The Charter of Québec Values is unjust and is currently a dark shadow on Canada. It represents governmental racism towards religious groups and clearly violates the freedom of conscience and religion, which is a key fundamental freedom under section 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 1 of the charter clearly outlines these rights and freedoms are guaranteed within reasonable limits. There is clearly no reasonableness to this proposed Charter of Values, because public servants are there to protect society and a piece of cloth on their head does not change anything.

This is just my opinion and I might be bias, because I wear a turban and want to join law enforcement. Proposed laws like the Charter of Québec Values make me think, have we truly cut down on racism. Racism by citizens is one thing but, when the government clearly practices racism it makes me wonder, have we really progressed away from racism, or is this Canada more similar to the Canada that implemented the Head Tax on Chinese immigration several years ago.

Now that I have outlined my perspective, I will shift my focus to Fuller and Finnis and incorporate several components from the class lecture. Lon Fuller would view the Charter of Québec Values as not a valid law. For Fuller law must reflect an internal morality, if it does not it is not law. (30) From this basis the Charter of Québec Values is morally wrong because it is not for the greater good of society and marginalizes certain religious groups. It’s morally wrong for the Quebec government to discriminate against certain people and set restriction which prohibit them express their religious values, while working as a public servants. If there is already a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the government has guaranteed those rights, it is morally wrong to make a law inconsistent to the previous law. Fuller would further argue that this charter does not have the force of law, because it is inconsistent with parts of his King Rex moral tale. For example the 6th failure of King Rex was, he enacts contradictory rules. This is relevant to the Charter of Québec Values because it is contradictory or opposing the basic principles of fundamental freedom in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  As I mentioned above the government cannot on one hand guarantee rights like freedom of religion and on the other hand implement the Charter of Quebec Values, it is a contradictory law.

Finnis on the other hand would further label the Charter of Quebec Values as not valid law. Finnis would do this because it does not further human flourishing. For instance, this charter can certainly cause unemployment for several religious public servants and limit them to thrive in life which in essence would suppress human flourishing (35). Finnis would additionally say it is not valid because it limits the value of religion and spiritual experience. The Quebec government is directly targeting religious beliefs and viewing these public servants as a threat to the public, even though they are peacefully practicing their spiritual beliefs. Finally Finnis would say it is not law because it reduces knowledge for its own sake, for example it decreases public knowledge of religion and increases ignorance in society. The public may not directly know why these public servants wear religious symbols or headwear and might view them as a threat if the government views them as a threat.

Although Fuller would argue it is not a valid law, the arguments of Finnis are much stronger because his seven forms of human flourishing directly included religion and spiritual experience in them. Finnis also provides a more effective way of determining what a just law is. A key weakness in Finnis’s work is he argues that sometimes it is important to follow an unjust law because the overall legal system does not become weak (36). In conclusion, the Charter of Quebec Values is unjust, both Fuller and Finnis would agree with some of the arguments I made above. It is unjust law because it’s not for the greater good of society and is not fair to religious and honest individuals working in the public sector.

Links:

Here is a link of  another attack on religion by the province of Quebec. The soccer federation wanted to ban turbans  from soccer.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-soccer-federation-reverses-turban-ban-1.1319350

Charter of Values

http://www.nosvaleurs.gouv.qc.ca/en/propositions/3

Sources:

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law and society redefined . (pp. 30-36). Toronto : