The Quebec turban ban: What doesn’t get said

Paul Wells on multiculturalism and separation of church and state

by Paul Wells

Ryan Remiorz/CP

I don’t agree with the Quebec Soccer Federation’s ban on kids wearing turbans, but there are a few aspects to the debate — to the limited extent there is a debate, as opposed to a dialogue of the deaf — that are really obvious to me but that I’m not hearing from either the supporters or the opponents of the turban ban. Let me try to make two quick points.

Multiculturalism. Who could be against it? It means “many cultures.” That’s so beautiful. But here’s the thing. The longer you study political science in Quebec, and the better the school you attended, the more deeply you believe — because you have been told this hundreds of times; as often as you have been told a hammer will fall if you drop it — that Pierre Trudeau adopted official multiculturalism as a policy for one reason: to dilute the “two founding nations” theory of Canada as an essentially equal partnership of English and French Canadians. The more educated you are in Quebec, the likelier you are to regard any reference to multiculturalism as a direct attack on the notion of an autonomous, self-governing and francophone Quebec, masterminded by Trudeau, who is essentially regarded as a race traitor.

I know this argument will be dismissed as ridiculous by most of my readers, and viewed as so obvious it’s hardly worth stating by a few others. I’m running around a bit today and don’t have dynamite documentation for this theory to show you, but here are a couple of references to a 1997 book by Kenneth McRoberts, Misconceiving Canada, that I would put on my short list of readings for my imaginary half-term course on Iconoclastic Readings in Canadian Political Science.

The upshot is that when an urbane, serious fellow like Joseph Facal, who was born in Uruguay and moved to Quebec when he was 9 years old, thinks about the turban ban, he sees it the way most of its defenders do: as a perfectly reasonable re-affirmation of common Quebec values that would never be questioned except by English Canadians looking for a pretext to shaft Quebec. It makes him crazy.

Laïcisme. It’s like those French have a different word for everything, as Steve Martin used to say. In English Canada, we grow up with a fairly American notion of “separation of church and state,” which is essentially liberal and laissez-faire: let people dress, worship, congregate and speak as they like. The state’s role is to endorse none of these doctrines, but it is no skin off the state’s nose if those doctrines flourish on their own dime and time. In the French Republic, it’s a rather narrower concept: not only does the state not endorse a creed, there is a general belief that no creed must display itself ostentatiously in public.

There’s a lot of room for nuance on the details of this notion. But it helps explain why resistance to hijabs, turbans, kirpans and so on, normally associated with the political right in other provinces, is often found on the political left in Quebec. The last time women in veils were common sights in France and Quebec, the religion enforcing the doctrine was Catholicism and its opponents were on the left.

I point this out mostly to shine a light. I’m very much an anglo-saxon on these questions. I do not believe that in most cases, somebody walking down the street is assaulting me, or my sense of community, by dressing differently. But I can’t help pointing something else out. Very similar debates are quite recent in English Canada: recall the uproar over Mounties wearing turbans in the late 1980s. And you probably won’t recall, but I certainly do, that when the question of ceremonial Sikh daggers in Quebec’s National Assembly was a big debate a few years ago, this government — Stephen Harper’s government — kept its head down for a few days before deciding to support Sikhs over Quebec politicians. Now that they’ve decided which side their electoral bread is buttered on, the Harper government now wastes no time endorsing a very Trudeauvian notion of multiculturalism, even at the cost of another once-cherished Conservative notion, provincial autonomy. It is simply inconceivable to me that Jason Kenney would have supported turbans on soccer fields in, say, 1998. So attitudes change. This blogger, who expected in 2011 that it would take “a majority government” to get rid of official multiculturalism, will be disappointed.




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The Quebec turban ban: What doesn’t get said

  1. You’re reading far too much into this. It has nothing to do with politics, or history, or Trudeau, or the state of the Shleiswig-Holstein Question. It’s very simple. Young Sikh boys cannot play soccer. What did they do to deserve this? Nothing. It’s racism and bigotry, pure and simple

    • There may be a ring of truth in BOTH of what you and Mr. Wells have to say, and there’s no reason to assume your comments are contradictory.

    • It could be, perhaps, that there is a reason why it is Quebec in particular that seems prone to these manifestations of racism and bigotry. It could be, perhaps, that there are specific cultural and historical backgrounds that lead to these incidents in Quebec and pretty much Quebec alone. It could be that thinking about those reasons, and examining the assumptions and worldview of the people whose behavior you would seek to change might be useful.
      Or you can just yell “racist.” I assume much more progress will be made that way.

