Canada Joins the Tea Party

with 63 comments

What does American health care reform and the Québec government’s proposed bill 94 have in common?

Why, they’re both collectivist ploys to take away your rights and guns, of course!

This morning the Montreal Gazette prints an editorial in which it argues that bill 94, a proposed rule that would require citizens to show their faces before receiving government services, is nothing short of an attack on human rights:

On July 1 1960, proposing his Bill of Rights in Parliament, Diefenbaker concluded with these much-quoted words: “I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and for all mankind.”


Quebec’s Bill 94, meanwhile, shows how “collective rights,” even so badly defined as this new right for bureaucrats to see people’s faces, can overrule individual freedom of attire. (…) Basic freedoms keep coming under attack from forces seeking more control over our lives. Ultimately laws and lawyers will not save us unless there is a strong public understanding that the limits on free choice, imposed by mobs or governments or both, will keep growing unless we all resist them.

This is the exact same reasoning the American right and groups like American Majority are currently using to convince people that Obama’s health care reform is only the first step towards the transformation of the USA into a Spanish-speaking slave labour camp:

On March 23, 1775, 235 years ago today, Patrick Henry gave his immortal speech, closing with the lines, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”


I think the American people have a very important choice: are they going to resign themselves to the ever growing chains of government control over their lives, submitting willingly like sheep to acquire some false illusion of peace and prosperity? Or are they going to fight against the forces of statism and push back? That is the great question of the day.

From the defence of the right to hide your face to the government to the discovery, year after year, of illegal religious and linguistic schools who operate in total impunity, civil disobedience by assorted creationists to Québec’s ethics and religious culture high school course (that teaches, G-D forbid!, that all religions carry some wisdom), constant legal challenges to Québec’s elected officials constitutional prerogative to determine the language of education in Québec, the hysterical reaction to the merger of English-speaking municipalities in a united City of Montreal and Louise Harel‘s run for mayor… All this is starting to look more and more like the obscure reaches of the USA where “sovereign citizens” and “tax resisters” oppose the very legitimacy of the democratically elected government.

There seems to be, in Québec, as in the USA, a weird coalition between Anglo Conservatives and various ultraorthodox religious minorities against the very legitimacy of  a State run by people who are not like them.

More than a decade ago, Josée Legault demonstrated in her book L’Invention d’une Minorité how the rhetoric of “individual rights” was highjacked by so-called activists to defend the “collective right” of Québec’s english-speaking minority to opt-out of Québec institutions and build their parallel network of (fully subsidised) institutions.

Today a new cast of minorities: ultra-catholics, orthodox Muslims and and uniformed Jews, are re-enacting the fight for the right to opt-out of Québec society with full compensation, play-by-play, with English-Canada’s elites cheering them on.

That’s no surprise.  The English-Canadian media has been able to come up with arguments for surprising shit, from segregation to organized crime and now to giving self-appointed clerics veto power over the laws of the land, as long as it’s been able to squeeze an argument against the legitimacy of Québec’s government and it’s democratically elected officials out of it.

In that way they are no different than American Tea Party leaders who welcome anyone, from Birthers, to Minutemen and the Militia movement to their rallies, just as long as they oppose The Government.

The good news is that the vast majority of English-Canadians agree their media elites are idiots.

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 29, 2010 at 12:17 pm

63 Responses

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  1. @Raman

    El problema es…

    How do you objectively define a hijab as opposed to the scarf my grandma tied around her neck whenever the weather threatened her perm… and when she entered a church? What about hippie chicks who have a scarf in their hair? What’s the true platonic difference between a yarmukle and a baseball cap? A pirate’s hat and and a hassidic man’s fur hat?

    The easy solution to this is simply to make it clear there are no exceptions. If la Polyvalente St-Henri tolerates headgear in class, well, baseball caps, hijabs, turbans, red, white and blue scullcaps with propellers on top, all of is allowed.

    If there is a no hat rule, all hats come off. God doesn’t run the class, your teacher does. No exceptions. Too fucking bad.

    I don’t think we should start supposing the reasons why a woman wears a scarf in her hair (I’m not talking about the niqab, here). There ARE very good and even progressive reasons why one would: modesty, opposition to our oversexed image of women, a desire not to communicate with men strictly through seduction (Not necessarily successful, I think the hijab is actually sexy).

    I don’t want to know (and neither should the State) why you dress like you do. I don’t want to know about your lucky underwear or that you can’t shave because if you do the Habs will lose in the playoffs. But you should know the rules have no exceptions for superstitions, and that includes religion.


