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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

The world is burning and the CAQ is tone deaf

October 3 may seem like a long way away, but perhaps it’s time to start thinking about voting in a new party to govern Quebec — one that is not xenophobic, transphobic and holds itself back from trampling the rights of anglophones in the name of protecting of French culture.

The current power landscape just isn’t working for all Quebecers. To be frank, some of the CAQ’s policies are insensitive at best and inhumane at worst.

We all know how horrible Bill 21 made things for Fatemeh Anvari, the Chelsea teacher removed from her Grade 3 class for wearing a hijab. Anvari didn’t get any support from the CAQ — nobody called her, nobody asked her and even our own MNA Robert Bussière remained silent on the issue for months. And a good teacher was banned from her class.

When Bill 96 is adopted, life will get more challenging for English-speaking Quebecers. Longtime Wakefielders like Andrew Salkeld and popular village poet Phil Cohen – who have called the Hills home for decades – will not have access to English services because they are not considered “historic anglophones.” The Quebec Community Groups Network estimates that anywhere from three to five hundred thousand English-speaking Quebecers would be cast aside with Bill 96. The bill even allows government bureaucrats to seize a person’s work phone to snoop in and make sure they are communicating in French.

And last week, the party announced that it wouldn’t allow any Ukrainian refugees to attend school in English under Bill 101. CAQ spokesperson Stéphane Mougeot told the Low Down that government officials could make “exceptions if necessary” and that the party’s main objective is “to welcome and aid families fleeing from a Ukrainian war zone.” If that’s true, then shouldn’t Quebec provide the smoothest transition possible for those whose lives have been decimated by war? While the percentage of English-speaking Ukrainians is low, it is much higher among youth and teenagers who live in bigger cities. Shell-shocked kids shouldn’t be expected to adapt to a new country, culture, school and a new language all at once.

The world is burning and Quebec’s tone-deaf and stubborn political response to such a tragic and horrifying humanitarian crisis is inhumane.

And when it comes to transgender rights in Quebec, the CAQ is entirely out of touch. Bill 2 is a direct assault on the rights and freedoms of transgender individuals, as it would force them to undergo gender reaffirming surgery – a forced medical procedure that could render a patient infertile – before making a sex change on any official documents.

It’s heartbreaking and disappointing to see discriminatory policies like this have any support in Quebec. But it’s not surprising either.

Protecting French culture is essential in this province, and the big-picture reasoning behind Bills 21 (separating church and state) and 96 (maintaining French as the official language of Quebec) is well understood. But as important as protecting Francophone culture is, it should not come at the expense of the rights of minority communities in Quebec.

The CAQ has driven a wedge between the French and English in this province with Bill 96. It has discriminated against Muslim women with Bill 21 and has shown war-torn refugees little compassion with Bill 101. And the party has shown with Bill 2 that it has no empathy for the transgender community.

Is this the Quebec you always imagined?

Maybe Oct. 3 can’t come soon enough.


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