If passed into law, Quebec’s Bill 21 will make it illegal for many public servants to wear a religious symbol while carrying out their job responsibilities.
The Bill applies to a wide range of public and governmental functions: a justice of the peace, clerk, sheriff, bankruptcy registrar, labour arbitrator, peace officer, criminal prosecutor, principal, teacher, or a lawyer or notary acting for a government body, to name but a few.
If Bill 21 only prohibited face coverings in some contexts, it could be justified by security concerns, and by long-standing Western Judeo-Christian cultural traditions in Quebec and the rest of Canada.
While Bill 21 does prohibit covering one’s face in some contexts, it goes much further. Bill 21 prohibits practicing Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and members of other faiths from wearing any religious symbol while providing government services to the public.
Bill 21 includes a “grandfather” clause to save religious Quebecers in the public service from immediately losing their jobs upon the law coming into force, but this is disingenuous. Bill 21 makes it clear that religious observant citizens who are not already employed as policemen and teachers should not apply for such positions in future.
Quebec’s government justifies Bill 21 on the basis on four principles: (1) the separation of State and religions; (2) the religious neutrality of the State; (3) the equality of all citizens; and (4) freedom of conscience and religion. While these four principles are indeed a central component of a free society, none of them support Bill 21.
The “separation of State and religions” is in no way violated by an Orthodox Jew wearing a kippa, or by a Muslim wearing a kufi, or by a Sikh wearing a turban, while providing a government service.
Civil servants do not lose their religious freedom, or their freedom of expression, when carrying out government functions. The separation of church and state means simply that the government must refrain from imposing, or requiring adherence to, a particular worldview, ideology or belief system.
Similarly, “the religious neutrality of the State” is severely undermined by a law that imposes atheist metaphysical beliefs on people by prohibiting them from wearing religious garb that might express disagreement with atheism or secularism. The principle of state neutrality applies to the government as a whole, not to each and every teacher, clerk, policeman, etc.
Most atheists assert that atheism is not a religion. Depending on how “religion” is defined, this may well be true. But there is no getting away from the fact that atheism, secularism, materialism and other isms are belief systems.
Like religions, these belief systems are based on unprovable assumptions about the nature, meaning and purpose of human life. In a free country, state neutrality means that the government has no business promoting or imposing any belief system or worldview on citizens, be it atheism, Christianity, secularism or Islam.
As for “the equality of all citizens,” Bill 21 effectively concludes that those who belong to a religion that requires them to wear a head covering (for example, Orthodox Jewish men wear a kippa) are less equal than those who belong to a religion (Catholicism, for example) that has no such requirement.
Under Bill 21, Quebec’s Catholics and atheists have no jobs closed to them, whereas Orthodox Jews and others need not apply for many government positions. That’s not equality.
As for freedom of conscience and religion, Bill 21 squarely tramples this freedom into the ground.
That’s zero for four. None of the principles cited to justify Bill 21 support the legislation.
If the man renewing my driver’s licence wears a turban, it does not impose his religion on me.
All that is “imposed” on me is the knowledge that the civil servant in front of me might adhere to a particular religious faith. I am not required to agree with, or approve of, that religion. Nor is the government promoting or endorsing a faith because one of its paid employees personally expresses adherence to that faith by honouring a particular dress code.
Banning face coverings in some contexts can be justified by the desire of Quebec – and any other society – to preserve its Western civilization, heritage and culture.
Freedom is crucial to that tradition, and our freedoms are not a suicide pact. Preserving our free and democratic society means that freedom of conscience should not extend to the extreme of tolerating public nudity, or to the radically opposite extreme of tolerating the covering of one’s face when exercising a public duty; for example, swearing the oath of citizenship.
But Bill 21 panders to a hypersensitivity presupposing that atheists, as well as others who do not adhere to any religion, are so thin-skinned that they just can’t handle knowing that a teacher, civil servant or policeman belongs to a religious faith.
Among atheists and other secularists, only very few of them are that intolerant. Those who are that fragile need to learn to respect and accept the fact that many Canadians do practice a religious faith, and that merely wearing a symbol of that faith does not impose it on others.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca).
The Philadelphia Flyers’ beloved mascot Gritty is being investigated by police after a father claimed that the big orange furry monster punched his 13-year-old son in the back.
Chris Greenwell took his son Brandon to the Wells Fargo Center for a November meet and greet photoshoot with the beloved, google-eyed mascot.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Greenwell claims that “Brandon playfully patted the mascot on the head after the photo was taken. As Brandon walked away, Gritty got out of his chair, ‘took a running start,’ and ‘punched my son as hard as he could,’ Greenwell said Wednesday.”
“We took Mr. Greenwell’s allegations seriously and conducted a thorough investigation that found nothing to support this claim,” said a spokesperson for the Philidelphia Flyers.
A police spokesperson has described the alleged incident as a possible “physical assault” that occurred “during a photoshoot with 13-year-old white male and Flyers mascot Gritty. The investigation is active and on-going.”
The hashtag #FreeGritty is now trending on Twitter.
The Ontario teachers’ strikes are proving to be more acrimonious than anyone expected. Elementary teachers have now opted out of writing report cards and have already begun to engage in rotating strikes.
The Ontario government, on the other hand, have offered up to $60 per day for parents who are feeling the fiscal consequences of the strike, and rumours of back to work legislation is being floated around the corridors of Queen’s Park.
