Thursday, March 3, 2011

Does Religious Tolerance in Canada Have A Future?

Yesterday I posted here about the death of Pakistan's Shahbat Bhati at the hands of Isalmic terrorists, noting as many more qualified than I have already said that the grounds for religious tolerance in that country now seems almsot completely eroded.

We are a long way from that state of affairs in Canada, thankfully, but the signs for the future health of religious tolerance and accomodation in Canada are not promising. Following a larger trend in Western countries such as the UK, Germany and France, where prominent politicians have pronounced multiculturalism a failure, Quebec, perhaps Canada's most secular province, is struggling with the issue.

Today the Globe and Mail reported that several prominent academics are warning about trends in Quebec politics hostile to religious accomodation:

Quebec headed toward ‘radical option’ on religious minorities, sociologist fears

MONTREAL— From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Mar. 02, 2011 9:42PM EST
Last updated Thursday, Mar. 03, 2011 7:14AM EST

One of the great thinkers who helped calm Quebec’s reasonable accommodation debate is stirring it up again, saying he fears the province may be headed toward a “radical option” to deal with religious minorities.

GĂ©rard Bouchard, the sociologist who travelled the province with philosopher Charles Taylor to study Quebec’s integration of minorities, said the province still lacks coherent rules to govern accommodation.

He warned that confusion and a leadership vacuum could lead Quebec toward a hardening line against religious freedom for minorities or a free-for-all where institutions twist the rules of secularism. A third scenario he outlined could be an incoherent combination of different rules for Catholic traditions and other faiths.

“The government will have to do something. The public debate has failed to reach a consensus. There is division among the people and in this context the state must intervene. What I am afraid of now is a radical option,” Dr. Bouchard said in an interview on Wednesday.

Three years after the two academics released their report, Jean Charest’s government has set out few clear, coherent principles and specific guidelines for secularism, integration and accommodation the province.

The government has instead boosted French instruction and produced a law to restrict one aspect of the Muslim religion – the veil – while regularly falling into headline-making cases that raise questions about official government neutrality on religion."

Read the whole article here.

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Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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