The Charter of Rights of 1982 continues to dismantle the last remnants of our Christian culture in Canada. On Sept. 22, the Quebec Tribunal of Human Rights ordered the City of Laval, a suburb north of Montreal, to stop the traditional practice of prayer before the monthly city meetings. Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt has continued this good tradition despite a citizen’s formal complain in 2001. Supported by the Quebec Lay Movement, this individual won the battle against prayer in Laval, even though the city paid more than $40,000 to save this religious right for the community. Montreal abandoned the practice in 1986 under leftist mayor Jean Doré. About 400 cities in Quebec still begin their monthly meetings by addressing a prayer to God or to the Lord. According to the Quebec Human rights commission, this does not respect the rights of atheists.
Just few days after this decision, another city, Saguenay, was targeted by the secularist militants. The mayor of Saguenay is a fervent Catholic and will use all his means to keep prayer in his city, which is composed almost entirely of Catholic French Canadians.
The 20 city councillors support the mayor completely. The mayor told Le Quotidien of Saguenay on Sept. 26, “I will not renounce my religion for politics. I would rather step down. I will not give up on that, I will say my prayer. I am Catholic and it will not be for the sake of votes that I will say to the Good Lord ‘move out.’”
However, he said afterwards he does not want to use taxpayers’ money to fight the atheists and that if the case goes to court, he will obey the law as a good Catholic. For the time being, as long as there is no decision, he will continue his prayer before public meetings and will not accept simply keeping a moment of silence “because we are not atheists.” We hope that the Catholic reaction of this good mayor will wake up some French Canadians who have forgotten their baptism and their duty as Christians.
The next step of the atheists who pretend to merely want a secular society will be an attack on all the remaining Christian signs in public life. On Sept. 26, Stephane Gendron, a populist radio host, sent a formal complaint to the president of the National Assembly in Quebec City protesting against the crucifix that still hangs over the chair of the National Assembly’s president. He said that it is contrary to his religious convictions. Gendron is an atheist who is also considered a right winger and a potential candidate for the Conservative party of Canada. Even the PQ has never had the audacity to remove the crucifix from the National Assembly. How will the Liberal party of the “Progressive Conservative,” Premier Jean Charest, react? Even though Charest is a Roman Catholic, he has always been weak in the defence of Christian values because he is first and foremost an opportunist and a liberal.
Another obsession for the Quebec atheists, represented by the Mouvement laïque du Quebec, is of course the Cross on the summit of the Mount Royal. That will be their final battle. We can imagine how much this Cross is a daily annoyance for them. This illustrates their malaise, because even a Jewish artist like Leonard Cohen was proud of those Catholic signs in his native city. He used to say that all Montrealers are Catholic by their culture, even if they are Jewish by their religion. Montreal is the city of 100 belltowers and it will always be. It is written in its act of birth.
This debate exposes the absurdities to which the Charter of Rights of Pierre Elliott Trudeau has led us. In his imagination, perhaps he never foresaw these consequences, but the problem of this Charter is precisely that it is a fantasy, not something rooted in our legal and political tradition. It is contrary to the spirit of our British heritage. I hope that one day, some Canadian politicians will have the courage to criticize this golden calf. Invoked by judicial activists and radicals, it is used to slowly destroy all the traditional institutions that have served the common good of our nation. The heritage of Pierre Trudeau, and particularly his Charter of Rights, should be the first target of the Conservative party of Canada. Instead of that, Stephen Harper talks about decreasing the GST by two per cent and giving a tax credit for worker’s tools. Wonderful politics.