, rights-protective province within a democratic, rights-protective country. It was not the first such debate; many others had occurred in Quebec and the rest of Canada over such issues as prayer space for Muslim university students, Muslim parents’ rights to withdraw their children from family and sex education classes, family arbitration based on shari’a law, and publication of cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims (Bakht, Natasha 2004; Howard-Hassmann, Rhoda E.  and Reidel, Laura 2007). Both elite policy-makers and private citizens take these debates very seriously, trying to reconcile as best they can what they see as conflicts between religious and other human rights (Howard-Hassmann, Rhoda E. 2003, 114-33).
The theoretical question addressed in this article is whether, in order to preserve its own group identity, a dominant secular culture may both privilege some of its own customs and limit the customs of members of religious minorities, even if doing so violates the international human rights of some individuals. The right in question is protected by Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion: this right includes…freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance [my italics].” This debate also addresses the question of whether the equality of women and men takes precedence over the right to manifest one’s religion. Finally, it addresses the question of contradictions between (presumed) collective or group rights and minority rights.
In the Quebec debate over whether servants of the state should be permitted to manifest their religious beliefs via their dress, some argued that freedom of religion was paramount.  Others argued that freedom of religion ought to be subordinate to the equality rights of women to men, and/or that Quebec’s collective values took precedence over the right to manifest one’s religious beliefs when in the service of the state. Nor was this debate merely a local matter; it went to the core of the debate regarding whether Western countries with predominantly European-ancestry populations were to not only welcome but also integrate new types of immigrants, or whether by even such minor means as regulating dress they might make immigrants feel unwelcome and unaccepted.
Two Quebec Charters of Values
On September 10, 2013, the PQ released Bill 60, its controversial proposed “Charter of Quebec Values.” Pauline Marois was Premier of Quebec and leader of the PQ, while Bertrand Drainville was the Minister responsible for democratic institutions and citizen participation and formal introducer of the Charter. The Charter was a statement of certain values the PQ considered key to preserving Quebec’s character: these values were laicization [French: laicité], the secular neutrality of the state, and equality of women and men. As Premier Marois stated “In Quebec, equality of all citizens, equality between women and men, [and] separation of church and state, are fundamental values”*[1] (Government of Quebec 2013 November 7). These principles were also to underpin judgement of requests for religious accommodation within Quebec (Assemblee Nationale 2013, preambular par. 1). One exception was made, for symbols and place names that reflected Quebec’s cultural patrimony (Assemblee Nationale 2013, chapter 1, Article 1). In practice, this applied to the Catholic heritage of Quebec and permitted retention of crosses in public buildings and Christian saints’ names of cities or streets.
The Charter stated that anyone either providing or seeking government services was prohibited from covering her or his face, except when working conditions required it (Assemblee Nationale 2013, Chapter III, Articles 6 and 7); this provision was uncontroversial within Quebec. Another provision proved extremely controversial; namely, that no one providing a public service could wear any “ostentatious” [French: ostentatoire] religious clothing or jewelry while at work (Assemblee Nationale 2013, Chapter II, Section II,  article 5), such as hijabs (headscarves for female Muslims), turbans (for male Sikhs), and kippas (skullcaps for male Jews). Christians would also be prohibited from wearing large, conspicuous crosses. One minor exception was that public servants could wear inconspicuous religious symbols, such as small, discreet crosses for Christians and Stars of David for Jews (Drainville, Bernard 2013 September, 16). Government departments could require that any private contractors they hired also follow these rules (Assemblee Nationale 2013, Chapter 4, Article 10).
The prohibitions on the wearing of conspicuous religious clothing extended as far as workers in the provincial network of state-subsidized day-care centers (Drainville, Bernard 2013 September, 15). The government was particularly concerned that children’s religions not affect in any way their eligibility to enter nursery schools; that teachers not proselytize in any way; and that nurseries not provide any religious training to children. Children were especially to be educated to respect the religious neutrality of the state and the equality of women and men. Thus, even religiously-based diets, such as kosher (Jewish) or halal (Muslim) food, were forbidden. A major purpose of these rules was to facilitate social cohesion and integration of children into Quebec society regardless of their religious, social or ethnic origins (Assemblee Nationale 2013, Chapter VII, Articles 27-30, 43). Social cohesion and the necessity to “live together” [French: vivre ensemble] were underlying principles of the PQ’s approach to collective life in Quebec (Drainville, Bernard 2013 September, 5).
Bill 60 also offered rules for religious accommodation, such as granting days off for holy days or religious festivities. Decision-makers were to take into account several principles, including that the accommodation must respect the equality of men and women and that it must not compromise the separation of religion and state and the overall secular nature of the state (Assemblee Nationale 2013, Chapter 5, Articles 15, 2 and 15, 4). The government was particularly concerned that recent accommodations had undermined the principle of equality between women and men (Drainville, Bernard 2013 September, 13). Its view was that these accommodations had caused much acrimonious debate—indeed, that there had been a social crisis over reasonable accommodation-- and had sometimes undermined these two fundamental principles of Quebec society. It also argued that past religious accommodations had emphasized differences among citizens instead of uniting them (Drainville, Bernard 2013 September, 3, 8).
On April 7, 2014 the PQ was defeated in a provincial election by the Liberal Party. The proposed Charter thus was no longer under debate. However, in 2015 the Liberals proposed their own substitute Bill 62, which was still under discussion as of November 2016. Its stated purposes were only two; to preserve the state’s religious neutrality and to establish procedures for religious accommodation (National Assembly 2015, Chapter I, Article 1). Like Bill 60, it exempted some place names and symbolic features of Quebec from religious neutrality on the grounds that they reflected Quebec’s cultural heritage (National Assembly 2015, Chapter IV, Article 13). Like Bill 60, it also focused on equality of men and women. 