      • how many Quebeckers wanted to lock up the Japanese and the Italians during WWII, how many Quebeckers pushed to have resedential scools for native children ? How many French speaking clubs in Quebec posted no Jews allowed ? Be careful when you live in a glass house not to throw stones.

        Pretty much Quebec alone you say ?

        • Any examples from this century?

          • you mean in the last 12 1/2 years, so if something hasn’t happened in the past decade or so its irrelevant, nice reply but empty words.

          • No, my point is that the rest of the country is well on its way to moving past these kinds of attitudes. Quebec is still struggling with them (or not struggling with them, as the case may be).

          • if thats your point you wrote something different when you said ”pretty much Quebec alone”, I am not saying Quebec doesn’t have racism or prejudice, but to make the blanket statement that the ROC doesn’t and can teach Quebec is a bit rich

          • I wrote what I meant. There were other words in that sentence, and other sentences in that post. “These manifestations” is a limiting term to indicate about a particular kind of incident that is specific to Quebec, not that racism is particular to Quebec.

          • my examples all happened during my lifetime btw

        • There’s long been a history of anti-Semitism in Quebec and during World War Two, with the complicity of the Canadian government, Quebec targeted Jehovah’s Witnesses who were despised by the Catholic Church. Check out William Kaplan, State and Salvation. And undeniably, there has been horrendous racism in other parts of Canada including in BC toward Asian-Canadians.

          • Yes, that long Anti-semite tradition that saw the National Assembly being the first Parliament in Commonwealth to allow a Jewish man to be counted as one of its elected members, after he got elected three times, way back in the 19th century?

        • I don’t mean to be antagonistic but what you’re saying is fairly obvious, isn’t it? I mean, there isn’t any single group of people on this planet who can reliably prove that their ancestors were never bigoted. But should that stop us from being able to differentiate between entities in the present day? I mean, sure, at some point, all the species of birds on the planet today had common ancestors but today, they are different and some (and I know this will bother you) are better able to flourish and some will consequently decline and become extinct. I have nothing against Quebec or its peoples but its pseudotolerant culture which attacks every variation other than that which fits its narrow confines of acceptability creates a stark contrast against the general backdrop of the present day Canadian mindset. Furthermore, present day comparisons enable such comparisons to remain relevant and encourage us to continue learning from situations such as these. If everyone were to maintain a constant focus on the past actions, our children and indeed even we would not be able to shake off the crimes of our forefathers and embrace better perspectives. Or would you rather be called names for everything your great great great grandfather/mother did? What matters is, based on our awareness of past events, are we able to be become better people and thereby create better societies today. Another group’s inexcusable actions in the past are no defense for inexcusable actions in the present. My 2 cents.

      • Manitoba has its racist streak too, I imagine it’s prevalent in all corners of our country.

        • My point wasn’t that there isn’t racism elsewhere, but that the particular kind of racism you see coming out of Quebec (i.e. institutionally endorsed and defended by prominent public figures) is these days pretty much unique to Quebec, and that there are historic and cultural reasons for that. Pauline Marois might be many things, but she isn’t some ignorant hillbilly, and lecturing her and her ilk as such isn’t really going to get you far.

          • Many prominent figures will use code words and deflection to hide their views. It’s been pointed out that many in Quebec are saying “we are just adhering to FIFA rules as written barring an official ruling”.

          • I apologize, but I have no idea what point you’re trying to make here.

          • I accept your apology,

          • Nothing racist or bigoted about calling all Quebecers racist and bigoted, I guess; it,s the one exception to the generalization rule that is allowed, just like in French grammar!

          • I’m pretty sure the point of MarkLafue’s original post – in response to Matt Rose saying the issue amounted to nothing more than racism and bigotry – was that simply calling Quebecers racist and bigoted isn’t very helpful.

          • Not sure that is addressed to me, since that isn’t what I said, nor is it what I believe. Since you mention grammar, I would suggest you brush up on yours, and read what I wrote again.

          • You’re a racist against the French!

      • Has anybody thought about the inferiority complex?

    • Yes because they are a race and not a religion… Anti racism once again proving to be slightly racist with it’s arrogance and stupidity… It’s a anti-religious law yes, and it applies to everyone. If you’re religion bans you from taking a hat off, then move to another province. Hardly racist. As a white male I could very well be a Sikh.

  2. And the corollary is that nobody in Quebec, least of all studying political science in its best schools, has ever heard of European history from 1890 to 1950. Dreyfuss? Action nationale? Vichy? No no, let’s just cut straight from the Declaration of the Rights of Man to 1960. Because, you know, Western history is so hard, especially when you’re from a complete intellectual backwater and want to dress up and pretend you actually grew up in the 7e.

