The state can't control society

Travail de sape un peu débile: puisque la Charte existe et qu'elle est respectée, il doit bien y avoir une autre raison que le "contrôle de la société par l'État"?

Pauline Marois says she and the Parti Québécois want the "protection and promotion of Quebec culture" to be somehow written into the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Even by Parti Québécois standards, this will stand as a landmark of foolishness.
Exactly what constitutes "Quebec culture" is the subject of much debate these days. Marois and her colleague Pierre Curzi, pressed to define this culture she wants to defend, wouldn't try.
Even if they could somehow define the term, her proposal reveals a wrong-headed way of thinking: that the state is the master of society, rather than its servant. We had our share of that around the world in the last century, and we want no more of it.

Society is vast, inchoate, amorphous, all-inclusive, the sum of all its elements. The state, on the other hand, is a device for imposing the necessary order on society. The state exists to serve society, not the other way around.
Try this little "thought experiment." Imagine that 50 years ago a Quebec Charter of Rights existed, and included a protection for "Quebec culture," one which had enough legal meaning that laws could be measured against it; any law which imperilled or failed to promote Quebec culture, as it then existed, would be thrown out.
In that case we would still today find ourselves in the Quebec of Maurice Duplessis. No Quiet Revolution, no Hydro-Québec, church control of the schools. No abortion, no gay marriage ...
Fortunately society changes. Culture changes. These changes come from the bottom up, bubbling through the population until institutions finally take notice, and change - or break - to reflect new realities. The idea that the state can freeze society is dangerous nonsense.
Just as we shudder now at some elements of the culture of the Duplessis era, so generations not yet born will be astonished and repelled by something or other we take for granted.
These inevitable evolutions of social consciousness may move society in any direction, but the only thing we can be sure of from history is that society will change. Marois might as well legislate to hold back the tide as to encase today's "Quebec culture" in legal amber.
No wonder Charles Taylor reacted sharply when Marois made her pitch last week before the Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accommodation: "It is most unusual in rights charters around the world - and there are many now -- to mention the culture of the society in question, to talk about protecting and promoting the culture," he replied to her suggestion. "It would take a lot of interpretive power on the part of judges to determine exactly what that means." And when he challenged her to show how the Charter as it exists now has threatened Quebec culture, she could not do so.
When she makes a fuss about the state of French, carefully ignoring evidence that suggests the language is doing pretty well, Marois sounds merely petty. When she proposes to freeze our society or culture or core values, on the other hand, she sounds both alarming and ridiculous.
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