Following his Easter Monday tweet claiming Catholicism as part of this province’s heritage, Quebec Premier Francois is doing his very best to be seen as an equal opportunity offender when it comes to minorities, their rights and perceived place in Quebec.
Admittedly, he is getting quite adept at it and more comfortable in his skin as a hater, as is evident from the ease with which he ignored those Quebecers who felt slighted by his latest slight.
You see, since snatching political power from the Liberals in 2018, Legault has been capitalizing on his growing popularity as champion of heritage Quebecers, white, French-speaking.
And their so-called protection has become his go-to defensive posture if he feels it necessary to respond to criticisms or challenges on the abdication of minority rights in Quebec.
Blacks were the first to hear it, way back when we asked him and his government to recognize systemic racism in Quebec and its debilitating impact on us.
Pointing to the fact that the seismic marginalization that Black people has faced historically in this society, which manifests in an extraordinarily high high-school dropout rate, massive unemployment and under-employment, under-representation at institutions of higher learning and over-representation in the criminal justice system, as evidence enough.
Not for Mr. Legault who equates admitting to systemic to the conclusion that all Quebecers are racist, which is not the case.
Here’s one of his pronouncements on the issue: “I think that there is some discrimination in Quebec, but there’s no systemic discrimination, no system in Quebec of discrimination,” he said, adding “it’s a very small minority of the people who are doing some discrimination.”
And with that, he effectively dismissed Blacks and their concerns.
Then Muslim Quebecers, mainly Muslim women found themselves in the crosshairs of Legault and his CAQ government with the introduction of Bill 21, which prohibits the wearing of religious symbols by public servants in positions of authority while on duty, including teachers, police officers, prison guards, and judges.
Under the pretenses of something referred to as “laicite” which separates state and religion, the Bill adopted by the National Assembly on June 16, 2019, became known as the “hijab law” because of its impact on Muslim women, several of whom actually lost their jobs or were denied position because their headwear.
When the discriminatory elements of the law was decried by minorities in the province and by Canadians across the country, Legault once again invoked his Captain Quebec stance describing it a “flagrant disrespect,” to question the will of the majority of Quebecers.
So here we are in Quebec On Easter Monday a few days after what was for many a devastating ice storm, and of course, the politics and religion is always on the front burner, so instead of addressing the issue of why so many were left in the cold and dark for long, Mr. Legault chose to stay on the dark side.
He tweeted “Catholicism has also given us a culture of solidarity that distinguishes us on a continental scale.”
Not one word about the many other religions and cultures that frame the Quebec society today.
As for the cacophony of responses and criticisms that followed, one can only imagine the premier’s smile.