  3. Interesting argument but at least the question of laicity misses the reality in France. While the French (of which I am one) condemn the display of overt symbols of other religions, Christmas decorations on city halls, wearing crosses, etc., are not only tolerated by defended on the basis of culture. If laicity was actually enforced on a completely neutral basis, I may support it. But it is not in France and is not in Quebec.

    I leave to others to comment on multiculturalism. I would simply point out that there are at least three founding nations (depending on how one wishes to count First Nations and Inuit). Unfortunately, too many in Quebec forget our First Nations and think that they are foreigners too. Remember 1990 when people told the Mohawk to go home to where they come from. A nationalism that is focused solely on myth and ignores reality is dangerous.

  4. The ‘west’ has always claimed belief in the ‘separation of church and state’, we just don’t practice it.

  5. Hold on there, “race traitor” is a very powerful term. If people in Quebec truly consider Pierre Trudeau a “race traitor”, and truly consider multiculturalism as a threat to the notion of an autonomous, self-governing and francophone Quebec, doesn’t that imply that the sovereignty movement is >by definitionby definition< Quebec nationalism is about establishing a racist nation-state? If so, we have a big problem on our hands.

    The term "race traitor" is a pejorative reference to a person who is perceived as supporting attitudes or positions thought to be against the interests or well-being of their own race. Race is a classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, or social affiliation.

    Multiculturalism relates to communities containing multiple cultures. The definition of race given above (stolen from Wikipedia) includes culture as one of the means of classifying races.

    There is staunch opposition to multiculturalism in Quebec. But is it racist? Or is it cultural chauvinism, a flip of Henry Ford, in which Quebec society allows for people to be of any color of skin as long as the culture of that person is Quebecois? Many people will say the latter, and take comfort that cultural chauvinism isn't a heinous.

    But they'd be wrong.

    Again, race includes culture as a means of classification.

    Given that definition, if, by law or regulation, a group is specifically excluded because of a cultural classification, then yes, that law or regulation is racist. If a group is opposed to multiculturalism because it is considered a threat to the cultural classification of a political unit, then yes, that group is racist.

    If a movement is based on cultural chauvinism, and the goal of that movement is to create a nation-state that has that cultural chauvinism as is founding principle, then yes, we have a big problem. The founding principle of sovereignty movement isn't about 'nous', it's about excluding 'autre'.

    • At this point the QC government is not commenting on the issue of the turban. It is commenting on the Canadian federation’s decision to ban the Quebec federation, excluding the QC federation and players from participation or hosting of international competitions, tournaments or matches. IMO, the QC-PQ politicians feel they cannot defend the reason given (safety) for the turban ban.
      The Canadian Federation’s right to ban Quebec players from international competitions is not contested anywhere in Canada as far as I know : it’s not OK to ban players because they wants to wear a turban but it’s OK to ban players because of their province of residence.
      As for the race traitor, this is not new. There is always a group of fierce ‘independandistes’ to remind people that Pierre Trudeau’s middle name was Elliott or that Charest’s name on his baptismal certificate is John James = they’re not ‘pure wool’. Recently a regular commenter here has written to me that persons with French names cannot represent her because the French don’t have Canadian values, they have Quebec values. She is not the only one in the country to feel that way.

      • It seems pretty clear to me that the Quebec soccer federation has deliberately taken aim at “autre” children over the past several years, with their serious actions agains girls in hijabs and now boys in head scarves. The claim that these items are dangerous seems disingenuous, and merely a convenient excuse to keep “nous” children from having to play with “autre” children. When racism rears its ugly head it is only right that the federal governing body do what it did, which is to stand up for the rights of ALL children in Quebec to play the sport, regardless of their not being of the “correct” descent. They have not forced Quebec to change the ruling within the province unless they want to play against teams from other provinces. I’m glad that someone is standing up for minority children in Quebec, I’m just sad that it isn’t the Quebec federation itself.

  6. Mr. Wells: I encourage you
    (and your readers) to follow through on your logic. Yes, official recognition
    of multiculturalism runs counter to the two-nations view of Canada. But, it’s a fundamental fact that Canada is multicultural, whether or not French Canadian intellectuals
    want to acknowledge that fact or not. It was multicultural back in the 60s when
    it got short shrift from the two-nations crowd who were keen to impose their
    Bilingual/Bicultural view on the country. However, today, English Canada is
    much better at recognizing the multicultural fact, mostly because it is harder
    to gloss over now (Italians, Germans and Finns, for example, were not really visible minorities, and
    besides they had all fought on the other side in WW2), and non-British Canadians
    have a much stronger voice (and numbers) than they had in 1965.