    March 31, 2010 at 2:44 pm

  2. i personally couldnt care less if someone is dressed with a hidjab…burqa or medieval armor…but one thing is sure…NO SPECIAL FAVORS

    you have a veil and you go to the hospital well if it’s a male doctor you will either see him or wait another 4hrs for the unlikely chance of having a female doctor

    you don’t like this?..well you could go elsewhere…like Saoudi Arabia where you can have your beekeeper costume and not feel alone

    i like seeing orthodox jews…especially in summer with the humidex at 40 degrees…a tought always go in my brain …these are not very bright people

    religion…all religion…is pointless and made for weaker minds


    March 31, 2010 at 6:07 pm

  3. Again good points. I’m reassured to see that the issue is not so cut and dried for everyone and that implications beyond the superficial are being considered. I tend to agree with AFG that if we are going to start telling people not to offend us then we absolutely have to be explicit about what we find offensive. “I know it when I see it” just doesn’t cut it. In NY you can find people wearing t-shirts on the street that say “Fuck you you fucking fuck”. Most NYers laugh at that. But I do believe sporting a shirt like that can get you in some hot water in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
    On the other hand I am very sympathetic to and impressed by Raman’s motivations for wanting to eliminate divisive symbols. Though I’m not sure we can or should be mandating the group-hug by law. I should be allowed to tell complete strangers to piss off if I want to. Also your ideas about letting the group culture evolve to reflect its members makes sense too, but again I wonder if the conservative segments of the population would be so open-minded as you and go along with the flow. Certainly not the case in the aforementioned Hot Springs.

    Stephane. These religious people may be quite a bit smarter than you give them credit. It may not be their minds that are weak, but rather their spirits: Their inability to stop clinging onto the reassuring notion of a larger intelligence within the universe that gives our otherwise random lives a higher purpose. That and the fact that it would be way too embarrassing at this point to admit that they’ve been dressing up like circus freaks for decades all for nothing.


    March 31, 2010 at 7:15 pm

  4. edward

    March 31, 2010 at 8:17 pm

  5. Afg,

    We agree. I find the idea of legislating what people can or cannot wear problematic for the reasons you mention, among other things. Though there are pretty solid arguments in some cases, such as nudity or full-faced masks. (I’m curious to see how the new Belgian law on burqas and niqabs will go…)

    My beef regarding religious symbols that people wear on the street does not concern the absence or presence of laws.
    It really is about the current ambient notion that those symbols concern only the rights of the individuals that wear them, and the idea that it doesn’t affect other people.
    It may not harm other individuals directly, but it doesn’t help create a healthy liberal and democratic society, where citizens judge each other solely on their individual merits; rather, it paves the way for a society where people judge each other based on which clan they belong to.

    One aspect of multiculturalism that especially irks me is this notion that we should be opened to people expressing their religiosity at all times through clothes and customs, and that this would somehow make our society richer. This goes against everything any objective analysis teaches us in regards to the place of religions in society.

    Granted, there are “vivre-ensemble” notions that cannot, and should not, be legislated specifically. But they can still be encouraged or discouraged through discourse.

    Laïcité can be made into laws, such as is the case in France, and to a lesser extent in the United-States’ constitution.
    But laïcité is also a culture: An implicit understanding that things run smoother this way.

    That understanding is being tested and challenged these days. Normal. But what I find the most distressing is how secular people are ready to cave in without much counter arguments.
    It’s as if they think it couldn’t possibly go sour because we’re somehow beyond that stage in History. I guess they are unable to draw lessons from the past, or from other places in the World. Or maybe they are too afraid to look intolerant…


    March 31, 2010 at 9:16 pm

  6. raman @ 12:16

    “I know that my position is rather radical on this, but I do feel that a person wearing a simple veil on the street affects me.

    It doesn’t, of course, harm me in any way.”
    point finale.

    i don’t find your position radical but i do find it narrow. why will you not just come out and say that you think the bureaucrats working under the immigration portfolio are doing a poor job?

    if it is control that you are seeking – then your argument is with the government not the individual.

    and why would have any faith that they can address the “problem” (your problem) when they (the government) has been complicit in creating it?


    March 31, 2010 at 11:01 pm

  7. «why will you not just come out and say that you think the bureaucrats working under the immigration portfolio are doing a poor job?»

    So do you think a host society should not in any way get to control or choose who gets to immigrate into it?

    Do you also think a democratic majority should never exert its will on the way society is run?


    April 1, 2010 at 1:42 am

  8. …by the way, johnnyonline, the next time it comes to you to seek a leitmotiv to my way of thinking, stop looking for covert fascist motivations.

    You’ll be surprised to know that I always try to apply Rawlsian principles to my politics.


    April 1, 2010 at 1:47 am

  9. On an unrelated aside (though I believe it’s related, but I couldn’t be bothered to explain why right now), what do you all think of the budget?

    I believe it’s fair in its assessment of the moneys we have to put back into the system to make it functional.
    But I would have preferred if the measures taken would have been:
    1) more progressive, and
    2) greener.
    In this sense I completely agree with Jean-François Lisée’s analyses.

    I also note that the CBC has definitely taken a conservative ideological turn, in line with our country’s minority government’s ideological rule.
    The Lang & O’Realy Exchange (is that a pun?…) tonight featured extensive promotion of the ideas that flat tax and state-less society were the absolute ideals in human evolution (regardless of facts).


    April 1, 2010 at 2:55 am

  10. raman @1:42
    i’m not sure what prompted you to ask these questions – but in response to the first i would say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    what i mean to say is this – if you live in the city and you are allergic, dislike or fear pets – one cannot blame the new neighbour or the neighbour’s pet for showing up on your front porch if you have left the gate open. you’re capable of finding a solution to your problem.

    if your neighbour’s pet is a carnivore that always appears hungry – this is another story. is your neighbour’s pet a dog or a wolf? act accordingly – you are a reasonable person in a modern society.

    you have not or will not identify your new neighbour’s pet other than to say it’s large hairy and you don’t like it. and to make matters complicated raman – you have other neighbours who don’t know what you are worried about.

    we are back to square one – but we both know that if your neighbour’s pet really is a danger – there is going to be a problem – sooner or later.

    my perspective on this is clear – as long as the pet does not menace or bite you and stays off your porch – you should have no say in the matter.

    to provide some comfort on the second question – i fully support laws already established that prohibit wolves in your neighbourhood. i would not advocate for a law against large hairy animals.

    why? – because someday that law could be used against me. or you.


    April 1, 2010 at 6:56 am

  11. «my perspective on this is clear – as long as the pet does not menace or bite you and stays off your porch – you should have no say in the matter.»

    The problem with this ultra-liberal way of seeing things that you always bring upe to solve every social problem people discuss here (and that every Republican or modern-day Tea Partier would completely agree with) is that it completely fails to take into consideration indirect menaces: Menaces that don’t threaten me directly or immediately, but that corrode the environment in which I and all of us have to live in.

    To take your metaphor,
    What if my neighbour’s pet doesn’t come on my porch, but they let it shit on their own all day long. What if, seeing this, my other next-door neighbour starts letting their pet do the same. And gradually the whole neighbourhood follows the example.

    Pretty soon all of us, including I who has no pet, will be living in permanent shit smell.

    Maybe it would be smarter for all of us to sit down and discuss how to better manage our pet’s shit, instead of sticking strictly and blindly to a «I’ll take care of my own porch» ideology?


    April 1, 2010 at 10:34 am

  12. I think the new budget is a necessary evil.
    However as long evils are being considered, we should be seriously discussing massively restructuring the bureaucracy and eliminating as many redundant or unnecessary positions as possible. This kind of restructuring is only thinkable in time of budget crisis so we ought to be making lemonade wholesale out of this situation.

    I’ve read that one person out of five is a federal, provincial or municipal bureaucrat here. That has to take a hefty toll on the budget.


    April 1, 2010 at 5:09 pm

  13. sorry raman – i believe my perspective is conservative – classic liberalism.
    less state, less regulation.

    as i said – you can solve the problem without gouvernemamman – and yes talk to your neighbour and if that doesn’t work – complain to your neighbour – and if that doesn’t work – well then – speak to someone in authourity to see if the menace you perceive is actually a menace. shit happens. until it happens on your porch i don’t think there is any reason to worry.

    despite the fact that i happen to agree with you on this particular issue – in the sense that it is corrosive – so what? the answer is what?

    i think that we would not be having this discussion if the well-paid, well-pensioned and benefits-coming-out-their-ears bureaucrats were doing a better job of assessing candidates’ compatibility with our modern society in the first place.

    the question is way too complex to think that some ban on clothing is going to resolve anything.

    now i’m going to read fast eddy’s pointer on volte-face.


    April 1, 2010 at 5:48 pm

  14. bad dog edward.
    and hey as long as i’m taking a poke – how about hopey changey drill baby drill.

    renditions, guantanamo, no civic trial for khalid, a 400% increase in the use of predator drones and an additional 30,000 troops. where are all the protests?

    and this would be funny if it wasn’t so sad – a global warming researcher froze to death in the antarctic.


    April 1, 2010 at 5:55 pm

  15. Poisson d’avril!

    Obama doesn’t get a free pass – just look at the grief he took for abandoning single-payer – but having a sentient, articulate individual in the White House who can provide a rational explanation for his actions goes a long way with liberals. If we’re not out of Afghanistan by the next election you’ll see him pay a big price. The problem is that the alternatives are all worse if you are a liberal.


    April 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm

  16. edward,

    it’s friday (thursday) night and life is good – there is no asteroid entering the atmosphere and politicians come and go. enjoy.

    tonite’s red wine is a goody and is better because it comes one day early (thank you jesus):
    grand vin de bordeaux – chateau loudenne – medoc 2005


    April 1, 2010 at 6:30 pm

  17. “and this would be funny if it wasn’t so sad – a global warming researcher froze to death in the antarctic.”

    Must have read to many of the Gores and Mann’s press releases!


    April 1, 2010 at 7:47 pm

  18. Fantastic text on the place of religions in modern societies, accommodations, and the politics and culture of laïcité.

    Everything I’ve been trying to say, but eloquently put, and all in nuances.
    I wish I could write like this.

    Texte présenté le samedi 27 mars à la Bibliothèque du Mile-End lors de la Conférence-Débat du CCIEL, par Pierre Joncas


    April 1, 2010 at 10:10 pm

  19. And then, not so eloquent, as nuanced as a raging mammoth, but oh so “jouissant” :


    April 1, 2010 at 10:13 pm

  20. “Les Juifs de sortent pas de leur ghetto, pas plus que les Chinois, les Musulmans, les Grecs ou les Anglais : ils ne communiquent même pas entre eux!

    Comment peut-on faire semblant de penser qu’ils le font avec la nation québécoise et française, qu’ils s’intéressent à notre culture? Nous lisent-ils? Écoutent-ils notre musique?Voient-ils notre cinéma? Notre théâtre? La réponse, c’est : non, pantoute!”

    Come on now! Go to the Convervatory of Music and you will find that a large fraction of the students belong to minority groups: asians and jews are better versed in our own historical culture than we are. I wonder if it ever occurred to M Beaulieu to study the cultures of the Jews, Chinese or Muslims whom he holds up as stubborn isolationists. Pantoute.


    April 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm

  21. “Quand Radio-Canada fait appel à un professeur d’université d’ascendance juive, soi-disant agnostique, mais défendant la laïcité ouverte, voilà ce que j’appelle un détournement d’information(…)”

    Yeah, I’m with Edward here, this text by VLB didn’t impress me.

    There was a time when all Jews, for whatever reason, were outsiders to Québec society. That’s not true anymore. Today we have people like Prof Weinstock who not only speak French, but who are 100% francophones, who have lived their entire lives as part of Francophone Québec, received their entire education in French schools and speaks the same haughty Québec French as other intellectuals and VLB feel the need to underline their Jewish origins as if that somehow disqualifies them to have an opinion on this issue…


    April 2, 2010 at 4:38 pm

  22. A small point on VLB’s characterization of MTL as “une ville de ghettos”–

    Some years ago the Cowboys Fringants made some brilliant use of traditional Eastern European Jewish music in their work. I suggest that “ghettos”–it might be fairer to call them ethnic enclaves–may not always necessarily be as harmful to QC Franco culture as VLB seems to believe.


    April 2, 2010 at 6:44 pm

  23. AFG writes:

    There was a time when all Jews, for whatever reason, were outsiders to Québec society.

    AFG, perhaps you meant to write “francophone Quebec society.

    Jews who are born in Quebec but choose not to integrate into the francophone milieu are as much a part of Quebec society as the de souche born and bred in Chicoutimi.

    Tony Kondaks

    April 2, 2010 at 8:08 pm

  24. Well, I did say he was as nuanced as a raging mammoth…

    Maybe I misread what he meant when talking about Weinstock being Jewish, but I didn’t interpret it the way you did.

    This text being about laïcité, and about how some intellectuals try very hard to associate the concept with intolerance, I saw it as an attack on what VLB perceives as partiality on Weinstock’s part in this debate. I thought VLB believes that Weinstock is trying to preserve some room for religious Jews’ prerogatives through accommodations.
    -The same way it’s been pointed out that Charles Taylor is very partial toward religiosity, himself being a Christian believer, and that he even wrote about how the Enlightenment was very much an atrocity, what with the idea that rationality should govern the World.

    Maybe I give VLB too much credit.
    This said, and putting his anger aside, I am with him in denouncing communities’ ethnic and religious self-ghettoization, and in denouncing the tacit encouragements given to that phenomena by some intellectuals and politicians who profess that it will lead to better integration.