Bill 62 removed some of the more controversial aspects of Bill 60. Public servants were no longer prohibited from wearing religious clothing and symbols. The requirement that people providing and seeking public services not cover their faces was retained (National Assembly 2015, Chapter III, Division II, Article 9). Like Bill 60, Bill 62 also stressed the necessity for education to facilitate integration of all children into Quebec society and to foster social cohesion. Unlike Bill 60, however, Bill 62 specifically protected halal and kosher kitchens (National Assembly 2015, Chapter V, Article 16 ). There was still some public discussion about the requirement that people seeking public services should not cover their faces (Montreal Gazette Editorial Board 2015 June 10), but in general there was much less opposition than to Bill 60.  
The Bouchard-Taylor Commission
Bills 60 and 62 were both in part a reaction to an earlier debate within Quebec on the limits to religious accommodation that culminated in the 2008 Bouchard-Taylor Commission (BTC) report, Building the Future: A Time for Reconciliation (Bouchard, Gerard and Taylor, Charles 2008). The commissioners were the French-speaking historian and sociologist, Gérard Bouchard, and the eminent English-speaking philosopher and resident of Montreal, Charles Taylor.
The BTC was set up by the then Liberal government of Quebec after a series of public debates about various judicial or other decisions whose function was to adjudicate requests for accommodation by members of religious minorities: these requests emanated not only from Muslims but also from Jews, Sikhs and others. Much public opposition to these demands was stoked by media reports. One case garnering attention concerned a male Sikh student who wished to wear a kirpan, a ceremonial dagger, in school. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that he could wear the kirpan if it were carefully and fully encased in a protective cloth covering, which would make it difficult for him to use it as a weapon (Legault-Laberge, Raphael Mathieu and Rousseau, Guillaume 2012, 206-7). There was much protest in Quebec against the Court’s judgement, which many saw as interference in Quebec affairs by the “foreign” Canadian judiciary. Another case concerned Muslims inaccurately alleged to have demanded that everyone at a festival celebrating maple syrup season be required to abstain from alcohol. In yet another case, officials at a yeshiva, a school for religious Jewish boys, allegedly asked that a gym across the street frost its windows so that the boys could not see women in gym clothes (Bouchard, Gerard and Taylor, Charles 2008, 53). The facts in most of these cases were mis-reported.
After listening to the concerns that many Quebeckers had about requests for religious  accommodation  Bouchard and Taylor recommended that Quebec adopt a policy of “open secularism” (Bouchard, Gerard and Taylor, Charles 2008, 20). Under this policy, the state and its servants would be neutral, but the latter would not be required to demonstrate their neutrality by discarding their religiously-prescribed clothing. Bouchard and Taylor contrasted this with “rigid secularism,” such as they argued was imposed by France’s ban on the wearing of the hijab in schools. Bouchard and Taylor argued that religious accommodation would facilitate integration and social cohesion, rather than excluding those who chose to wear religious symbols from public schools and the public service. They asked “Does not a more rigid secularism risk…fostering community withdrawal rather than integration?” (Bouchard, Gerard and Taylor, Charles 2008, 150).
Bouchard and Taylor did, however, recommend that certain officials of the Quebec government holding coercive power not be permitted to wear any religious symbols that might suggest to those under their control that they might hold religious biases; these officials included among other judges, Crown prosecutors, and police. They argued that religious symbols such as the Crucifix hanging in the NA and the prayers that opened meetings of municipal officials should be abolished, as these symbols implied that Catholicism was Quebec’s state religion. They also recommended certain principles to which accommodation practices should conform. Accommodations should not violate gender equality; thus, for example, requests for separate swimming classes for girls and boys in Quebec schools, or boys’ refusal to have women teachers were not granted. Bouchard and Taylor noted that in general, accommodations should not cause undue hardship, infringe on other people’s human rights, or undermine safety and public order (Bouchard, Gerard and Taylor, Charles 2008, 150, 20, 85, 63).
Public reaction to the BTC Report suggested that many people were still somewhat uncomfortable with immigrants and the adjustments that Quebec society might have to make to their presence. 40 per cent of Quebeckers polled between May 28 and June 1 2008 believed that Quebec society was endangered by the arrival of non-Christian immigrants, while 51 per cent thought that immigrants should abandon their traditions and customs to become more like the majority of Quebeckers. Sixty-seven per cent opposed moving the crucifix in the NA, and the same percentage opposed permitting female Muslim teachers to wear the hijab in public schools. Fifty-nine per cent thought that crucifixes should be permitted in public school classrooms, while ninety-two per cent thought that Jews and Muslims should better understand the majority’s culture (Jedwab, Jack 2008 June 11). This negative reaction to the Report’s general recommendations for changes to accommodate minority groups may have contributed to the PQ’s decision to try to enact Bill 60. The PQ considered the BTC Report to be a document proposing political correctness, instead of a response to the  concerns of the general population about reasonable accommodation (McAndrew, Marie 2009 June 2, 13).
The Rights Debates
Religious Rights
The prohibition of the wearing of religious symbols or religiously-required clothing while in the service of the state was the subject of much heated debate in the NA in the autumn of 2013. The Liberals were the chief opposition party to the PQ, with the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ: Coalition for the Future of Quebec) the second opposition group.
All three political parties agreed on the principle of gender equality and on the necessity for state neutrality in the provision of public services to Quebeckers. All also agreed that neither public servants (while at work) nor those seeking public services should cover their faces. The debate focused on whether state neutrality required that public servants not demonstrate their own religious beliefs through their dress or accessories. The PQ considered this to be a violation of state neutrality; neutrality, it argued, should be visible to citizens, not merely invisible or abstract (Assemblee Nationale 2013 November 7, 5456). It considered the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols to be, in and of itself, evidence of a passive or silent proselytism (Drainville, Bernard 2013 September, 16). The Liberals and CAQ argued that the wearing of religious symbols did not imply proselytism, which they agreed was unacceptable (Assemblee Nationale 2013 October 23, 5108, statement by Marc Tanguay).
