The chill in Quebec is not from the polar vortex #QcPoli #AssNat

By in Being Canadian, Politics on March 12, 2014

My anger at the ludicrousness of Bill 60 when I wrote my Open Letter to Pauline Marois has transformed over the past few months into a frustrated feeling of sadness. Watching our current government rule my place of birth is the equivalent of watching your childhood home be infested by termites, eating their way through the wood.

I join the thousands of other Quebecers sitting back watching the political situation deteriorate. Many feel helpless but I feel more than ever that the time to get involved and speak up is now. The political situation is such that we cannot simply let them get away with throwing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms out the window. I, along with thousands of others, have become relegated to third class citizens, first for being a visible religious minority and second for being primarily anglophone. The bilingualism does not bother me. I was raised to be trilingual, however I worry for so many Quebecers who have not been so fortunate.

I was at the local walk-in clinic recently. It’s winter and with the severe shortage of family doctors in this province, it’s not uncommon to see people lining up at the doctor’s office at 6am. When my turn came, I was greeted curtly by a male doctor. I explained my cold symptoms to him and without missing a beat, he turned and asked me to remove my hijab. I asked why it would be necessary as I was there for a common cold/flu. He had full access to my ears/throat as is customary during a checkup. He demanded I take off my “entire scarf immediately.” I told him that I did not see it as being necessary to remove it entirely.

If you do not remove your entire scarf it will severely limit the quality of your medical care.” For any doctors reading this, please correct me if I’m wrong, if you are able to access a patient’s ears/throat/chest does seeing their hair improve the quality of medical care? Needless to say, the remainder of the appointment was curt and uncomfortable. I left his office feeling that same feeling of annoyance at how badly things have deteriorated in this province.

For the few years I lived in Ontario, I had a wonderful female doctor who wore a loose scarf on her head. She was attentive, professional and empathetic. Her scarf in no way interfered with her ability to do her job, the same way that a kippah or turban would not interfere either. I cannot use the same adjectives to describe the doctor who recently treated me.

I left the clinic that day feeling confused. Was I wrong to be offended? The conclusion I came to was no. Absolutely not. I was no more in the wrong than a victim feels after being bullied.

I debated whether or not I’d share this story and as I did with the incident at the movie theatre, I knew I had to share what happened. I needed to do it for myself, but even more so for the dozens of patients who have more than likely been victim of the same sort of unnecessary prying to remove their hijab, or kippah or turban.

For the naysayers or eye-rollers out there, there is nothing wrong with removing my hijab or other article of clothing for a doctor if it is necessary for the sake of the medical examination. In this instance, it was not. It was the equivalent of asking a woman to fully remove her top and undergarment in order to examine her lungs.

The changes in the environment in Quebec are subtle but ever present. I have felt the chill in the air. From the racial slur while at the movies with my kids to reading passive aggressive comments on social media.

Our joie de vivre, pride in diversity and bilingualism has been replaced with political unease, targeted discrimination of visibly religious minorities and linguistic force that makes me look over the shoulder if the local big box store clerk greets me with a hello as if the Office de la Langue Francais police (yes, they actually exist) might jump out of nowhere and sentence her to death by poutine.

It’s a frustration. Yet somehow I can’t help but feel that this is what they want. They keep introducing these discriminatory, bigoted bills essentially weeding out the populous. It feels like a game of “let’s drive away the religious minorities, then the anglos, then launch a referendum”. Divide and conquer is nothing new. If only they approached issues that actually matter, like a severe doctor shortage, unemployment and crumbling infrastructure with the same fervor.

The time to feel helpless has passed. Our MINORITY government has called an election and the time to show up, cast our vote and make a difference is NOW.

First things first, call 1-888-353-2846 to make sure you are registered to vote. Do it now.  Finish reading this, then pick up the phone and CALL.

Next up, share this post, and encourage others to do the same. I am tired of people pretending that things have not changed in Quebec. It is simply not true. Ask any visiblly religious minority. There is a chill in the air and it’s not the polar vortex, it’s coming from the PQ.

