Demeaning identity bill lays out rules for joining 'Club Nous'

Real purpose of Marois's proposal is to consolidate her leadership

Citoyenneté québécoise - Conjoncture de crise en vue

Should we laugh or weep at the Parti Québécois's bid in the auction to buy votes by sacrificing minority rights?
Let's start on the lighter side. How much serious thought could have gone into the PQ's proposed new Quebec constitution when it's the second version the party has presented in only five months? In fact, the first version is still before the National Assembly.
Maybe the PQ should write its constitutions on a slate in chalk, like a restaurant's menu of the day. It would make it easier to erase "fundamental" rights to keep up with the party's mood swings.

The new version would limit minority rights to ensure the predominance of French, the protection and promotion of Quebec culture, the equality of men and women and the secularity of public institutions. The need for such a limitation must have arisen over the summer, since it was not in the constitution proposed in May.
Accompanying the PQ's second stab at a constitution is Pauline Marois's demeaning and discriminatory identity bill, which creates a Quebec citizenship and contains the requirements for membership in the PQ leader's Club Nous.
Among them is a requirement that future arrivals in Quebec pass French and citizenship tests and swear a loyalty oath before being allowed to run for provincial, municipal or school-board office or petition the National Assembly for redress of a grievance. This would apply even to Canadian citizens arriving from the rest of the country.
True to its paternalistic tradition, the PQ doesn't trust voters to judge the qualifications for candidates, though there is little danger that French-speaking ones would choose representatives who don't speak their language.
But lack of an "appropriate knowledge" of French could prevent an English-speaking Canadian citizen with children in English schools from seeking to represent other anglophones on an English school board.
So could refusal to swear the oath "to be loyal to the people of Quebec" as well as to obey the law. Canadian citizens already living in Quebec are presumed to be naturally law-abiding, despite all evidence to the contrary on the province's roads, and would be automatically admitted into Marois's club without swearing the oath - whether they want to join or not.
And although the link to identity may not be obvious, Marois slipped in an amendment to the French Language Charter extending the business francization requirements to firms with as few as 10 employees. This is something the PQ itself has declined to do while in power, because of the costs of compliance to businesses and of enforcement to the government.
One of the stated purposes of Marois's identity bill is to address the problem of integrating "foreign nationals," which it might accomplish, if it were ever adopted, by sending prospective newcomers a message that they really are not wanted here.
Its real purpose, however, is purely political: to consolidate Marois's leadership by satisfying the PQ's need for an expression of its nationalism in the absence of a sovereignty referendum, and to compete with the other parties for francophone votes over the identity question.
Liberal government ministers were quick to criticize Marois for establishing two classes of Quebecers, with two classes of rights. But it was their own leader, Premier Jean Charest, who had made it easier for her to do so.
Without awaiting the report of the Bouchard-Taylor commission he himself had created, Charest announced his own amendment to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to give equality of women with men precedence over freedom of religion.
Thus, he established an Animal Farm hierarchy of fundamental rights - some more fundamental than others - by limiting a minority right.
And the only justification he offered is that there appeared to be a consensus in favour of doing so. That is, it seemed like the popular thing to do.

Or at least it might have been until Charest did it. Most of the reaction to his proposal - and to Marois's - has been negative.
And now we await Mario Dumont's bid.

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