Filiatrault’s argument for the Quebec values charter is pure hypocrisy

Some similarities between the Janettes and the Mutaween


Denise Filiatrault (CP)

Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice is made up of dreadfully pious men who, in the course of enforcing that country’s version of Sharia law, largely spend their days haranguing women in shopping malls. Among other virtuous tasks, the Mutaween, as these men are known, make sure women’s lips, eyes and fingernails are unpainted, female heads are properly hidden, and skin is appropriately swathed. Its leader once suggested that allowing women to drive would “affect ovaries and roll up the pelvis.” Righteous, rigid and allergic to media attention, would be the stuff of satire, were they not also prone to jailing anyone who proselytizes any other religion than Islam.

Denise Filiatrault doesn’t share the Mutaween’s camera shyness—she’s an actress and director, after all. Yet in recent days the proclaimed feminist has been spouting things that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from the maw of some enraged Mutaween. In a recent radio interview with host Pierre Arcand, Filiatrault had this to say about Dalila Awada, the young Muslim woman who has been outspoken in her defence of the right to wear the hijab.

She wears makeup so outrageously, [that] ravishing woman… She hides her hair and paints herself up like a clown.

Filiatrault is one of the so-called “Janettes,” the group of 20 notable Quebec women who recently came out in support of the Parti Québécois so-called “Quebec values charter.”

This charter, you’ll recall, seeks to ban all “conspicuous” religious symbols from the bodies of anyone working for a government-funded institution. The PQ maintained its charter sought to blanch Quebec society of all religions, but Filiatrault recently put an end to that rather disingenuous bit of spiel with her bon mots: this charter is about keeping Muslim veils off Muslim women’s heads, point final.

It’s one thing to profess one’s outrage at the very thought of the veil—or even, as Filiatrault did in the same interview, suggest all veiled women are willing victims of stifling, mysoginistic patriarchy. This is standard puritanical feminist fare, as easily excitable as it is easy to ignore.

But Filiatrault’s ad hoc critique of Awada’s appearance is something else entirely. Like the Mutaween who says driving will mess wreak havoc on a woman’s ovaries, Filiatrault seems to think the veil instills a certain madness in the wearer, compelling her to… what? Act out? Dress like a whore? Filiatrault never really says, except to tell Arcand that women who wear them are necessarily “crazy.”

Filiatrault later expressed regret for the “crazy” bit, yet nowhere in her tweeted half-apology did she make mention of her xenophobic take down of Awada. (Nor did she apologize for insinuating that mayoral candidate Richard Bergeron, a convert to Islam, was a Muslim fundamentalist; or for saying Muslim men have a tendency to toss their petulant wives into lakes—an apparent reference to the Shafia family murders. Tweets and Facebook messages are too short, I guess.)

The other day, Voir’s Simon Jodoin wrote eloquently about how the debate over this charter of values has degenerated into social media-enabled name-calling and, not coincidentally, an increase in the number of attacks, verbal and otherwise, on veiled women in Montreal. He’s right: women shelters in Montreal have seen an increase in attacks against Muslim women since the Parti Québécois’s heavily-mediatized rollout of their proposed charter.

The hypocrisy is dizzying. Filiatrault professes the importance of equality between the sexes. She and her “Janettes” (so named after actor and writer Janette Bertrand) claim the veil is a hateful smear on womanhood. Yet her defence of this charter has been little but an attack on women. She’s attacking women to save them from themselves: call it the female Mutaween, the secular Taliban.


Filiatrault’s argument for the Quebec values charter is pure hypocrisy

  1. I don’t often support Quebec often, but on this.

    Religion, any religion, has no business being in government and being a visible or non-visible bias of religion. And Muslims need to stop being pushy about this, as it just gives them the deserved bad image. You want to live here, you need to respect other peoples opinions and the majority in Canada still see women should be equals and not bagged slaves.

    Same goes for arranged marriages, a PC way of saying sex slavery.

    That is, multiculturalism is OK as long as you don’t violate the equality of women and other peoples freedom of choice without religious bias. Time to evolve into this century. Do like others do, use the dress codes for off work displays of old cultures.

    • “You want to live here, you need to respect other people’s opinions…”

      Might want to take your own advice there, Dave.

      First of all, contrary to what appears to be popular belief, Muslim women don’t HAVE to wear veils or submit to arranged marriages. Those are cultural issues, not religious ones.
      Second, did you even read the article? The Janettes aren’t much nicer to Muslim women than the stereotypical Muslim men of your xenophobic fantasies. SMH

    • “And Muslims need to stop being pushy about this” or about any other issue of your choice, I suppose. In reality, what you are really saying is that YOU need certain things. An entirely different matter, and a difference that speaks highly to a speaker’s integrity, or lack thereof.

    • What I don’t understand is how government employees wearing religious symbols somehow makes religion “be in government” or give government a “bias of religion.” Are hijabs and kippahs and crosses making the laws? Are they setting departmental priorities? Has the government decided to legislate on the basis of any religious code – on any or all of the religious codes that might be adhered to by its employees who wear religious dress? If the hospital emergency doctor or the clerk at the ministry of transportation wears a hijab or is an orthodox jew or a conservative catholic – does their choice of dress inflect the service they deliver to you with their religion? If your MP is of a different religion than you, are they any less responsible for representing you? Seriously, could someone please tell me how choice of dress charges the employee’s actions with religious meaning?

      • Governments already ban their employees from wearing signs of political affiliation, limiting freedom of expression. Why? Does displaying one’s belief in the platform of the NDP changes the way one dispenses a service?

        In addition to the political capital it hopes to gain with this, the QC government, and it seems many Quebecers and Canadians, feel that the state should not only be neutral but should also appear to be neutral in its interactions with citizens.

        Personally, a perfect example of neutrality of the state would be a commissioner wearing a prominent religious sign perform a marriage between two persons of the same sex. I would have no doubt that the employee had left their religious beliefs outside of their work environment! But a lot of people will disagree.

    • you’re disgusting and I don’t know why these people are entertaining you. If anyone doesn’t belong in this country, we know all know who it is.

  2. Martin, are you insane??!!… I mean, I GET what you’re trying to do… Using sarcasm and logic to point out the absurdity of Filiatrault’s argument… But it’s like trying to argue carbon dating to a creationist!… You’re banging your head against a wall!… This woman has made being obtuse her mantra… her philosophy… her religion… You are NEVER going to get through to someone like this… She will rail against the rain while still standing out in it… Kudos at your bravado…. But better to take on the Mid-East… Far easier and endeavour!

  3. Filiatrault’s hate is directed at immigrant women, while the blemishes of her own society are ignored. Go get drunk with Marois, Mme F, and keep your prejudices to yourself.

    Mme F comes from a defensive, conformist, and collectivist society, and it’s certain that she’ll never improve it.

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