    April 2, 2010 at 8:21 pm

  25. Yes. The recent Outremont burnt toast incident is a good example of what Raman is talking about.

    If the Orthodox community had any interest in trying to explain their arcane rules and traditions to the mainstream community there could be a great deal more mutual understanding and “give and take”. Orthodox Judiasm is so filled with regulations and restrictions that I’m sure they could find a great deal of common-ground with the bean-counting bureaucrats in the hotel de ville.


    April 3, 2010 at 8:33 am

  26. I’ve been mentioning how I believe it important that we foster a “culture of laïcité”, if we are to make this democratic pluralistic society function.

    -I believe it is not outright illegitimate to consider banning extreme religious outfits, at least from public institution. (Especially when they symbolize very anti-democratic values, such the non-equality of individuals, and especially the inferiority of women.)

    -I also believe it is very reasonable to ask that public officers as well as people of authority be asked to not show their religious affiliations; just as they are asked to not show political partisanship.

    But, beyond legislation, regarding this culture of laïcité, I think the best proposition so far is that its promotion be included in the school curriculum, in some for or other. For example, as Joncas suggests:

    Cela dit, je souhaiterais au moins que, s’il est maintenu, le programme d’ECR ait pour complément un programme portant sur l’évolution sociale, culturelle et intellectuelle de l’Occident, et où serait reconnue la contribution – indispensable pour la reconnaissance des libertés fondamentales et pour l’émancipation des esprits – des penseurs du Siècle des Lumières.

    I do believe this would be a very reasonable initiative.

    In passing, thanks to Edward and AFG here.

    -I write on forums like this mostly for very selfish motives.
    Writing and debating are great ways to help define one’s positions and, through having them confronted, to see where they need readjusting.

    You guys are very good at throwing balls back. So thanks.


    April 3, 2010 at 5:50 pm

  27. vive VLB!


    April 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm

  28. You’ve certainly helped open my mind Raman.

    If you listen carefully you can hear the warm summer breeze whistling through it.

    Joncas’ proposal to teach the Enlightenment as part of our heritage is excellent. But it also has an eerie similarity (turned on its head of course) to the demands by US conservatives to rewrite the history of our enlightenment thinkers as creating the foundations of Christian primacy in America. (Nice way to bring AFG’s tea party analogy full circle).

    That goes hand in hand with the less nuanced efforts to add creation or ID to the curricula alongside evolution theory.

    My concern is that unless the teachers are fully up to the task, the simple-minded concepts come through but the sophisticated ideas get muddled. Students in the US are being told that Evolution is JUST a theory, as if that somehow detracts from its validity. This is not good for children who can’t help but conclude that they are being told that it is somehow an unsettled matter among biologists, when in fact there are more physicians who believe in satanic possession than biologists who disbelieve evolution.

    In any event having the Enlightenment be a core part of the fundamental political history training for our kids would be something really wonderful.


    April 4, 2010 at 11:04 am


    En réponse à Mère Thérèsa
    André Vincent
    Tribune libre de Vigile
    lundi 18 janvier 2010 236 visites 1 message


    Pour un débat large, ouvert et démocratique…

    En réponse à Mère Thérèsa,

    Dans quarante ans d’ici, il ne fait aucun doute que Françoise David fera partie d’un débat sur l’Âge d’Or, à savoir qui sommes-nous en tant que personne du troisième àge, que voulons-nous et où allons nous par rapport à l’avenir du Québec, et dans un deuxième temps, que pouvons-nous faire au moment où on se parle pour que les travailleurs et les travailleuses du Québec, les votants et les voteuses du Québec, les débatteurs et les débatteuses du Québec, les parlotteux et les parlotteuses du Québec enfin bref, que pouvons nous faire afin que les personnes en voie de vieillissement au Québec puissent enfin vivre dans un Québec Solidaire et démocratique, tout en conciliant inter et multi-culturalisme à l’intérieur d’un Canada prospère et uni, démocratique, socialiste et solidariste — point d’interrogation.

    En fait, la question n’a aucune importance, mais le débat si, et ce, afin que tous les citoyens et les citoyennes du Québec puissent s’exprimer librement et en toute comnnaissance de cause sur un sujet qui nous concerne tous en tant que citoyens et citoyennes du Québec reponsables.

    Et tout ça chers Québécois Québécoises, voile pas voile ! et pour en arriver là, il est absolument essentiel d’élargir le débat.

    En terminant chers Vigiliens-Vigiliennes, je vous souhaite à tous de ne pas être placés dans le même Centre d’Acceuil pour personnes en perte d’autonomie…


    April 4, 2010 at 11:17 am

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