    So, the logical conclusion is
    that the two-nation view of Canada, and all the special treatment for bilingualism that
    comes with it, is no longer defendable.
    There’s no way anyone in English Canada would support recognition of people
    with English or Scottish roots as a group deserving special attention as a “founding people,” nor
    would these ethnic groups look for special treatment. As for French Canadians,
    well, you can’t dance the “two-nations tango” if you don’t have a partner.

    As for “Laïcisme” in France, this reflects a 180-year long civil war between
    republicans and the “church and throne” crowd. Lots of nasty things were done
    on both sides, from the Reign of Terror and the Vendée to Dreyfus and Vichy. Paris is
    a beautiful city, but the French have a screwed-up history that nobody should
    imitate. The trauma of what the Catholic Church did in Quebec (in part reinforced by what happened in France) explains but does not justify the slavish imitation
    of the French approach by Quebecers.

    • One man’s “logical conclusion” is another’s ‘reduction ad absurdum”.

    • Then when do we get rid of the British crown as Canada’s head of state or does that not count as a British symbol anymore, or the Union Jack present on the provincial flag ods several provinces. You can’t have it both ways, if the two-nations concept is obsolete then so are all,l the British colonial symbols that remind us who is/was the dominant ethnic group .

    • ”So, the logical conclusion is
      that the two-nation view of Canada, and all the special treatment for bilingualism that
      comes with it, is no longer defendable.”

      Its not special treatment its equal treatment, if you want to tell 8 million citizens that their language is not equal to yours,why don’t you just come out and say so instead of playing on words and arguing that you have made some kind of great sacrifice ans ”special” treatment or concessions to an outdated theory.

  7. “. .. a perfectly reasonable re-affirmation of common Quebec values that would never be questioned except by English Canadians looking for a pretext to shaft Quebec. ”

    Nonsense. And parochial nonsense, besides.

    Reasonable sporting people all over the world, would and do regard the QSF ban on turbans for participants as noxious, exclusionary and beyond the pale.

    Turbans are commonplace in international sport, particularly in field hockey and cricket, for example.

    FIFA rules don’t explicitly permit the turban, but they certainly don’t exclude them, either. Rather, the spirit of the rules is meant to encourage tolerance. Which is the CSA’s position.

    At at time when FIFA and soccer leagues and national federations are grappling with racism all over the world, the QSF position is not likely to garner much, if any, support. Nor should it.

    It is not surprising to see Premier Marois displaying her insularity, framing this issue in terms of the Quebec-Canada socio-political conflict she so wants to reignite.

    It is surprising, and disappointing, to see you place it in that context.

  8. One wonders what Quebeckers will do when FIFA inevitably comes out in favour of letting the boys play with turbans as they did with girls and hijabs (another instance where Quebec was the last place in Canada to get on board). The notion of turbans being a tool of English Canada to mess with Quebec will lose a lot of weight once FIFA takes an explicit stance, won’t it?

    Unless Quebeckers are going to argue that English Canada has FIFA in their back pocket, and that Geneva is in on the conspiracy.

    I also wonder how the connection to multiculturalism squares with the fact that kids in the U.S. have been allowed to play with turbans on for well over a decade (and that apparently it’s not an issue in the U.K or Italy either).

    • I have never seen a US police officer or customs agent wearing a turban, have you ?

      • I’m not sure that I have.

        Then again, I’ve never seen a lot of things that exist, so that anecdotal fact is pretty irrelevant.

        Then again, there’s this.

        And also, this guy.

        Of course, this, is not at all uncommon in the U.K.

        ETA: I should perhaps add that, if your point is “The U.S. doesn’t let Sikh police officers wear turbans, so why should we?”, well, I don’t personally find that to be a compelling argument (even if it were universally true throughout the States, which apparently it is not). It’s also not a particularly germane argument given that U.S. Soccer DOES let Sikh kids play soccer in turbans.

  9. I would argue that there’s a difference between state-sponsored “official multiculturalism” and multiculturism as a natural national trait. As long as the state is promoting it and trying to enhance Canada’s multiculturalism, it’s not laissez-faire. Multiculturalism is simply a by-product of opportunity and freedom. It seems many people have that backwards. Multiculturalism doesn’t make a country better, building a better country makes it multicultural. In my view “official” multiculturalism is pointless. The places in this country that have had the least opportunity are the
    least multicultural. No government interference will change that. Just allow us freedom and opportunity and let multiculturalism happen.