In effect, the PQ advocated what the BTC called rigid secularism, while the Liberals and the CAQ advocated open secularism. The Liberals referred specifically to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, Article 3 (Government of Quebec 1975), as well as to a 1985 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that freedom of religion included the right to openly profess one’s religious beliefs without fear of reprisals (Assemblee Nationale 2013 October 23, 5109, statement by Marc Tanguay), Thus, those who objected to the Charter argued that it did not advance separation of church and state; rather, it discriminated against minority religious groups. However, the CAQ did agree with the BTC recommendation that people in positions of authority should not wear religious symbols (Assemblee Nationale 2013 November 6, 5395, statement by Francois Legault).
The problem was further complicated by the government’s proclamation that the Crucifix would remain hanging in the NA; thousands of other crucifixes already hanging in public buildings would also remain there. The government argued that these were important symbols of Quebec’s “patrimony” [French: patrimoine] or heritage, without defining clearly of what this heritage consisted (Bouchard, Gerard 2013 September 10). This raised the question of whether Muslims, Sikhs, and Jews – or indeed English-speaking Protestants --who lived in Quebec contributed to its heritage. As one commentator put it, it seemed that secularism was for “the others*” (Dubuc, Alain 2013 September 11).
In any event, critics also noted, the “heritage” nature of the NA Crucifix actually was symbolic of the premiership of Maurice Duplessis from 1936 to 1939 and again from 1944 to 1959 (Bottari, Jean 2013 September 11). Duplessis was a dictatorial and corrupt premier famous for his persecution of communists and Jehovah’s Witnesses (Berger, Thomas R. 1982, 127-89), whose long period of rule was known in Quebec as “the great Darkness” (Clement, Dominique 2016, 49). Critics argued that retention of the Crucifix in the NA and other public buildings was hypocritical, given that all other religious symbols were to be banned, suggesting that this was pure opportunism on the part of the government, if not a sign of Islamophobia (Sciortino, Giuseppe 2013 September 14).
The Quebec Commission on Human Rights and the Rights of the Young (QCHR) strongly criticized Bill 60. Relying not only on the UDHR but also on the province’s own 1975 Charter of Human Rights, it argued that everyone had the right to manifest her religion, including via dress, and that such manifestation did not constitute proselytism. While the state had to demonstrate its religious neutrality, its individual employees did not have the same obligation. Moreover, the QCHR argued, there was no evidence that anyone wearing religious dress had ever undermined state religious neutrality; the PQ was relying solely on hypothetical situations. On the other hand, the QCHR noted, prayers in municipal meetings—which the PQ was willing to tolerate—did violate the principle of state neutrality. The QCHR concluded that Bill 60 would constitute the most radical modification of Quebec’s own provincial charter of human rights since its adoption (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse Quebec 2013 October 16, 10-11,  8, 20).
Women’s Rights
Perhaps one could argue that denial to some Muslim women and girls of the right to wear hijab as public officials, or while seeking or enjoying government services including in schools or hospitals, was justifiable in order to retain Quebec’s collective secular, post-Catholic culture. According to the PQ, the equality of women with men was a paramount collective value in Quebec, superior to religious customs that might imply discrimination against women or their relegation to a secondary status. This raised the question of whether Muslim women freely adopted hijab or whether they were compelled to do so by male family members. The Liberal’s Bill 62 side-stepped this debate: it did not prevent public servants or those seeking or enjoying public services from wearing religious symbols, merely stating that public servants should not discriminate in favor of or against anyone on the basis of her or his religion.
In the NA debate on Bill 60, both opposition parties argued that if equality of men and women was a fundamental principle of Quebec society, then it was discriminatory to refuse the opportunity of employment by the state to women who chose to wear religious symbols (Assemblee Nationale 2013 November 7, 5455, statement by Jean-Marc Fournier). In a province of eight million people, 600,000 jobs, 20 per cent of all those in the province (Bouchard, Gerard 2015, 127) were covered by the PQ’s Charter (Assemblee Nationale 2013 October 23, 5109, statement by Marc Tanguay). The QCHR agreed that in so far as it would apply mainly to (some) Muslim women, prohibition of the wearing of religious symbols would undermine women’s equal right to work; women, it argued, should not have to choose between their employment and their religion (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse Quebec 2013 October 16, 10).
Aside from the different views of the political parties, an intra-feminist debate also occurred within Quebec, some feminists arguing for complete secularism as a means to protect women’s equality and others arguing that women who enjoyed equality should be permitted to make autonomous individual decisions about whether to wear hijab. Janette Bertrand, a writer, published an editorial co-signed by 20 other women, among whom (according to their names and biographical descriptions) five seemed to have Muslim backgrounds or come from Muslim-majority countries. She argued, “Right now, it seems to me that the principle of equality between the sexes is being compromised in the name of freedom of religion…I would like you to remember that men have always, and even now, used religion for the purpose of dominating women, putting them in their place, that is, beneath them [men]”*(Bertrand, Janette 2013 October 15). A group of women calling themselves the Janettes agreed with Bertrand. Nadia Alexan, a retired professor of Egyptian origin, argued that the spread of politicized Salafist Islam from Saudi Arabia was undermining the gains that had been made by Muslim women. Calling the veil (hijab) a “symbol of submission to the patriarchy,*” she argued that to wear the veil was indeed to proselytize, to promote “the barbarism of excision…of forced marriage of nine-year-old girls, of stoning, of polygamy, of fatwas, [and] interdiction of freedom of expression*” (Alexan, Nadia 2013 October 5). Another Janette argued that while some women wore hijab voluntarily, they had nevertheless been inculcated since birth to believe that the sexes were unequal; it was important for the state, therefore, to send a message to these women that it was legitimate to remove religious signs that symbolized unequal relations between males and females (Lortie, Marie-Claude 2013 October 16).
On the other side of this debate, the Quebec branch of Amnesty International argued that if women were being coerced into wearing religious garb, then the persons coercing them should be punished, not the women themselves. Furthermore, the ban on religious garb would undermine some minority women’s right to employment, risking further social stigmatization and isolation (Amnesty International Canada 2013 September 20). Three female religious leaders, one Christian, one Muslim, and one Jewish, used the 1960s slogan of women’s right to control their own body, arguing that this gave Muslim women the right to decide whether to wear hijab just as it gave non-Muslim women the right to decide to wear mini-skirts (Rollert, Diane, Ashraf, Shaheen et al. 2013 November 7).  The state, such critics argued, should not take a paternalist position, trying to emancipate women by prohibiting conspicuous religious head-coverings (Chambers, Gretta and others, 21 2013 October 16). Others argued that if the government were really interested in promoting the status of women, it would invest more in day care centers and other pro-family social services (Breton, Brigitte 2013 October 19).