The teachers’ strikes are deeply consequential and have affected the day-to-day lives of 13 million Ontarians who live in the most populace province in Canada. Due to the vast impact this strike, and the mainstream media’s lack of balance in the coverage (often siding with the unions and tecahers), The Post Millennial has compiled a list of things you need to know about the Ontario teachers’ strikes.
1. Ontario’s teachers are among the highest paid in the country
Ontario’s teachers are among the best paid in the country. In the Greater Toronto Area, for instance, top teachers can expect to get paid up to $96,000 a year. The average salary for a teachers in Ontario is $89,300 for elementary teachers and $92,900 for high school teachers. In contrast, the average Ontarian earns $55,000 per year.
2. Ontario teachers are taking more and more sick days
A 2017 study found that teachers have been taking more and more sick days over the past five years. On average, sick days have increased by over 30 percent. In 2020, another report revealed even starker results with teachers taking 70 percent more sick days than over a decade ago.
3. Teachers get a whole lot of time off
Ontario’s teacher’s have a pretty great job. Not only do they get paid a wage that is far higher than the average Ontarian, they also get a lot of time off. Due to breaks in the school year, teachers are allowed three whole months off, on top of the aforementioned sick days.
4. Teachers’ Unions are spending big bucks to win the PR war
So far, the OSSTF has spent $336,389 on Facebook ads alone. These ads usually attack the Ford government and have been running since June. In one week alone, they spent over $40,000. They’re also waging a war of words against Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce through the mainstream press.
5. The Ontario government has already made concessions, but unions won’t meet in the middle
Premier Doug Ford has offered numerous concessions to the teachers’ unions from the government’s initial demands. Ford, for example, offered to meet the teachers half-way on classroom size. This, however, was not good enough for the teachers, and they walked away from the negotiation table. They’re also refusing to do report cards and help out in after school activities, despite claiming the strikes are primarily for the students, not their pay cheques.
6. Ontario’s students are flunking math tests
If you’re going to teach mathematics to a new generation of students, you should probably have to prove that you have some basic ability to do so. This hardly unreasonable request, however, created some tension with the teachers’ unions. Despite EQAO tests showing all-time lows, the unions were upset that teachers had to score at least 70 percent in a math test.
7. Ontario’s debt is astronomically high
After a decade of Liberal government, Ontario’s debt stands at over $350,000,000,000. This figure constitutes one of the highest sub-national debts in the world. Due to this, the Ford government is trying to cut back public sector salaries, which means slowing down the rate at which teachers are paid. Teachers in Ontario also have what many experts consider to be a great pension package.
Shawn Lewis, city councillor for London, brought forth a motion to move the annual London Santa Claus Parade at Tuesday’s Community and Protective Services Committee meeting. The idea for the move is due to its proximity to the Remembrance Day Parade according to CBC.
The motion Lewis introduced was to restrict any parade permits on public streets between Nov. 1-11, the idea being so that the public doesn’t lose focus on the veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made. Lewis serves as chair on the committee.
“As a member of the Royal Canadian Legion myself, I think it is important that Remembrance Day and the lead up to it have a public focus on our veterans and the sacrifices they have made for us,” Lewis wrote in a letter.
The London Santa Claus Parade has taken place on the second Saturday of November in the past, a date that often falls just before Remembrance Day, leaving many veterans feeling unappreciated.
The organizers of the Santa Claus parade agreed to move the date in the future but Lewis wanted to ensure that this didn’t become an issue down the line.
“As time goes on, people retire from organizing events, other people take over, councils change, mayors change, and I think it’s just a good idea to formalize it in our procedures and policies with respect for our veterans,” he told the committee.
Much to Lewis’ delight, the motion passed 4-1.
Ward 3 Coun. Mo Salih voted against the decision however stating, “Me personally, I’m supportive [of the motion], … but I’m struggling on restricting people from choosing to make their own decisions,”
He went on to add, “Many of those people who have served, served to ensure people can make whichever decisions they want to make and do what they want to do on certain days, but I recognize where this is coming from,”
“It seems like a simple solution,” said Ward 1 Coun. Michael Van Holst, who voted in favour of the motion. “[It’s] surprising that someone hasn’t thought of it before.”
Lewis stressed the importance of dealing with this procedurally, saying it’s the only way to address the issue but the decision will still require approval from city council.
The former intermin Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose has officially announced that she will not be running in the Conservative leadership contest.
Ambrose, who was encouraged to run by Brad Wall and Jason Kenney, is a highly respected figure within the party with particularly deep roots in Western Canada.
In a statement published to Facebook, Ambrose stated that it was “humbling to be considered” for CPC leadership. “I love our party, I love the people in it and I love our country. I have really struggled with the decision to return to political life,” she added.
“I loved my 13 years in public service as an MP, minister and especially as leader of this great party. But right now, I am focused on making a difference through the private sector. Creating policy and advocating for our energy sector to create jobs … the truth is, I love being back in Alberta.”
This will come as a blow to many Conservative supporters across Western Canada who viewed Ambrose as the best chance of defeating Justin Trudeau. She also would have been a deeply competitive candidate in the leadership election.
As a result, Marilyn Gladu remains the only women who is competing in the leadership contest. This announcement will be celebrated by the veteran Tory candidates like Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, who risked having their vote share divided.