8 thoughts on “The chill in Quebec is not from the polar vortex #QcPoli #AssNat

  1. 1

    I’m hoping that we can get the voters to do the right thing and vote her out! I’m encouraging the people I know to vote. I’m also hoping we can count on the Natives in QC to fight along side us. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers Fariha :)

  2. Gil Michel-Garcia
    3

    Being discriminated against by the state due to your sex, sexual orientation, race, age, origin or religion is in clear violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms. Any affront to these rights against any individual is an affront against us all. There are thousands of loyal Canadians in Quebec that feel the same as you. Please continue to stand up for your rights and to expose injustice and discrimination wherever you see it. My only recommendation is to always be ready to record these encounters on your cell phone. This allows such occurrences to go viral on social media and help to shine a light on such discrimination. So I would encourage everyone to not only donate to, campaign for and vote for the Liberal Party of Quebec, but to also always have your cell phones on the ready. These are the new weapons in our battle against the forces of intolerance. Always remember, the WE stand on guard for Canada and the battle for our way of life and our values is not located in some far off land but right here in Quebec.

    • 4

      Thanks for your comment Gil. Unfortunately I did not have my cellphone ready as I was about to prepare for what I thought would be a standard medical examination!

  3. 5

    oh Fariha – my heart just hurts for the way our country is allowing this to happen. I am so very sorry. This is so wrong. We may not share the same faith but please know that I stand firmly beside you in this fight.

  4. 7

    I was part of that Ekos poll a couple of weeks ago. When they asked me if I was thinking of leaving Quebec because of this Bill, I said, as a matter of fact I am. I can’t afford to, but I’m afraid of what will happen if it passes. Then they asked me if I’d ever thought of leaving before? I burst into tears when I realized that even though the Anti-Anglo sentiment is always bubbling just below the surface, I had never even remotely considered leaving before. Before now.

    My Father’s family is here. My cousin André is part of that anti-multiculturalism movement that is so supportive of this proposed charter and it makes me both very ill and very sad at the same time.

    Most Quebecers don’t seem to know this, but in June 1979, Quebec passed UNANIMOUSLY the very secular Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In fact, the Quebec Human Rights Commission posted a front page 35 year commemmoration of this act of law on their web page: http://www.cdpdj.qc.ca/en/Pages/35-ans.aspx

    Until last year when the PQ took power in the Provincial election, Quebec had been on a one way track to being heralded as the most free and equal place in the world for someone to live and raise their family, but for the language issue, that is.

    But now, If this charter gets eradicated and the new proposed charter gets put into place, Quebec will not only be spinning the clock back 35 years, Rene Levesque will spin in his grave.

    Someone said to me, If you don’t like the law, you can just leave, and I said, are you going to pay my moving expenses, buy my house, move my business? Funny, nobody ever has the answer to that.

    The amount of ignorance and racism required to support this proposed charter riles me. That anyone can grow up so ignorant and racist as this given the education given by both school boards in this Province, absolutely blows my mind.

    The good news is that laws do not get enacted in a void. Several things are required to fall into place in order for the proposal to become law.

    1. Mme Marois and the very obviously separatist PQ will have to not only win the election, without the support of enough of the other parties’ members, they will require a majority government.

    2. If they receive a minority mandate, they simply have to climb into bed with the elected members of whichever political coalition will actually back the bill, and the CAQ has made it quite clear that they will support it.

    3. If they receive a minority mandate, they will have to follow procedure and complete the hearings on the bill, which, I am hoping will show to sufficient people that this charter is based solely on ignorance, fear and racism and has no justifiable place in a civilized society.

    4. They will have to get the Charter, written as is, to pass the Supreme Court of Quebec. That cannot happen as the Charter contravenes existing freedom of religious expression laws.

    5. In the event that this were to require going to the Supreme Court of Canada, I have no doubt that the PQ will pull a notwithstanding clause as the Bourassa Government did with Bill 78.

    At the end of the day, I actually believe that Bill 60 is a red herring. As is witness to the crowning of the Mr. PK Peladeau as Prince cohort for Mme Marois, this bill isn’t about making women subjugate themselves to the racism of the charter, it is about creating a situation where Quebec will actually have the legs they need to Separate from Canada. Which I might add, has had very little real thought put into it either, as one can witness by Mme Marois suggestion that Quebec would STILL have a seat at the Bank of Canada… right? In which fantasy realm might Canada allow a foreign government a seat?

    How did the inherently stupid get in charge?

    Canada has gotten so sick of it, I’m hearing from the ROC, “if Quebec wants to separate, let them go”.

    Well, what if 60% of us don’t want to “go”?

    Then the PQ is going to have a fight on their hands.

    I hope we don’t need guns for the battle, because I’m a pacifist and my sensibilities have been wounded plenty by the Quebec Government already.

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