The official celebrations of Quebec City’s 400th Anniversary are now underway. This is surely one of the only birthday parties where conversing about religion and politics—not to mention other touchy topics like immigration and language laws—is perfectly acceptable.
By declining his invitation, the Pope decided against bringing to full boil Quebec’s debate over the role of religion. That said, if recent revelations are indicative, fodder for discussing Quebec identity won’t run out anytime soon.
On December 19th, a statistical analysis of interventions at the Bouchard-Taylor Commission revealed that Montreal participants exhibited no more tolerance of religious and ethnic diversity than the rest of Quebec. This upsets the popular narrative that reasonable accommodation issues were provoked by rural Quebecois. (We already knew that many of the high profile disputes—Sikh ceremonial daggers in schools, gym-goers scandalizing a neighbouring synagogue, Muslims denied prayer space at McGill, etc.—erupted in supposedly more cosmopolitan Montreal.)
But the major analysis of the Quebec situation begins March 31st, when sociologist Gérard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor present their recommendations to Premier Jean Charest. Given the rock star profile this commission has received, their findings will be widely reported. Bouchard-Taylor will offer the province a moment of reflection on its spiritual heritage—an appropriate gift for the quadricentenary of its capital.
To provide some background this issue, Salt + Light’s recent Catholic Focus on reasonable accommodation is now streaming online
. We learn that this debate has many implications for Catholics—and not just those in Quebec.