Quebec has a fairly recent history of extricating itself from social domination by the Catholic Church. Following the Great Darkness, the 1960s were the period of the “Quiet Revolution,” when many institutions such as schools and hospitals that the Church had controlled were secularized. The 1960s was also the decade that saw the rise of feminism among Quebec women. In 2013, many older Quebec women still remembered the Catholic norms that had stifled their and their elders’ lives. Prohibitions on birth control and abortion had condemned millions of women to multiple pregnancies, often endangering their health as well as undermining personal autonomy. Some of these older women viewed the Charter of Values as a means to defend women from the stifling effects of other religions, especially Islam (Petrowski, Natalie 2013 October 16).
Opponents of the Charter argued that there were already laws in Canada to protect Muslim and other women from coercive pressures to wear religiously-mandated garb. The BTC had earlier warned Quebeckers not to extrapolate from the Catholic Church’s treatment of women to the treatment of women under Islam or Orthodox Judaism. It was for those women to emancipate themselves, should they so wish, rather than for the state to liberate them. Muslim girls wearing hijab, Bouchard and Taylor argued, should not be prevented from attending secular public schools, the very purpose of which was to integrate everyone into the wider society. Nor should Muslim women teachers be required to demonstrate support of educational neutrality by discarding their hijabs. However, Bouchard and Taylor did think it reasonable that Muslim women teachers not wear full-body burkas or face-covering niqabs, which would impede communication between teacher and students (Bouchard, Gerard and Taylor, Charles 2008, 150). As noted above, there was little or no controversy in Quebec over this provision.
The debate in Quebec was part of a wider international debate among both Muslim and non-Muslim feminists about whether Muslim women wearing hijab were acquiescing to patriarchal religious norms or whether they were adopting religious dress of their own free will (Hirschman, Nancy 1997). Many Muslim women living in Western liberal states such as Canada and France freely adopted religious dress as an affirmation of identity against the wider secular society (Freedman, Jane 2004, 8) (Barbieri, William 1999) (Hoodfar, Homa 1993, 15). Another aspect of the debate was whether, if Muslim women were acquiescing to patriarchal religious norms, it was the obligation of the wider secular society to liberate them from those norms, assuming that the law already protected them from physical coercion. In general, the debate was about “what, if anything, was appropriate public policy for women who seemed to voluntarily subordinate themselves to men” (Howard-Hassmann, Rhoda E. 2011, 441).
 Minority vs. Collective Rights
The debate on the Charter of Values also raised the question of minority versus collective rights. Premier Marois and Minister Drainville both argued that the collectivity—the Quebec people— had rights that could over-ride minority rights in some instances. This explained why the PQ did not take the BTC’s advice to remove the Crucifix from the NA or to prohibit Christian prayers at municipal meetings. The PQ argued that Quebeckers had the right to preserve their collective national heritage. Catholicism was a significant part of that heritage, despite Quebec’s rejection of the formal power of the Catholic Church after the Quiet Revolution, and despite the historic and contemporary existence in Quebec of non-Catholic religious minorities who, the PQ agreed, also constituted part of the Quebec collectivity. In the PQ’s view, the values it sought to protect were integral to Quebec’s identity, and it was the state’s duty to reflect and protect the values of the society as a whole. Prohibition of civil servants’ wearing of religious symbols was necessary to preserve the secular, post-Catholic collective character of Quebec society, and was a relatively minor violation of freedom of religion, if indeed it constituted such a violation at all.
The PQ also invoked the right of the community to a certain level of social integration or cohesion which, it argued, would be furthered by the prohibition on civil servants’ manifesting  their religious affiliations in the workplace. “The charter of values,” asserted Minister Drainville, “will be a source of harmony and cohesion for Quebec,*” (Government of Quebec 2013 November 7). Results of a poll conducted in Quebec in September 2013 showed that 72 per cent of those who spoke French at home strongly agreed that Quebec culture needed protection, as opposed to only 13 per cent of non-French-speakers. Among French-speakers, 55 per cent strongly agreed that minorities should do more to fit in, while only 25 per cent of others strongly agreed (Angus Reid Global 2013 September 12, 11, 12).
There was some evidence of a split in opinion between the still relatively-homogeneous “regions” where “old-stock” Quebeckers of French Catholic heritage predominated and there were few immigrants, and the more cosmopolitan cities of Montreal and Quebec City where many minorities and immigrants lived. The split was not severe, however: 73 per cent of respondents to the September 2013 poll who lived outside Montreal and Quebec City supported the prohibitions on public servants’ wearing religious symbols at work, while 69 per cent of respondents living in Quebec City and 63 per cent of respondents living in Montreal also supported it. More obvious was the split between those whose language at home was French and others: 75 per cent of French speakers supported the ban, while only 31 per cent of others did. Age and level of education also influenced the level of support: older and less educated people were more likely to support the ban (Angus Reid Global 2013 September 12, 6).
Many critics of the Charter assumed that anyone who defended it was afraid of “the other;” that is, of residents of Quebec not descended from the original French Catholic settlers. In this interpretation, the PQ’s insistence on protecting Quebec “values” would spur ethnic nationalism among those Quebeckers who were already disturbed by the presence within their society of identifiable minorities never before seen in such large numbers. The Charter appeared to be directed primarily against Montreal (Cardinal, Francois 2013 August 31) and to reflect a fear of cosmopolitanism in Quebec’s more homogeneous regions (Simard, Marc 2013 September 4). This fear was all the more intense because such a high proportion of recent immigrants to Quebec—around 40%--were Muslim (McAndrew, Marie 2009 June 2, 6).