    EDIT: Just to clarify, I’m trying to point out how you can be in favor of a natural multiculturalism and against a “Trudeauvian notion of multiculturalism”. In the former the state is indifferent towards multiculturalism in the other the state is interfering to support and enhance it.

  10. I’ve never played soccer (aka football). In the time and place that I
    grew up it was the “girls’ game” .. the guys played rugby. But, over
    the years, I’ve watched a lot of it .. from neighbourhood kids games to
    the highest level international events. And I don’t recall ever seeing
    anyone playing with head coverings of any kind .. even in the kind of
    weather where you might expect heads to be covered.
    I know there are Sikh kids who play in the local leagues (a few) and I
    can only assume that there Sikhs who play at a high level somewhere.
    Just because I’ve never seen something doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    But what puzzles me in all this is that soccer is a game that is played with
    the feet, trunk and head. It’s difficult to imagine a head covering being a
    “safety” issue but it’s not hard to imagine a head covering, with some
    manipulation, potentially becoming an unfair advantage in play.
    I haven’t seen that addressed as issue … so maybe it’s not an issue.
    Aside from that It seems that everything else is people being pedantic
    and silly. Quebec has no monopoly on that.

    • > but it’s not hard to imagine a head covering, with somemanipulation, potentially becoming an unfair advantage in play.

      If that really was a concern, I am certain FIFA would have already acknowledged this.

  11. As Martin Patriquin pointed out, it’s not a matter of culture or universaiity or racism or intolerence or whatever… it’s a matter of “safety.” Remember?

    Of course, that’bullsh*t. Everybody knows it’s bullsh*t. But that’s what the QSF is going with.

    If “multiculturalism” is “a direct attack on the notion of an autonomous, self-governing and francophone Quebec,” and that’s what’s behind this whole thing, then the QSF should have the stones to say so. If they want to be the bulwark protecting Quebecois culture from the foreign hordes, one turban-wearing soccer player at a time, they need to quit hiding behind ‘safety’. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t get into the socio-cultural implications of the turban ban a la Wells here when the organization doing the banning doesn’t even have the courage to state what this is all about. If they’re going to make some kind of bold stand to defend francophone culture, then do it. Otherwise, they come off like a bunch of gutless bigots.

  12. Not a bad argument. But multiculturalism is just a word. Do you think this country would be any different without it? We needed immigrants. They came. They adapted some things and kept others. Are there no Sikhs without Turbans in the U.S. Hello Pennsylvania dutch. Give it up for our Mormon brothers. Hasidic Jews in Queens, etc etc. Multiculturalism is just a word people use to create weird ideas about what Canada should be. If multiculturalism was THE problem, why is Canada not facing the same problems as France. The problem isn’t multiculturalism. It’s xenophobia and racism, with a peculiar French strand.

    • So if I go to India and try to eat a steak, the local population will not stop me because they are not xenophobic like the French? What about if I try to drink whisky in Saudi Arabia?

      • I ate steak at the rock bottom steak house in Mumbai during my visit there in Jan 2013 on HMCS REGINA

  13. Rename it t’urban.

  14. This comment was deleted.

    • Ohhh the irony. To stereotype all quebecers as racists and ant-semites, isn’t that a bit racist too?

      • In fact, QC was the first parliament in the British empire to have an elected Jew in its legislature.

  15. It’s also high time politicians grow a spine and start questioning the current status quo of maintaining the deluded policies of keeping the floodgates on immigration open, as well as maintaining the failed and un-ethical experiment of multiculturalism. The continued status quo of 250,000+ immigrants per year is unsustainable and harmful politically, economically, culturally and socially to Canada’s well-being.

  16. The notion that different cultures compete for the same resources on the same territory while “living peacefully” is rubbish. Multiculturalism is rubbish. Why? Open an ecology book. Humans are part of the animal kingdom like any other animal species. We are arrogant to think that we can ignore our natural instincts that are the result of more than at least 3.8 billion years of evolution on Earth. Stop making mental gymnastics.

  17. The turban ban is clearly racist, but multiculturalism is terrible the melting pot theory is far better imaging how crappy food would be if Asians didn’t assimilate peppers from the new world or Italians didn’t assimilate pasta from Asia and all the other blending of cultures that have take place over time. Multiculturalism is the denial of evolution cultures compete and the best parts of each culture survive. This is the same problem with Quebec they choose to attempt to freeze there culture to a certain point of time and they’ve stifled any growth.

