Topless protest causes uproar inside Quebec legislature


Jacques Boissinot/CP

QUEBEC – A topless protest against Parti Quebecois identity politics erupted inside the Quebec legislature in a screaming, semi-nude act of defiance that derailed the daily question period Tuesday.

Women began removing their clothes while Premier Pauline Marois was answering a question.

The premier had been asked about a payroll tax and had just uttered the words, “(We’re) taking action now,” when shouts erupted in the gallery and everyone’s eyes, including the premier’s, drifted upward.

As the protesters disrobed, they chanted a slogan against the presence of the crucifix in the chamber: “Crucifix, decalisse,” they repeated in a crude, sacrilegious Quebecois expression loosely translatable as, “Crucifix, get the hell out of here.”

The demonstration was quelled, as numerous security guards pulled a trio of still-half-naked protesters away from the chamber and struggled to dress them.

The whole affair was in reaction to the Parti Quebecois’ uneven approach to state secularism, which has been called hypocritical by its detractors.

The PQ’s proposal would leave the Christian symbol looming above the chamber where Quebec’s laws are passed; Christmas trees would remain in public offices; and the giant cross would stay on the public land above Montreal’s Mount Royal.

That’s because those Christian symbols are part of Quebec’s heritage, the PQ says.

However, lower-level employees of the state would be forced to remove their hijabs, turbans, yarmulkes, and larger-than-average Christian necklaces.

The plan is unlikely to pass the legislature in its current form. That means it could either be watered down, or preserved for use in the PQ’s next election platform.

The group “Femen Quebec” claimed reponsibility for the bare-breasted brouhaha.

“(We’re) an organization of artists-activists fighting for democracy, for the affirmation of a Quebec identity influenced by cultural diversity, for the liberation of women from contemporary aesthetic dogma and for better communication between men and women,” said a Facebook page.

It also dismissed the idea that the national assembly cross was integral to the Quebecois identity.

It noted that the crucifix was only placed there under the Duplessis regime after 1936, as a symbol of the pact between his now-defunct Union Nationale party and the church.

“(This) crucifix stems from the Great Darkness,” the group said, employing a term commonly used to describe Maurice Duplessis’ pre-Quiet Revolution Quebec.

“(It’s) a painful memory, especially for women. That renewal of the pact between the church and the state is not at all a heritage worth honouring. No to a government that accepts the presence of religion at its bosom. Yes to state secularism!”

A member of the group said in an interview that the three women were swiftly removed from the building, and were warned that they could be charged with disturbing the peace.

The woman, Xenia Chernyshova, said the group doesn’t have a position on the PQ’s values charter but opposes the plan to favour Christian iconography.

-With files by Alexander Panetta and Sidhartha Banerjee


Topless protest causes uproar inside Quebec legislature

  1. Why does QC get to have all the fun then?

  2. Got this protest the publicity they wanted….and it’s religion that bans breasts to begin with.

    The ‘gods’ don’t like lady parts.

  3. Some people simply have too much free time on their hands.

    • It’s a democracy.

  4. Two issues I want to
    address: 1) Secular western nations will need to create a
    Charter of Moral RESPONSIBILITIES of Citizens. and
    2) Canadian citizens that came from non-western cultures embody a
    complicated intertwining of religion and culture. Teasing these apart
    (true religious doctrine from the cultural interpretation) is ESSENTIAL to any
    intelligent discussion on creating a secular state.

    1) 25% of
    Canadians claim to “not belong to any religious affiliation”.
    Secularism appears not to be unreasonable. But what DID
    religion-in-government provide to us in the past? Morals and
    values. Legislation and even the Charter of Cdn Rights and Freedoms do
    not adequately cover this. Why? Because morals imply ethical
    responsibility. Religion used to do that job. Not anymore.
    Western countries now have a responsibility to replace this absence of
    morals. Don’t kid yourself: morals are not innate. Any
    residual moral behaviour of citizens today is RESIDUAL indoctrination
    (childhood Sunday school, etc.). There are young people today in North
    America who are truly morally ignorant. Some of them have adopted values
    and morals from the media, movies and video games. These are often the
    impoverished, neglected “youth-at-risk”. Others have proposed,
    most notably the honourable Dalai lama, that: Western nations need a
    ‘Moral Code of Conduct’ to balance the rights and freedoms we have. All
    the folks debating this issue today HAVE MORALS BASED ON RELIGION from their
    past. Future generations will no longer be exposed to these!

    2) Hijab-wearing
    women stand out in the news protesting Quebec’s new proposed
    legislation. This is the head and body wrap, not the veil. Almost
    all Canadians know that this clothing is associated with Islam. What many
    don’t know is that the hijab is actually a cultural interpretation of
    Islam. The religion does not require this attire. Islam requires
    that there be sexual modesty between men and women. However, this
    particular culture’s INTERPRETATION of Islam puts ALL the responsibility for
    this on “the woman”. This culture holds values/morals that
    imply that a woman who does not wear the hijab is eliciting the sexual arousal
    of men, and any harm that comes to this woman IS HER OWN FAULT! This so
    blatantly flies in the face of women’s rights to freedom from sexual assault
    and oppression. To me, every hijab-wearing woman I see is undermining my
    rights as a woman in Canada because it creates subtle EXPECTATIONS, in a
    subversive way. More and more men from this culture are rejecting or
    denying services to any Canadian woman who does not conform to wearing the

    summarize: I believe the Quebec government’s proposed legislation has not
    successfully “teased-apart” the secular intent from the
    intertwined cultural component. It is almost as if they wanted to address
    the cultural issue but cloaked it in a religious issue. To me, the
    unpalateable, “un-Canadian” task of “acknowledging our vast
    ideological differences” (Western versus non-Western) has to be
    done. Three things have to occur: 1. full secularism,
    2. creation of a Canadian Code of Moral Conduct (basic things – not
    “hot-button” issues – like: be kind to others, do not wish ill
    on your neighbour, do not take financial advantage of uneducated people,
    “curb the greed”) by having the government of the day requesting a
    committee of Academic theologians representing ALL the religions in Canada
    draft something. and 3. acknowledging ethnic diversity and cultural
    backgrounds WHILE abandoning “mutli-culturalism” as we know it.
    Canada is a Western nation. Period. Canadians who came from
    cultures that are anti-western will have to think hard about what they can do
    to contribute to this western nation, not what they can do to subvert it.