The Quebec Community Groups Network, representing 41 community groups and one million English-speaking Quebeckers, was completely opposed to Bill 60, claiming that it was “yet another attempt by the Parti Québecois government to limit individual rights and freedoms in the interests of a state-defined collective identity.” The Network noted particularly that Muslims comprised six per cent of English-speakers in Quebec as opposed to only 2.6 per cent of French-speakers (Quebec Community Groups Network 2013 November 7). It accused the government of instituting a “we-them mentality,” and especially of pitting “Catholics against non-Christians” (Quebec Community Groups Network 2013 December 20, 7).
The Charter’s opponents believed that the government was claiming that there was a social problem in Quebec when there was none (Bouchard, Gerard 2013 September 10). They asked whether a government should proclaim the “values” of its entire population, as opposed to merely enforcing and legislating laws, including human rights laws (Gagnon, Lysiane 2013 September 7). The QCHR questioned the PQ’s assertion of values over human rights, arguing that the latter ought to have precedence and that a right could not be limited solely because its exercise might offend someone else, or even the majority (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse Quebec 2013 October 16, 4, 9). The eminent human rights lawyer, Julius Grey, argued, “legislative definition of some values as more fundamental than others is a very dangerous exercise…. In what way are these two values [secularism and equality between men and women] more important than freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, or even racial equality?*” (Grey, Julius 2013 November 2).
Living together was one of the PQ’s themes in arguing for the ban on wearing religious symbols (Assemblee Nationale 2013 November 6, 5397). As Minister Drainville said, “We should never lose sight of the collective dimension…We must find our common values, identify that which brings us together, that which unites us so that we are a community, so that we are a society, so that we are a nation. …And that, the cement that unites us, that makes us a people, goes beyond our individual differences, especially religious*” (Assemblee Nationale 2013 October 23, 5112).  It was important for citizens to recognize themselves as members of the Quebec community, as Andre Villeneuve, a member of the PQ, argued: “It’s always a question of equilibrium…There’s an equilibrium to be made between individual rights and there’s an equilibrium to be made with collective rights. And in creating this place where people can recognize themselves, and all Quebeckers can recognize themselves…[we will] reinforce people’s individual rights*” (Assemblee Nationale 2013 October 23, 5121).
Opposing this position, Jean-Marc Fournier of the Liberal Party accused the PQ of actually removing some human rights in the name of living together. “The clothing code removes fundamental rights from Quebeckers. With this code the government wants to impose a new model of society that directly forms a rupture with what we’ve known until now. Under the pretext of better living together better, certain people are advised not to come and live with others. The Liberal Party of Quebec has never thought that to protect rights, one must remove rights *” (Assemblee Nationale 2013 November 7, 5454 ). Moreover, as one commentator argued, it would be impossible to “live well together” under a charter that closed the doors to employment in many public agencies to those wearing religious symbols (Breton, Brigitte 2013 August 31). It was estimated that 30 per cent of Quebeckers of North African origin (presumably mostly Muslim) were unemployed, among whom the rate of unemployment was higher for women than men (Kerboua, Nadia 2013 September 14).  In general, Muslims in Quebec were less likely to be employed and had lower incomes than Muslims elsewhere in Canada, who in turn were less likely to be employed and had lower incomes than other minority religious groups (Kazemipur, Abdolmohammad 2014, 112-142).
From the point of view of the Charter’s opponents, to live well together was to acknowledge the importance of fundamental human rights documents such as the English Magna Carta of 1215, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, and the many international documents that protected human rights in both Canada and Quebec (Paquet, Georges 2013 October 19). These universal values included equality between men and women (Deri, Thomas 2013 September 21), part of a universal, not merely a Quebec, heritage. To call these “Quebec” values, one commentator argued, was “an abusive appropriation of a universal heritage which we share with our Canadian compatriots and the vast majority of citizens of liberal democracies*”(Jacques, Daniel D. 2013 October 23).  But many Quebeckers objected to any references to Canadian policies as guides to the policies that their provincial government should adopt, as the next section shows. 
Multiculturalism and Interculturalism
Some Quebeckers supported the Charter of Values as a reflection of a republican, rather than a liberal, model of government. The latter, they thought, characterized the rest of Canada with its philosophy of multiculturalism.
Guillaume Rousseau, a law professor from the Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec, defended the PQ’s policy of laicité, arguing that it reflected the French republican tradition in which the state gives citizens the opportunity to free themselves from their various ethnic or religious communities. The Charter would help individual Quebeckers free themselves from religious and ethnic practices which they believed were oppressive or with which they disagreed. The liberal tradition as found in English Canada, Rousseau maintained, was based on freedom from the state, rather than freedom through the state, the republican way. In this, he agreed with the PQ’s view that it was important for Quebec society to free itself from the last vestiges of religious control of its institutions. Overall, Rousseau maintained, cultural convergence was the best option for Quebec, promoting “a French culture that evolves constantly, notably with inputs from immigrants’ cultures of origin that are compatible with the fundamentals of French Quebec culture” (Rousseau, Guillaume 2014 March 14, 7).
By contrast, as noted above, Bouchard and Taylor had argued that the republican tradition represented what they called “rigid secularism.” They supported laicization, which they defined as “the process by which the State asserts its independence in relation to religion,” but viewed secularization as “the erosion of religion’s influence in social mores and the conduct of individual life” (Bouchard, Gerard and Taylor, Charles 2008, 135). They saw no need for the state to emancipate its citizens from religion. To do so, they argued,  privileged agnostic and atheist citizens over religious citizens, or presumed that non-religious rationalism was a higher value than those rooted in religious tradition (Bouchard, Gerard and Taylor, Charles 2008, 137-138). The liberal tradition, Bouchard and Taylor argued, permitted citizens to endorse fundamental principles of morality stemming just as much from religious as from non-religious principles. Thus, it was not the duty of a liberal state to emancipate women from the constraints of their religions. Women should not be forced against their will to adopt the values of equality and autonomy consistent with the national framework of human rights, if they preferred to accept all or some of the strictures of their religion.
