Trudeau bang on

  • September 5, 2013

Being a Western Canadian who has lived for many years in Quebec, it is more natural for me to want to bury a Trudeau than to praise one.

But federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s immediate, unequivocal and morally astute response to the looming assault on religious freedom in Quebec can’t be deep-sixed just for the sake of regional chauvinism. He deserves commendation for what he said, and even more for being the only major Canadian party leader to say it.

When the trial balloon was floated in late August making public a particularly draconian draft of the so-called Quebec Charter of Values, Trudeau unhesitatingly condemned it as an affront to the foundations of a free and democratic society. More, he asked the question that demanded asking: what and where is the problem that the Charter of Values seeks to resolve?

The proposed Charter, his question made clear, is an affront with nothing behind it. It is simply the state intruding with means that are superficially absurd — regulating the wearing of hats — for a pointless end that is gross violation of personal dignity, conscience and freedom. Under the Charter of Values, at least in the version leaked to the populist Journal de Montreal, employees offering any government service would be prohibited from wearing clothing that has religious meaning for them, notably the hijab for Muslim women, turbans for Sikh men and the kippa for Jews. Christian crosses may still be worn provided they are not “ostentatious.”

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