Greg Fergus notes his Montserrat-born grandfather was a tailor in the RAF — “that was as far as they would let that young Black man serve.”
A Quebec has passed legislation that would bar civil servants in positions of “authority” from wearing religious symbols at work.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec’s (CAQ) bill covers judges, police officers, teachers and other public figures.
It prevents the wearing of symbols such as the kippah, turban or hijab at work.
Also passed was an immigration bill that will replace a first-come, first-served standard for accepting migrants with one tied to applicants’ skills.
The secularism bill has sparked protests and debate in the province since its introduction.
It was passed late on Sunday night following a rare weekend sitting at the Quebec provincial legislature.
Existing employees will be exempt from the bill.
The centre-right CAQ was elected last autumn in part on pledges to restrict immigration and to bring in secularism legislation.
Critics say the legislation, which does not mention any specific religion, targets Muslim women in the province who wear hijabs or other head-coverings.
In an attempt to insulate the legislation from a legal battle, the CAQ pre-emptively included the “notwithstanding clause” in the bill.
That clause is part of the Constitution that allows the government to override “fundamental freedoms” of religion, expression, and association; the right to life, liberty and security of the person; and freedom from discrimination – essentially an opt-out option that can be used for a five-year period.
The CAQ also included amendments to the bill that would help ensure enforcement of the new law.
Who has spoken out against the bill?
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that he does not “think a lot of people feel that in a free society we should be legitimising discrimination of our citizens based on religion”.
Montreal, the largest city in the province, is where most immigrants to Quebec settle. In April, its city council unanimously voiced its opposition to Bill 21.
Religious groups and organisations like the National Council for Canadian Muslims, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, B’nai Brith, and the Anglican dioceses of Quebec have come out in opposition, as have some school boards and unions.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs called Bill 21 “reckless”, while the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are expected to announce a joint legal challenge against the bill.
Which groups are in favour of the bill?
Secularism, or laicite, organisations and their supporters have praised the law as a reasonable step towards enshrining the separation or Church and state in Quebec.
Besides the governing CAQ, two political parties – the provincial Parti Quebecois and the federal Bloc Quebecois – also support Bill 21.
Numerous opinion polls have also indicated that about two-thirds of Quebec residents support a religious symbols ban in some form.
Is this a first for Quebec?
The debate over secularism has played a significant role in the province’s public discourse for over a decade, and this is not the first attempt by a Quebec political party to bring in related legislation.
In 2014, the Parti Quebecois proposed a so-called Charter of Values, legislation that would have barred public servants from wearing religious symbols and made it mandatory to have one’s face uncovered when providing or receiving a government service.
In 2017, the provincial Liberals passed more narrowly focused legislation that barred people from wearing face coverings when giving or receiving a public service, which was quickly challenged in court and suspended by a Canadian judge a year ago.
MacKay will vote for Scheer to stay on as Conservative Leader
Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay says that when the time comes to vote on Andrew Scheer’s continued leadership of the party, he’s going to back the Conservative Leader.
The comment comes less than two weeks after MacKay told a Wilson Centre think tank panel in Washington that Scheer’s 2019 election loss “was like having a breakaway on an open net and missing the net.”
Now, MacKay – whose name has been floated as a potential challenger to Scheer for the top spot in the party – told CTV Power Play host Don Martin that he supports the current leader and will continue to do so.
“Well Andrew Scheer is going to face a mandatory review, Don, that’s part of the Conservative constitution, so that will be for he and the membership. I’ll be there, and I’ll be voting no,” MacKay told Martin in a pre-taped interview, airing Monday.
MacKay also walked back other comments made during the same panel on Oct. 30. At the time, MacKay said the chatter about issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage “hung around Andrew Scheer’s neck like stinking albatross, quite frankly.”
Speaking to Martin on Monday, MacKay said those comments weren’t directed at Scheer’s position on those issues.
“Those comments, of course, were torqued. It was about the election performance generally, writ large, myself included. It wasn’t aimed directly at Andrew Scheer – and when I said there was an albatross around his neck, he didn’t put it there. It was put there by the media, it was put there by the opposition quite deliberately to hamstring his performance,” said MacKay.
Asked about the lack of clarity surrounding Scheer’s personal beliefs on same-sex marriage, MacKay couldn’t explain why Scheer hasn’t been more clear.
“I think Andrew Scheer, who has very strong beliefs, doesn’t think it’s a sin and I can’t answer why it is he hasn’t been more direct in his answer,” MacKay said.
MacKay went on to defend both Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party’s record when it comes to protecting human rights.
“Andrew Scheer was part of the Conservative government for ten years that not only didn’t remove rights, it enhanced rights. It spoke up for people’s rights on the international stage…there’s a proud legacy that Andrew Scheer is a part of, can take ownership of, and can proudly stand behind and I believe he is doing that. He’s trying to make that case.”
Scheer was criticized during the election campaign for failing to clarify his personal beliefs on issues including same-sex marriage and abortion. Scheer, a social Conservative who has publicly opposed both issues in the past, says he would uphold the law on abortion.
He also said in a pre-campaign speech that if he formed government, he would “support and introduce” legislation that protects LGBTQ Canadians.
Nova Scotians condemn Don Cherry’s poppy comments
Joseph Lunda recalls choking back tears while teaching high school students about the contributions of Canadian soldiers in the First and Second World Wars.
A historian, he immigrated to Canada from the Democratic Republic of Congo 37 years ago, and became a Canadian history teacher in Nova Scotia.
“Any time I’m talking about a site where Canadians fought, all the time tears were coming,” he told Global News at the Remembrance Day Ceremony in Dartmouth.
“Why? Because I remember what these people have done for all of us to benefit (from) — the liberty, the freedom — in this country.”
Lunda is one of many Canadian immigrants who felt hurt by comments from Don Cherry suggesting not enough newcomers wear poppies, and therefore don’t support veterans.
Cherry made the complaint during his Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, and has since received an abundance of backlash, including calls for his resignation.
Lunda, who now teaches at Université Sainte-Anne, attended the Remembrance Day Ceremony with his family. He said not wearing a poppy is not necessarily an indication that one doesn’t support members of the Canadian Armed Forces, past or present.
“Let’s say I have it on my chest and it falls down, and I meet Don Cherry. He’s going to tell me I’m not supporting veterans?” he said. “You see I am here at this memorial. Why am I here? Because I support.”
Others agreed with Lunda and spoke out against the hockey commentator’s suggestion.
Don Cherry faces backlash over comments on Remembrance Day, poppies and immigrants
Gerry White, a veteran of both Royal Canadian Navy and RCMP, said it’s “pretty straightforward” — Cherry’s comments were “out of line.”
“I won’t say disgusting, (but) I guess I already did,” White told Global News. “I don’t think that was a comment that’s shared by the large majority of Canadians…
“One of the rights we fought for was your right to wear a poppy or not wear a poppy. It’s pretty straightforward.”
Dartmouth-Cole Harbour MP Darren Fisher said he was “very disappointed” in Cherry’s Saturday night rant and said Canada is a country made up of immigrants. The new federal government in Ottawa has a responsibility to unite Canadians, he added, in the face of anti-immigrant sentiments.
“We hear it occasionally and it’s very disappointing every time we hear it. This is not a time to be divisive in Canada, this is a time to be united,” he explained.
“Look at the crowds here today. This is a beautiful, beautiful day to honour our veterans — the women and men who served Canada.”
“I think Canadians get it more and more.”
Fisher said he’d like to see all Canadians show the same level of support for veterans, not just on Remembrance Day, but every day.
Cherry has yet to apologize for his comments over the weekend. Late on Monday Sportsnet confirmed that Cherry had stepped down from his role on Hockey Night in Canada.
“Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday Night’s Broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down,” said Sportsnet’s president Bart Yabsley in a statement.
“During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for,” said Yabsley in a statement.
—With files from Hannah Jackson
Man up and apologize, Liberal MP from Quebec tells Don Cherry
The Liberal MP for Hull-Aylmer is calling upon Don Cherry to apologize for remarks about immigrants he made on last Saturday’s edition of Hockey Night in Canada.
“My Montserrat-born and bred grandfather signed up for the RAF and served as a tailor, for that was as far as they would let that young Black man serve,” Greg Fergus wrote in his Twitter account in the hours after Cherry’s comments. “Because of that service, he was able to bring his young family to Canada.
“Seven decades later, I am able to take my seat in the House of Commons and serve my country. Mr. Cherry: my grandfather’s story is not unique. I trust you are a big enough man to apologize for your comments.”
Fergus’ comments are part of the larger wave of backlash over comments made about immigrants by Cherry during his Coach’s Corner segment.
The 85-year-old commentator — no stranger to controversy sparked by his comments in the past — suggested new immigrants were not wearing poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance Day.
“You people … that come here … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,” Cherry said. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”
After Cherry’s remarks sparked a massive online backlash, Sportsnet issued an apology, saying “Don’s discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network.”
Ron MacLean, Cherry’s on-air sidekick who had nodded and given a thumbs up during the remarks, also issued an apology, saying the comments were “were hurtful and prejudiced and I wish I had handled myself differently. It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it.”
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