For many who favored the republican tradition, the Quebec policy of “interculturalism” was superior to the Canadian policy of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism appeared to imply a kind of silo effect, or even ghettoization, in which different cultures existed side-by-side without interaction or integration (Duval, Xavier Barsalou 2013 October 1). It appeared, especially, to privilege minorities’ freedom of religion over the collective rights of the majority, thus “far from rendering citizens equal, [it] has given some [citizens] permission to be more equal than others*” (Morgan, Caroline 2013 September 25).  As a former PQ premier of Quebec, Bernard Landry, argued “when you change your country, you change your country….Quebec is not and should not be multicultural. Multiculturalism is a perverse doctrine that Ottawa has rudely imposed on us.*”(Landry, Bernard 2013 November 3)
By contrast to multiculturalism, Quebec’s model was one of cultural convergence (McAndrew, Marie 2016 forthcoming, 8 (ms)). According to the PQ, Quebec was multiethnic but was not and should not become multicultural. It was imperative to integrate Quebec’s various ethnic and religious minorities into a cohesive, French-speaking culture, respecting both individual rights and the collective values of Quebec (Drainville, Bernard 2013 September, 10). Quebec was defined as “a nation with a French character, where French culture represents a focus of convergence for minority cultures, but where the legitimacy of these cultures is confirmed.” Immigrants were expected to respect several common principles including equality between women and men, a secular state, pluralism and democratic values (Labelle, Micheline 2006, last edited July 2 2015, 4). “In a pluralist society,” argued one professor of philosophy, “the affirmation of common values is essential to affirm collective identity, assure cohesion and solidarity among its members, and provide benchmarks to guide the collectivity’s choice, now and in the future… Our common values can be at the same time universal and Québecois*” (Lapierre, Marilyse 2013 August 28).
This concern with creation of a collectivity reflected the fragility of French-speaking Quebeckers’ identity in an English-speaking continent. Until the Quiet Revolution, English-speakers had dominated Quebec’s economy and French-speakers were often obliged to speak English at work. Only with the introduction of Bill 101 in 1977, mandating that the children of immigrants to the province from outside Canada attend French schools, did it appear that the language would be saved from extinction. Thus, invocation of only universal values—reflecting a liberal, and predominantly English-speaking, Western tradition—was seen as insufficient to ensure the coherence of the Quebec community. Many Quebeckers also thought that multiculturalism was meant to subsume French-speakers as just another minority within Canada, rather than recognizing Quebec’s distinct historical status (Kymlicka, Will 1995, 17) (Waddington, David I., Maxwell, Bruce et al. 2012, 3 (ms)).
The common perception in Quebec that Canadian-style multiculturalism produces various cultures living in silos separate from one another is far from what actually exists. Although Canada’s 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects multiculturalism (Government of Canada 1982, Article 27), and Canada also has an official multiculturalism policy (Government of Canada 1985), Canadian “multi”-culturalism is underpinned by a unifying small-l liberal culture (Howard-Hassmann, Rhoda E. 1999, 532) (Kymlicka, Will 2007). Under this liberal multicultural tradition, a multiplicity of religions is accepted, as is the wearing of religious symbols. Far from believing that governments ought to help citizens to free themselves from their religious or ethnic affiliation, as in the republican tradition, the liberal tradition acknowledges that there can be advantages to membership in religious and ethnic groups; in that sense, it encourages religious and cultural diversity. Many individuals feel a need to belong to groups of people with similar beliefs, customs, or languages. Muslims in the rest of Canada, like those in Quebec, benefit from this small-l liberal culture.
Nevertheless, actual practice all over Canada, in Quebec and elsewhere, more closely resembles what the BTC called interculturalism than official multiculturalism. Interculturalism was an evolving policy in Quebec, not clearly defined, but which Bouchard and Taylor believed the Quebec government should specify, themselves defining interculturalism as follows:
[I]nterculturalism seeks to reconcile enthnocultural diversity with the continuity of the French-speaking core and the preservation of the social link. It thus affords security to Quebeckers of French-Canadian origin and to ethnocultural minorities and protects the rights of all in keeping with the liberal tradition…[It] proposes a way of promoting ethnocultural relations characterized by interaction in a spirit of respect for differences (Bouchard, Gerard and Taylor, Charles 2008, 19, 118).
Put simply, interculturalism means voluntary, un-coerced integration of immigrants into the dominant culture: it is voluntary assimilation. Many, if not most, immigrants in Quebec and Canada assimilate in this fashion. Such assimilation is a natural social process during which migrants and their children increasingly adopt the customs and social mores of the larger society in which they live. In contemporary society, individuals have many identities. Religious symbols are one means of showing one’s belonging to particular groups or communities, thus “an affirmation …of the rapport they have established with others*,” but they are certainly not the only means, and do not preclude identification on other grounds with other, non-religious groups (Genest, Serge 2013 September 11). Nevertheless, some in Quebec believed that there was a moral onus on immigrants to integrate into the larger society (Iacovino, Raffaele 2015, 46), while in the rest of Canada such integration was merely a matter of choice.
Liberalism, Minority Rights and Collective Rights
It might seem that the debate over Quebec’s Charter of Values was a straightforward one posing ethnic against civic nationalism; many supporters of the Charter were indeed ethnic nationalists (McAndrew, Marie 2016 forthcoming, 14 (ms)). Perhaps the PQ, or some of its supporters, could not accept that relative “strangers” in their society were actually members of the Quebec nation. Perhaps, indeed, the PQ was playing to a “nationalism of resentment*” among some French-speaking Quebeckers who were fearful of the new minorities in their midst (Seymour, Michel 2013 August 28). Thus, the Charter of values was an important part of the PQ’s attempt to forge Quebec’s distinct collective identity as opposed to its perceived status as an “unrecognized minority nation” within Canada (Iacovino, Raffaele 2015, 41).On the other hand, perhaps the PQ also wanted to strengthen minority groups’ membership in Quebec society by providing them with the tools to enter the secular world of freedom of choice in matters both of religion and gendered behavior.
