In my March 17 column, I argued that the Parti Québécois (PQ) government’s proposed Charter of Quebec Values, which sought to ban public sector workers – from government bureaucrats to police and from daycare workers to doctors – from wearing clothing or symbols that signify their religious beliefs (including headgear such as kippot, hijabs and turbans, and jewelry such as necklaces with a noticeable Magen David or cross) was perhaps the main issue of Quebec’s provincial election on April 7.
The election was “very much about values,” I wrote, “and it remains to be seen which values Quebecers will choose.”
I wrote that column on March 7. A couple of days later – with then-premier Pauline Marois at his side – media baron Pierre Karl Péladeau declared his candidacy for the PQ and, with a now-famously raised fist, he made Quebec separation the ballot box question.
Everything changed in that moment. Clearly, the vast majority of the Quebec electorate had no interest in holding another divisive referendum on separation. While the charter remained an issue – and the PQ tried in vain to re-establish it as the main issue, thinking it was the key to their potential victory – it was Quebec separation that ruled the election. Marois called the election because polls indicated she could use the charter to turn her minority government into a majority. Instead, Quebecers, in their wisdom, handed the PQ a most humiliating defeat.
Watching the election results come in on April 7, one could almost hear all of Canada breathe a collective sigh of relief.
And, with their defeat, the PQ’s Charter of Quebec Values was dead in the water.
But, the day after the election, Philippe Couillard, the Quebec Liberal leader and premier-designate, said his government would bring in its own charter of secular values, affecting a more limited range of public sector officials in “positions of authority.” While the range of those positions was not defined, it would apparently not include most bureaucrats, doctors, nurses, teachers and daycare workers.
But, still, the question must be asked. Why is there a need for a solution to a problem that does not exist? Couillard’s new government should take the same position as the federal government and the other nine provinces and just let the issue go.
Chabad Student Network
A fire, April 2, caused extensive damage to the home of Rabbi Chaim and Yocheved Boyarsky and their five children. The Boyarskys are co-directors of the Rohr Chabad Student Network (CSN), whose programs for students at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University complement those of Hillel Ottawa: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
Thankfully, no one was injured in the electrical fire, but the building, which also serves as CSN headquarters, will be out of commission for several months.
The Jewish Federation of Ottawa established a fund to assist CSN with its Passover programming.
This is a very busy time on the Jewish calendar. Although this issue of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin comes out after Passover, we went to press a week earlier than usual because of the holiday closures.
By the time you read this column, Passover will have passed (pardon the pun) and two solemn days – Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on April 27-28 and Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Remembrance Day) on May 4-5 – will be upon us. The eves of both days will be marked by solemn ceremonies and programs at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre at 7 pm.
And then, the sadness of Yom Hazikaron will change to the joyousness of Yom Ha’Atzmaut on May 5-6 as we celebrate the 66th anniversary of Israel’s Declaration of Independence and the birth of the modern state.
The community will celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut with two major events on May 6. A flag-raising ceremony at Marion Dewar Square in front of Ottawa City Hall at 12:30 pm and a huge community celebration at the Hellenic Meeting & Reception Centre, 1315 Prince of Wales Drive, next to Temple Israel, beginning at 5 pm. I’ll see you all there.