November 12, 2007
Right Honourable Mr Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Parliament of Canada
We have not received acknowledgment of our first letter, which was sent to you on the 10th of September. This letter described our wish to see you take a position in the “reasonable accommodation” file, which had lead to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission. First of all, as you already know based on public opinion polls, more than 85% of Quebeckers reject the principles of religious accommodation. Furthermore we note that your support for Quebec has, up to now, been limited to acknowledging its status as a Nation, without defining the limits of the meaning of the term. Would it not be appropriate for you to contribute to the future development of Quebec by participating in these discussions?
We are of the opinion that modern Canada, on a daily basis, is experiencing great difficulties because of the principles behind Canadian multiculturalism and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The hundreds of emails that we are receiving from Canadians, from the East and the West, are testimony to the tremendous sense of anxiety and concern over the rise of religious fundamentalism in this country. We have only to look at the number of demands for religious accommodation in Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Calgary to be convinced of this problem. Furthermore, our Governor-General, Her Excellency Michaelle Jean, suggested recently that the debate taking place in Quebec could soon be inevitable throughout Canada. In saying this she clearly supported the justified concerns of Quebeckers in this matter.
We urge you to reconsider the position which you took on November 7, where you casually dismissed the idea that this debate should even take place in Quebec, despite the concerns raised by the population of both Quebec and Canada.
It is clear to us, as it is for all of Quebec, that freedom of religion as currently defined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will only serve to satisfy the demands of a future religious state. The many demands for accommodation across the country are proof of this. By ignoring these indicators, you are endangering the future of Quebec and Canada. Religion, in the same way as spirituality, should remain a personal thing, and any religious accommodation which encourages fundamentalism of any kind should be immediately refused. To ensure that this happens, you should reorient the Charter in such a ways as to prevent the courts from taking the lead role on this question in Canada. This role of legislator is the one that the Canadian electorate elected you to play.
We are prepared to support any initiative on your part that will work in the direction we have outlined here. We will provide you with any pertinent documentation that we have and that you may require.
Citizens of Houxville
Cc Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General
Diane Finley, Immigration Minister (Canada)
Jason Kenney, Secretary of State Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity
Stockwell Day, Public Safety Minister
Jos Verner, Canadian Heritage Minister
Jack Layton, NDP leader
Sthane Dion, LPC leader
Gilles Duceppe, BQ leader
Jean Charest, Prime Minister of Quec
Yolande James, Immigration Minister (Quec)
Mario Dumont, ADQ leader
Pauline Marois, PQ leader
Open letter to Mr. Stephen Harper (September 10, 2007)
Prime Minister of Canada
We have been closely involved in the Houxville affair. This privileged situation enabled us to accumulate an abundant documentation hailing from many countries, including Canada, our own country.
The astronomical amount of e-mails and documents we received to date indicate that the vast majority of quebecers wish that Quebec be dispensed of the obligation of having to grant religious accommodations on its territory. It appears that this opinion is also shared by many canadians, including newcomers (immigrants).
In fact, many western and central canadians told us of their total disagreement in many aberrant instances. For example, a taxi driver who refused to drive a blind passenger accompanied by his guide dog under the pretext that his religion forbid him to be in the presence of the animal… Another example is the case where citizens we e granted the right to remove their picture from identification documents for religious purposes… Then again, recently, certain citizens requested that polygamy be legalized… The more astonishing example concerns lliance? the canadian civil service union who obtained from the Treasury Board that participants be dispensed from paying their union dues if their religion imposed such, and that instead, the dues be replaced by a contribution (donation) to an organism of their choice i.e. community, sect, church etc.
These situations have become common currency in this country with the assent of our courts of justice and our very own government. How can we be surprised when a vast number of people inform us of their total incomprehension and disagreement concerning prisoners who receive special treatment during their detention granting them access to foods and menus that are in conformity with their religious precepts? This situation is symptomatic of the lack of leadership in prison management. Are we also surprised by the forever rising costs caused by such ridiculous accommodations?
A brief analysis demonstrates that the prime source of the problem stems from the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Liberties whose application comes under the responsibility of the Supreme Court of Canada. Our Supreme Court is administered by judges and lawyers; public participation is excluded and government ministers and M.P seem to be completely submitted despite the opinions of the very people who elected them. The second source is canadian policy on lticulturalism who propaganda instrument is Canadian Heritage. The third source is Citizenship and Immigration Canada and its awkward policies.
It is very clear for all that a canadian province wishing to be dispensed of its binding obligations concerning religious-type accommodations on its territory would be refused such unless the Canadian Charter of Rights and Liberties was abrogated. Considering the enshrinement of the Charter to the Canadian Constitution, it is almost technically impossible to amend it. Consequently, the only altervative left to provinces determined to stop the erosion of their values, customs and traditions through religious-type accommodations is to separate from Canada. Hence, under given circumstances, the Charter becomes the tool of destruction of canadian unity.
It has become urgent and desirable that our political leaders immediately assume their responsibilities and take the Charter out of the hands of judges, lawyers and religious institutions. A democracy cannot survive in the absence of gestures of this nature.
We hope that you will give this notice the importance it deserves and will add the subject to your political agenda in the next federal elections if this problematic issue is not yet solved.
Bernard Thompson and Andr Drouin
c.c. Mr. Sthane Dion
Mr. Gilles Duceppe
Mr. Jack Layton
Mrs. Diane Finlay
Mrs. Jos Verner
Mr. Jean Charest
Mrs. Pauline Marois
Mr. Mario Dumont
Mrs. Yolande James
Mrs. Michelle Courchesne