            By contrast to the PQ’s willingness to undermine the human right to manifest one’s religion as a concession to Quebec’s dominant culture, Bouchard and Taylor argued that “In order to recognize the equal value of all citizens, the State must be able, in principle, to justify to each citizen each of the decisions that it makes, which it cannot do if it favours a specific conception of the world and of good” (Bouchard, Gerard and Taylor, Charles 2008, 136). But the PQ did favor a specific conception of the good, in which freedom of religious expression was to give way to the state’s requirement for rigid secularism and equality of women with men.
Even so, Bouchard and Taylor themselves recommended some minor limitations on manifestation of religious beliefs. They recommended that citizens providing or seeking government services do so with uncovered faces, thus constraining the freedom to manifest their religion of the very few Muslim women in Quebec who wore the niqab or burqa. This recommendation was supported by widespread public opinion, even among those who otherwise opposed the PQ Charter of Values. As noted above, Bouchard and Taylor also recommended that individuals who occupied positions in which they exercised coercive power over other citizens should not wear any religious symbols whatsoever, so as to provide an image of complete neutrality. Some would argue that these constraints were permissible. On the other hand, if the requirement not to wear any religious symbols were also extended to members of juries, as Bouchard later suggested (Bouchard, Gerard 2015, 123), it might be considered a major prohibition on the right to manifest one’s religion and one which might not withstand the scrutiny of the law.
Several years after writing the BTC Report, Bouchard modified his views on religious accommodation, arguing that the majority culture in Quebec ought to have collective rights; “a society,” he argued, “does not have to repudiate its history in the name of pluralism.” One right was to a common patrimony, which would contribute to creation of a collective memory and sense of belonging, incorporating not only French-speaking Canadians of European Catholic heritage but also other groups in Quebec. Bouchard proposed that certain religious symbols such as non-religious Christmas decorations and the cross on the Quebec flag had by 2015 entered “the broader sphere of civic life,” and should remain as symbols of the wider Quebec culture. He also favored “cultural interventionism,” which would permit the state to devote resources to protection of Quebec’s founding French Catholic culture by, for example, devoting funds to maintenance of Catholic churches. Thus, he conceded that there was some value to collective cultural rights, as the PQ had advocated. He did not agree with the PQ, however, that retention of the Crucifix in the NA or retention of Christian prayers in municipal meetings were appropriate manifestations of Quebec’s cultural heritage, as they were too explicitly tied to Roman Catholicism (Bouchard, Gerard 2015, 107-12, 131-133).
Despite the claim that Quebec’s republicanism differed radically from Canadian liberalism, Quebec was a predominantly liberal society, with liberal, individualist values inscribed in its own provincial charter of rights. The debate within Quebec was about how far liberalism should go. Should agents of the state show by their apparel, and only in so far as they were representing that state, that they were adherents of particular religions? Would such apparel undermine others’ perception of the state as religiously neutral? Would it, moreover, undermine the perception that the state supported absolute gender equality?
The PQ argued that religious apparel would indeed undermine both the neutrality of the state and gender equality. By contrast, the successor Liberal government did not worry that religious dress would undermine these two principles. It saw no need for the restrictions that the PQ wished to impose on some members of some minority religious groups, except for the provision that people providing or seeking government services should not cover their faces. There was no incompatibility between the rights of members of minority religions and the rights of the collective; both could be accommodated. In the Liberal’s view, the right to manifest one’s religion through the wearing of religious signs was compatible with all other human rights, in particular the right to employment, especially for Muslim women.
 At the same time, both the PQ and the Liberal governments agreed that the collective group, Quebeckers, had the right to enjoy its own culture. Just as the wearing of religious symbols was not necessarily a sign of proselytism, so retention of Catholic symbols as a form of cultural heritage did not mean that the government of Québec considered those of French Catholic heritage to be superior citizens. Nor did it imply discrimination against minority groups with different heritages. In societies in which the state respects the private cultural and religious identities of its citizens, secularism does not mean that all references to religion must be removed from the public sphere. Rather, it means that official proselytism—either by individual citizens in their capacity as employees of the state or by the state itself—is forbidden, as is official discrimination against any religion. The state is not permitted to constrain the freedom of religion of citizens who are members of a minority when those constraints serve no human rights purpose, merely serving to suggest to minority citizens that they are not as worthy of the state’s concern and respect as members of the majority collective.    
This is a question of enormous international importance, if a relatively minor one in Canada.  Assuming that the wearing of hijab does indeed reflect Muslim women’s subordination to men, how far should a liberal regime go to protect non-liberal values and ideas? The competing answers to these questions can and do affect the national security of liberal states, as seen in recent years not only in France and Belgium but also in Canada itself. In 2014, two young men who described themselves as converts to Islam committed two murders in two separate shootings. In one case, the attacker managed to enter the Parliament building in Ottawa and came dangerously close to shooting many members of Parliament, including the Prime Minister, before he himself was killed. Moreover, there were several reports of young Quebeckers having been radicalized and having travelled to the Middle East to fight for various Islamist groups.
Perhaps there is a long-term threat to the very existence of liberalism if it protects minorities that appear to reject its fundamental precepts. This may have been part of the PQ’s reasoning in prohibiting in the public service apparel that identified the wearer’s religion. Perhaps neither religion nor culture is a mere private matter, easily tolerated within a liberal framework. In some circumstances, it seems—or in some individuals’ belief systems—religion and/or culture are all-encompassing worldviews that require the modification, if not destruction, of liberal social values and a liberal polity. If Quebec’s underlying principles of secularism and gender equality are threatened by some citizens’ adherence to anti-liberal worldviews, then the PQ’s insistence on rigid state neutrality might be seen as a liberal counter-offensive against such views, not merely an assertion of (perhaps outmoded) collective values. But if such rigid neutrality makes members of minority groups feel unwanted in their own society, then it might have an effect contrary to the one intended.
References
Alexan, N. (2013 October 5). Arretons de dorloter l'integrisme [Let's stop coddling Integralism]. Le Devoir.