    • You have a weird definition of multiculturalism, which at its core it is simply a principle of respect for differences.

      Ironically, the mechanism you’re describing above as preferred is in fact the principle of sharing, which is best achieved through mutual respect for people’s background, i.e. multiculturalism. Neither assimilation nor the melting pot concept are as good as a framework that says ‘be who you want to be and share respect for one another’.

      So what you are in fact supporting with your argument is multiculturalism.

  18. Attitudes do indeed change… it’s quite remarkable to what degree the notion of multiculturalism has become mainstream and found such broad acceptance in the RoC. It resonates; Trudeau didnt just get lucky. His vision of the country has outlasted that of many of his major critics. The fact that it was brought about by a FC Catholic, who’s still seen as a traitor for doing so in his home province by nationalist intellectuals, is quite an extraordinary bit of historical irony.

    • With the advancement of the notions surrounding rights, freedom and democracy, multiculturalism was the only rational outcome and in someways inevitable in a modern society.

      • Agreed, but it’s interesting to what an extraordinary degree both Trudeau and Pearson were ahead of the curve.

  19. If I go to Saudi Arabia and wear shorts, I would be put in jail. If I go to Iran and wear flip flops or shorts I would be put in jail, or at least not accepted.
    If you can’t follow the social customs in the society you live in, you won’t be accepted.

    • If you go to Saudi Arabia and wear shorts and get put in jail, then you’ve had your rights stripped from you in the most grevious of ways.

      And that’s the model you want to justify?

      Seriously guy, we either stand up for what’s right or we don’t.

      A man with integrity and self-respect doesn’t not justify the demeaning of children on the basis of their culture. That’s what you are doing when you make excuses on this specific topic.

      Let the kids play!

    • What Saudi Arabia and Iran do has nothing to do with Canada & Quebec. You cannot compare open and free democracies with repressive and intolerant theocracies.
      You are essentially admitting that the turban ban is xenophobic and intolerant. Do you want Quebec to be like Saudi Arabia? I sure dont.

  20. “In the French Republic, it’s a rather narrower concept: not only does the state not endorse a creed, there is a general belief that no creed must display itself ostentatiously in public.” Officially, yes, but that certainly isn’t applied equally to aspects of Christianity which remain well ingrained in French culture.

  21. Merci d’avoir jeté un nécessaire éclairage sur deux questions importantes et mal comprises qui influent profondément sur le “débat” entourant la question du turban sur les terrains de foot.

  22. I’m sorry. Let me get this straight. You’re basically offended by anyone who’s from Québec – just universally throw us all under the same bus. We must have all been raised the exact same way to believe in the exact same thing and therefore are completely intolerant of everything that is different. Right. I just – I get this everywhere I go – for some reason, people like to remind me of how much of a total crapshit I am and that i come from a total crapshit Province and that I should be ashamed of even admitting where I’m from and who I am – everywhere I go. Then I say this and people automatically jump to the “Oh now you’re just crying victim stage” where I – and next thing you know, I’m having to listen to people go on about if I don’t like the way people talk to me about how much they hate me — being French Canadian – and how much they despise where I’m from – Québec – then I should just pack my shit up and go home. I get this a lot. I get this from the lady who rents a room in my house. She keeps telling me that it’s nice I speak a second language but she doesn’t feel comfortable with me talking with it around her – I’m like, “English is my second language.” No. No. I’m sorry. I don’t take it too right when people trash other cultures either. And that, my sycophant, is why. M’kay? And I’m not the only one. I’m not the only Québecer who dare to leave home and experience what people in other minority groups do on a regular basis. That is the difference. You won’t relate because you’re not a minority.

    • This comment was deleted.

    • Yes. Thank you for deleting the comment. It’s not what I meant at all.

  23. People love to make excuses for their prejudice, but at the end of the day certain basic rights cannot be a matter of majority public opinion.

    Unless a cultural article represents a safety risk, an advantage on the field of play or in some way confuses players in terms of team differentiation, there is no ethical or moral justification for banning their cultural article.

    It really is that simple. You can make all the convoluted arguments you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is the only ethical stance a modern society can take in regards to citizen rights.

    I get that a lot of Quebecers are still suffering from an identity crisis of some sort, but that’s not for others to suffer on your behalf. You don’t get to assimilate and strike down others simply because you’re insecure about your own culture, and think it’s not going to cause division and hatred.

    At some point I hope a majority of Quebecers find the bravery to be secure enough in their own identity that such small minded and petty public figures cannot ascend to positions of authority so regularly.

    It would be a nice change of pace.

