Quebec’s ‘true foes’ are religious ‘fundamentalists’, say Liberals


QUEBEC – Quebec’s Liberal Party says that rather than indiscriminately prohibiting public expressions of faith, the province should target its “true foes”: religious fundamentalism and extremism.

The provincial counterpart to Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberal Party says it plans to propose its own charter to rival the controversial Charter of Secularism, or Charter of Values, proposed by Pauline Marois’ Parti Quebecois government.

Quebec Liberal leader Philippe Couillard has yet to outline what he considers “religious fundamentalism,” but the medical doctor told the Montreal Gazette that it would include radical Islamists as well as “Christian fundamentalists” who opt out of vaccinations for their children.

“Not having kids vaccinated, to me, is a serious issue,” he said.

In a November 7 release outlining his plan, Couillard said, “The battle against fundamentalism and extremism requires a multipronged approach involving all levels of government within their respective jurisdictions.”

“Religious fundamentalism and extremism of any kind are, in fact, the true foes of a lawful society such as ours,” he writes. “To assume that wearing any type of religious symbol constitutes a manifestation of such fundamentalism or extremism is blatantly simplistic.”

“How to combat fundamentalism without jeopardizing our rights and freedoms?” he asks. “That is the real question, rather than what is the appropriate dress code for state employees.”

“Our party plans to reflect further on this issue and identify concrete and effective actions to fight these phenomena,” he adds.

 “To say religious is poison, so let’s get it out… Stoking that attitude is my concern.”

Georges Buscemi, president of Campagne Quebec-Vie, suggested the plan could have dire ramifications for parental rights and the education of children.

“If religious extremism is so dangerous, then you might need to be more vigilant about how parents are educating their children,” he said. “How do you protect kids from that propaganda and then how do you also prevent them from being conveyed to the next generation?”

“Will homeschooling be allowed for long?” he asked.

He said that it appears the Liberal plan is designed to combat Islamic radicalism, but it threatens to target Christians and moral conservative in order to avoid singling out Muslims.

“The danger for social conservatives is they can be caught in the net,” he said. “Any legislation, whether from the PQ or the Liberals, will never be so precise as to say we have a problem with Islamic radicals. Even if their true concern is with Islam, they can’t formulate it that way.”

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“The danger is that they could stoke what’s already a current tendency to view religion in general with suspicion,” he continued. “To say religious is poison, so let’s get it out, let’s get it all out. Stoking that attitude is my concern.”

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