Amnesty International Canada (2013 September 20). Charter of Quebec Values: Prohibiting All Government Employees from Wearing Conspicuous Religious Symbols is Disproportionate. Ottawa, Amnesty International.
Angus Reid Global (2013 September 12). Quebecers, Canadians split on proposed Charter of Values.
Assemblee Nationale (2013). Charte affirmant les valeurs de laicite et de neutralite religieuse de l'Etat ainsi que d'egalite entre les femmes et les hommes et encadrant les demandes d'accomodement. Ville de Quebec, Editeur officiel du Quebec.
Assemblee Nationale (2013 November 6). Journal des debats de l'Assemblee. Quebec City, Government of Quebec. 43.
Assemblee Nationale (2013 November 7). Journal des debats de l'Assemblee. Quebec City, Government of Quebec. 43.
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Bakht, N. (2004). "Family Arbitration Using Sharia Law: Examning Ontario's Arbitration Act and its Impact on Women." Muslim World Journal of Human Rights 1(1).
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Berger, T. R. (1982). Fragile Freedoms: Human Rights and Dissent in Canada. Toronto, Clarke, Irwin and Co.
Bertrand, J. (2013 October 15). Une charte pour les femmes [A Charter for women]. La Presse.
Bottari, J. (2013 September 11). Charte Contestee [Contested Charter]. La Presse.
Bouchard, G. (2013 September 10). Charte des valeurs quebecoises--Un mauvais projet pour le Quebec [Charter of Quebec values-- a bad project for Quebec]. Le Devoir.
Bouchard, G. (2015). Interculturalism: A View from Quebec. Toronto, University of Toronto Press.
Bouchard, G. and C. Taylor (2008). Building the Future: A Timne for Reconciliation (Report of the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences). Quebec City, Government of Quebec.
Breton, B. (2013 August 31). Marois joue gros [Marois plays hard]. La Soleil.
Breton, B. (2013 October 19). Qui manipule qui au Quebec? [Who is manipulating whom in Quebec?]. Le Soleil.
Cardinal, F. (2013 August 31). Le malaise Montrealais [The Montreal malaise]. La Presse.
Chambers, G. and others (2013 October 16). Nous, les inclusives [We, those who include]. La Presse.
Clement, D. (2016). Human Rights in Canada: A History. Waterloo, Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse Quebec (2013 October 16). Commentaires sur le document gouvernemental "Parce Que Nos Valeurs, On Y Croit" [Commentary on the Government Document, "Because We Believe in Our Values"].
Deri, T. (2013 September 21). Debat sur les valeurs--Une "sacree" propagande! [The Charter of Values-- a sacred piece of propaganda!]. Le Devoir.
Drainville, B. (2013 September). Parce Que Nos Valeurs, On Y Croit: Document d'Orientation ["Because we Believe in Our Values: Orientation Document"]. Quebec City, Government of Quebec.
Dubuc, A. (2013 September 11). La laicite a geometrie variable  [Secularism; a variable geometry]. La Presse.
Duval, X. B. (2013 October 1). l"enjeu de la charte [The Stake of the charter]. Le Devoir.
Freedman, J. (2004). "Secularism as a Barrier to Integration?  The French Dilemma." International Migration 42(3): 5-27.
Gagnon, L. (2013 September 7). Une grenade contre Montreal [a grenade against Montreal]. La Presse.
Genest, S. (2013 September 11). Le chemin hasardeux d'une societie des individus [The hazardous path of a society of individuals]. La Presse.
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Government of Canada (1985). Canadian Multiculturalism Act. Ottawa, Government of Canada.
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Grey, J. (2013 November 2). Inutile et dangereux [Useless and dangerous]. La Presse.
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Hoodfar, H. (1993). "The Veil in their Minds and on our Heads: The Persistence of Colonial Images of Muslim Women." Resources for Feminist Research 22(3/4): 5-18.
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Howard-Hassmann, R. E. (2003). Compassionate Canadians: Civic Leaders Discuss Human Rights. Toronto, University of Toronto Press.
Howard-Hassmann, R. E. (2011). "Universal Women's Rights Since 1970: The Centrality of Autonomy and Agency." Journal of Human Rights 10(4): 433-49.
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Jacques, D. D. (2013 October 23). La Charte de la confusion [The Charter of confusion]. Le Devoir.
Jedwab, J. (2008 June 11). Enquete sur le Rapport de la Commission Bouchard-Taylor, Association d'etudes Canadiennes.
Kazemipur, A. (2014). The Muslim Question in Canada: A Story of Segmented Integration. Vancouver, UBC Press.
Kerboua, N. (2013 September 14). N'attisons pas le feux de la haine [Let's not fan the flames of hatred]. La Presse.
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Landry, B. (2013 November 3). L'education implique diverses formes d'autorite [Education implies diverse forms of authority]. Le Devoir.
Lapierre, M. (2013 August 28). Des valeurs quebecoises comme l'heritage et comme project [Quebec values as heritage and  project]. Le Devoir.
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Montreal Gazette Editorial Board (2015 June 10). Editorial: Ban on face coverings could undermine deradicalization efforts. Montreal Gazette.
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Paquet, G. (2013 October 19). Charte des valeurs--Ottawa doit bloquer Quebec [The Charter of Values--Ottawa should block Quebec]. Le Devoir.
Petrowski, N. (2013 October 16). Les Janettes et les psys scouts [The Janettes and the "psychologists"]. La Presse.
Quebec Community Groups Network (2013 December 20). Brief to the Committee on Institutions General Consultation and Public Hearings on Bill 60.
Quebec Community Groups Network (2013 November 7). English-speaking community massively opposed to Charter of Values.
Rollert, D., S. Ashraf, et al. (2013 November 7). Un  triste recul [A sad retreat]. La Presse.
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Seymour, M. (2013 August 28). Cachez ce fouland que je ne saurais voir! [Hide this scarf that so that I won't be aware of it!]. Le Devoir.
Simard, M. (2013 September 4). L'alibi de la laicite [The alibi of secularism]. La Presse.
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[1] All translations from French documents and sources are my own. Translated quotations are starred *.