  24. “…I know this argument will be dismissed as ridiculous by most of my readers, and viewed as so obvious it’s hardly worth stating by a few others…”

    The argument is dimissed as ridiculous because it is.

    Noting that a population has been brain-washed doesn’t advance an argument of any kind in favour of this ban or any other like it. It is however damning evidence of why you can’t build a rational nation on the basis of cultural assimilation.

    So thanks for that I guess.

  25. It’s disappointing that everyone automatically put ‘religious rules’ above everything else. It seems the rules that religion puts forth trumps almost everything else. I don’t like the fact that most people will call you a bigot if you don’t support religious rules, as if there can be no debate about can we have a secularism in society.
    Seems to be that religions are the intolerant ones. Its their way or the highway.

    In the gazette they put a picture of a 6 year old boy wearing a turban, I love how nobody questions the fact that a 6 year old boy could be following a religion. 6 years old is too young to make an opinion on religion. He should be free from his parents’ religious dogma.

  26. Does this post qualify as (pure) laine-splaining?

  27. ‘ In English Canada, we grow up with a fairly American notion of
    “separation of church and state,” which is essentially liberal and
    laissez-faire: let people dress, worship, congregate and speak as they
    like. The state’s role is to endorse none of these doctrines, but it is
    no skin off the state’s nose if those doctrines flourish on their own
    dime and time. In the French Republic, it’s a rather narrower concept:
    not only does the state not endorse a creed, there is a general belief
    that no creed must display itself ostentatiously in public. ‘

    This doesn’t make any sense at all. The state used to be runned by the creed. You haven’t grown up here, have you? This sparks a whole other debate. To what extent the ‘ accomodements raisonables ‘ should go. This is all what it’s all about.

    ‘ The last time women in veils were common sights in France and Quebec,
    the religion enforcing the doctrine was Catholicism and its opponents
    were on the left. ‘

    This is true for France, but in Quebec, veiled muslims are Sikhs are a common sight in Montreal ( where the only Sikh community is located ), and the numbers didn’t bulge since the past 15 years. There are still as many… and most Sikh still don’t even speak neither english nor french. Closed communities pretty much like hassidic jews. This isn’t France and the gouvernement doesn’t wage war against *them*.

    As for the main debate, I’d be curious to know if Sikhs in india wear turbans while playing soccer.

    Oh, wait.

    They don’t.

  28. This is a weasely little apology for ethnic chauvinism and not much else. Also, it’s penned by an anglo who may have been trained as a cultural relativist and who is not prepared to call a spade a spade.
    The reference to anti-clericalism in France is overstated. France ONCE had forced secularism on its streets, but that was 150 years ago. France preaches secularism to the people, but enforces it only in what are called “republican schools,” i.e., the State public education system. The banning of the full-body burka is more a security issue, even when it’s wrapped in the phrase “republican values,” which it is.

    Anti-clericalism in Quebec is a borrowing and an adaptation and has little to do with what obtains in France, which, by the way, had a bloody revolution against the Church hierarchy at one time — a factor which the writer of this piece must take into account.

    In Quebec, laicisme was a mechanism that modernist intellectuals used to simply de-certify the all-powerful RC church in their province. It is fixed in time and is not ‘philosophical’ at all.

    Today, it has morphed into anti-Diversity, which is a whole other ball of wax. It’s a fig leaf, not a ‘reason’. “Diversity’ in Quebec does not mean “the presence of other cultures” it means “how powerful the English-speaking immigrants are, and how many of them are bothering our nurses, doctors, and bus drivers with requests for help in English.”

    True, Quebecois had a reason to suspect the “multicultural” mantra of Trudeau– a good one. However, today’s version of that suspicion is rather sinister.

  29. The French laicïsm is not necessarily a neutral, rational principle at its roots. I believe it’s to some extent to maintain ‘our’ (French civil) values, or at least something close to them. After all in their current Bill 14 the PQ is adding a charter of Values whereby it would be forbidden for public servants to display religious symbols on their persons, including hijabs, etc, except for the cross in the Nation Assembly chamber which is held to be a symbol of Québecois traditions rather than religion. So I think that the motives behind the French laïcisme are themselves a compromise between right wing naturalists and progressives. As a matter of fact it is not pointed out enough that Québecois nationalism, which had very conservative roots was overlain with progressivism in the 50′s and 60′s, remains a coalition between these positions often even within individuals.

  30. “no creed must display itself ostentatiously in public.” This is a very important point that I think should be applied everywhere. In Quebec they used to have crucifixes everywhere and were totally dominated by the church. They know what they are talking about.