    • a) Whose morals are supposed to be in this charter?

      b) ‘a complicated intertwining of religion and culture’ is true of western society as well.

      c) Religion isn’t required in order to have morals.

      d) Leave women’s clothing alone.

      e) Canada is, and always has been, multi-cultural.

      • well,
        a) a ‘melange’ of ALL the BASIC humanity promoting morals of ALL the faiths representing ALL the citizens of Canada. Like the examples I gave.
        b) yes, but the “tannenbaum”, for example is a pagan German tradition. The crucifix is not.
        c) exactly. We can have a secular state with a Moral code INSPIRED by all the faiths, BUT with a pro-democracy, pro-Western spin
        d) no, not when men at driving schools refuse to accept a woman teacher because she is not wearing a hijab; not when one woman causes an entire exercise class to take place with cloaked windows so that the men outside can’t see her un-hijabed; not when my friend arrives at a London airport and is interrogated by a hijab-clothed customs official demanding proof that her daughter is hers, since their last names were different, and demanding to know WHY my friend is no longer married to her husband. No kidding. This happened in July 2013. My very open, “apologetic Cdn” friend said she felt like her answers to these intimidations would determine whether or not she would be permitted to enter the UK for a trip with her daughter.
        e) yes, and always will be. But our values are western, and for me, that implies an ever-vigilant pro-women’s rights stance. We have worked MUCH too hard these past 40 years to let it backslide now as other cultures who are opposed to women’s rights and freedoms are more demanding and prevalent in Canada.

        • ‘Do unto others’ occurs in all religions…..there, that’s settled.

          Why would we have pagan traditions? That is also religion.

          I don’t want ANY moral code inspired by religion. Religion poisons everything.

          I have no idea why UK customs would react like that….report him.

          My values are universal.

        • One thing I have to concede to non-Western cultures: our current half-secular, half-immoral Western behaviour, as represented by a barely-out-of-her-teens Myley Cyrus performing fellatio on a sledge hammer while poised naked on a wrecking ball with back arched to facilitate penetration (no, my DESCRIPTION of what I saw is not over the top – the ACT, accessible to ALL young girls and boys was over the top) and the recent American Housing Loan scandals (with the ever-increasing interest rates for these impoverished, often illiterate Americans) is despicable. Islam is the religion of most of the anti-Western cultures in the world. Islam has strict sexual and greed restricting “laws”. These are certainly worth consideration for our required Charter of Moral Responsibilities. I am mortified to think that non-Western countries think I represent the “Myley” s and Wall Street when I defend Western Culture. I don’t, but I want a Moral Code for Canada that would make me prouder to be Canadian. By the way, if you vote me in as Prime Minister next term, I would make sexual portrayal/ posing of all young men and women under the age of 25 illegal, and prostitution would be legal over the age of 25 with designated safe houses for these.
          Okay, I need to get a job soon. My line of credit has stretched to capacity (not E.I. qualified) and I am thinking way too much about politics these days.

          • It’s affecting your judgement.

  5. Film at 11:00.

  6. I am just “one person’s opinion”. I haven’t had any debates on the issue of a Moral Code of Responsibilities for Canada. There are lots of facts/data that I am missing. But, it seems to me that much of our young people’s values and morals (what is acceptable in society) comes from music videos, video gaming, and their observations of the behaviour of the marketing business. The lucky young people have parents to discuss their observations with. Some don’t. These are the ones, who in the absence of any balancing morals in the real world, extend their virtual “shoot-to-kill” games to the street. I’m not talking about gangs, just young people who fail to disconnect the “game” from the real world. I believe that if a country has a “moral” code that was drilled into the kids at school, just like the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was for me when it first came out, and if this moral code had wording like: “human life is precious; we do not kill other people for sport” (okay, there are definitely better words than this), it may prevent some of the senseless killings going on (like the three “bored” teens shooting Chris Laing earlier this year in the U.S.A.).
    While I am personally not religious, I am a bit scared of the idea of a secular government without some replacement moral code. I believe that all religions have some valuable elements that legislation/laws just can’t cover.

    • Sorry, got his name wrong. Out of respect for the young man and his family, I post yet one more time: Christopher Lane, 22 year old young man from Australia was in the USA on a baseball scholarship.

  7. Reality check… what is wrong with us? Is a cross really that big of a deal? How about you protest to abolish world hunger… something meaningful. There is also nothing wrong with a turban or hat as long as we can identify the person (see the face and eyes). If you can not adapt to this then best of luck…. Canada is not for you. Sacred knifes? Sorry but public safety first so… not at work. Hunters don’t bring their guns to work and to some hunting IS their religion. Hmmm isn’t it legal to go topless in Canada? By the way, dear female activists, bless you for showing the goods (pun intended) but can you please get some better looking volunteers?

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