The Parti Quebecois used to stand for something. These days it seems to take its policy cues from mosquitoes. Its preferred method of governance is to buzz loudly, annoy anyone within range, suck the life out of Quebec, cause welts across the country, and leave people scratching their heads.
If you were ever in doubt about the heights of lunacy which governments committed to a high-modern conception of secularism can reach, I present to you Exhibit A of the latest valiant effort from Le Parti Moustique.
The government's Minister of Democratic Institutions (yes, you read that right), Bernard Drainville wants to revoke the understanding between orthodox Jews and the city of Montreal which "allows orthodox Jews who do not drive on holidays, and who often live close to their synagogues, to avoid tickets if they are unable to move their cars when a holiday coincides with a day designated for street-sweeping." Get that? The city does not tag the cars of the religiously observant in the rare chance that street sweeping and an orthodox holiday happen to take place on the same day (how often are streets swept in Montreal, exactly?). Good heavens, a small group of a small group (the Orthodox Jews make up about 14% of the Montréalaise Jewish population and only 1% of the city's total population), which has been practicing its religion for millennia, and has held this understanding with the municipality of Montreal for nearly three decades, wishes to not get tickets! Anarchy on the streets of Montreal!
Well, that's what Mr. Drainville thinks. Here's what he had to say:
We cannot start saying we are going to change the highway code and the parking signs according to different religions. It will never end. We will have parking signs for Jewish holidays, then we will have parking signs for Catholic holidays, and after that parking signs for Muslim holidays. It makes no sense. We cannot manage a society like that.
The key words here are "manage society". Mr. Drainville sees society, like every other apparatchik of his particular ideology, as something to be managed. And we all know religion is particularly hard to manage, especially since its calendars overlap so often with the calendar which sets the dates on which cigarette butts get swept up into the Madvac LT500.
Luckily, there remains a solid set of Quebeckers who are guided by more wholesome—I want to add more Quebecois—values. A Montreal constitutional lawyer, Julian Grey, notes "We have to have a system of law that allows for discretion and for exercise of ordinary human neighbourliness. There's nothing wrong with what they did." The city councilor for Snowdon, Marvin Rotrand, adds "The idea of meeting requests from major ethnic and religious organizations on our territory, when it causes no prejudice to other citizens or to the city, is something that is natural for us and has been for nearly 30 years, without incident."
The key words here are "ordinary human neighbourliness" and "something natural for us." God bless Messrs Rotrand and Grey for confirming what anyone who's visited Quebec knows: that a remnant of people who respect the role of faith in our common life remain. As for Le Parti Moustique? Well, it deserves a fate worthy of all mosquitoes.