Charter of Shame

2013-09-30

On September 9, 2013, Hampstead’s Town Council adopted a resolution opposing Quebec’s Charter of Values. Much has been written since then about the Charter, but the focus has been on ridiculing how it could be applied. How big a cross is too big? When is a scarf on the head a hijab? Why is the cross on Mount Royal OK but a cross around the neck not? Ridicule is good because there is nothing worse for a politician than to be ridiculed.

However, I am concerned that these criticisms miss some key points. The Charter is not flawed because it is hard to apply; it is flawed because it legalizes discrimination against religious and cultural groups. It is tyranny of the majority against minorities.

I am very pleased to be a citizen of a liberal democracy as opposed to a non-liberal democracy. A liberal democracy has a constitution that limits the power of government so that basic rights are not easily removed from minorities. Quebec currently is a liberal democracy because it has an excellent Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. I suggest that readers take a minute to Google it and see what we will lose when the Charter is amended so that the new Charter of Values will be legal.

Here are just two excerpts:

Whereas all human beings are equal in worth and dignity, and are entitled to equal protection of the law.

Every person is the possessor of the fundamental freedoms, including freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, … freedom of expression.

The Charter of Values will not allow freedom of conscience, of religion or of expression for people who wish to work for the government, in hospitals, as teachers and even as daycare workers. Employment should be based on one’s ability and not on any other characteristics.

Do Quebecers really want to become like Saudi Arabia and Iran where the state dictates what one can and cannot wear?

In Quebec, I am a member of three minorities. I speak English. I am handicapped (hearing) and I am a Jew. This Charter will take away my freedom as a Jew. How long before other freedoms are removed from me or you in the name of making all Quebecers fit a certain mould?

It is a slippery slope and that is why we must vigorously oppose any infringements on our basic freedoms. Today it may be others but tomorrow it will be you and to paraphrase the famous poem (First they came for ….) there will be no one left to speak up for you.

If you have any comments or questions on this topic or anything else related to Hampstead, please e-mail me at WSteinberg@Hampstead.qc.ca or call me 7 days a week until midnight at my home office (514) 483-6954.


Sincerely,


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead