Philippe Couillard and his Liberal government have pushed Quebec politics back onto the front page nation-wide. The stand of him and his party against former Premier Pauline Marois and the Parti Quebecois' divisive and ultimately fatal Bill 60, the Quebec Charter of Values, was key in the Liberal victory at the polls. But the issue of "values" has never left the political scene in La Belle Province. The history of religious symbols and symbolism is a part of the Quebec identity and reflects into civil law, jurisprudence and education unlike anywhere else in Canada.
True, the Quebec Charter of Values was too far for a majority of Quebecois but the two opposition parties, Parti Quebecois and Coalition Avenir Quebec have maintained their position that protection is needed to preserve Quebec's "identity" and they have polling over years to declare they have wide-spread support. Couillard promised to revisit the issue and bring a compromise forward after the election victory. That process began in June 2015 and culminated on October 18, 2017. Or did it?
As the lustre of victory began to fade, Bill 62 drifted to the right towards PQ and CAQ platform and voter positions. Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee introduced amendments pushing it closer to the failed Bill 60, not the opposition. It should have been near unanimous approval then, oui? Non. The PQ and CAQ voted against it because it still didn't go far enough in their opinion.
Now a bipolar Quebec is forming once more over this issue courtesy of a law with no public text, no guidelines, no regulations, no penalties, no enforcement and no clear purpose. Issues such as the Quebec City mosque attack, municipalities refusing mosques and graveyards and pending legal challenges to a blank law will keep this out front.
Le corps politique. Toujours present, toujours pertinent, toujours en division.
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