Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mayor Caroline St-Hilaire and the debasing of fundamental liberties

Mayor Caroline St-Hilaire
Only in an environment where fundamental liberties like freedom of expression have been so demeaned for so long could the mayor of Longueuil matter-of-factly decry the fact that Bill 101 doesn't prohibit an elected official from speaking English at a public meeting.

Mayor Caroline St-Hilaire says: "The charter [of the French Language] says we have the right to express ourselves in French. It doesn't say he can't express himself in English. That's the rub."

St-Hilaire must look at other areas of the language law and think, 'If Bill 101 prohibits English on commercial billboards or street signs in most Quebec cities, why isn't it also illegal to speak English at a council meeting? The law seems inconsistent.'

The debasing of our Western ideals of human rights must be acknowledged as a legacy of the Charter of the French Language no less important than its purported successes. A society where statements like St-Hilaire's are made without controversy will think it perfectly normal to ban other things like, say, kippahs and hijabs. Let's recall that a majority did support banning these in 2013. The fact that the bill didn't become law was the result of a tactical error by the Parti Québécois -- not because of a surge interest in Quebec in the works of John Stuart Mill.

The intolerance at the core of St-Hilaire's statement may, sadly, be in our past, present, and future.

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