  31. Wells, there is an argument that you’ve missed, and I believe you’ve missed it because most pundits and adults in North America know very little about soccer, all they know is that it’s a bunch of players kicking a ball on a field. The fact is, players play the ball with their heads in soccer. So this will have an affect on the game itself.

    All you people might not care about sports much, but the fact is, sports have rules, and a sport like soccer that has been around for centuries has longstanding rules that have been around for centuries. Changing the rules changes the game.

    With this change, goals like this will become easier:
    http://www.101greatgoals.com/gvideos/gif-shane-longs-superb-header-v-england/

    Good soccer players know how to aim when they direct the ball with their head, they also know how to head the ball softly or hard, they know how to twist the head to redirect the ball with spin, they know how to jerk the head to redirect the ball with force. In that link above, the first player is intentionally crossing the ball for his teammate to head it, and his teammate is actually aiming for the upper corner of the net with his header.

    An ideal head for a header would have some traction to be able to aim
    better. The right fabric could provide that traction. That is why a table tennis racket has different types of surfaces attached to each side of the racquet, for traction providing improved spin and speed, the spin allowing you to do all sorts of things
    you cannot do otherwise. Weaking a turban with the right fabric could make a player more effective.

    Many headers are off the top of the head, as in the link I’ve shown. A typical turban with a knot at the top prevents someone from doing that. Wearing a turban with a knot makes the player less effective, and as far as I know almost all turbans, if not all, have a knot or a bulge at the top.

    Many people in this debate, who know nothing about the sport, should learn about soccer before making such bold statements.

    I think this is a case where accommodation is required on the side of Sikh players. They live in a culture where people bare their heads, they should adjust to that.

    The safety argument was ridiculous, but there are arguments for the Quebec position, the primary one being that that game changes with this rule. Players can become more or less effective with a turban. Should the game of soccer, with rules dating back centuries, be changed to accommodate a culture? Or should the culture adapt to the rules as they have always been? Playing the ball with the bare head is a huge part of the game. If players wear turbans, the game is different, different in a sport that has had the same traditions and rules for centuries. Do we change the game, a game which is a huge part of many cultures, to accommodate a new culture that has little history with the game? My answer would be no. I believe that all players should adapt to the rules in a sport with such a long tradition and history as soccer, known as football in most parts of the world.
    I would not want to have two sports, one called multicultural soccer where playing the ball with the head is different, as opposed to traditional soccer. That’s what happened in baseball, with one pro league using a designated hitter, and the other with pitchers coming to the plate. The sport has split in two 50 years ago, and it never reunited to this day. Not a tragedy, but not ideal either. Soccer (football in the rest of the world), has managed to avoid splitting, despite being player in many regions of the world and for a very long time. They’ve managed to maintain a uniform set of rules so that when Koreans play Brazilians, the game is the same, the rules are the same, neither team must adjust to a new set of rules.

  32. “Multiculturalism. Who could be against it? It means “many cultures.” That’s so beautiful.”
    That line is so full of crap it is not funny. It is that same multiculturalism that has brought this whole problem into play. If people cannot see that then they are even more stupid than I give them credit for. You can go all the way back and blame Tru-doh!!! for this mess in the first place.

  33. Racist?
    Well in Canada you can only be racist if you are white. All others love to claim victim status.

  34. The real problem in Quebec is the schizophrenic policies at the official level. Immigration is required to maintain population growth but at the same time the immigrant population has reached a level where the Quebecois see their traditional values and identity being threatened.

    An obvious example of this is that to maintain the French-speaking character, professionals from French-speaking Middle Eastern countries are encouraged to come to Quebec. The natural result of this is that over 25% of the current immigrants are Muslim, are unfortunately being discriminated against in the Quebec professions, and you see Algerian and Moroccan experienced Engineers driving taxis in Montreal.

    Soccer is just the tip of the iceberg !

  35. You have to be a man to not have a violent reaction when you see a man wearing comfortable summer wear in 90-degree weather in Montreal walking in front of his black-clad wife with only a slit for her eyes. But you just call that “dressing differently”, right?

  36. These boys can wear their turbans in their own countries if they wish. They can’t wear their turbans in this country, plain and simple. When we go to their country, we don’t try to change their customs and reglion so why do they impose their customs and religions on Canadian society? The world doesn’t work that way. It’s about time that these people learn that Canadians can’t be pushed around. I know many Canadians across the country feel this way, not just Quebecers.

  37. Quebec is a joke…. and isn’t funny. It’s time for Canada to get rid of that lousy, racist and useless province … ASAP.

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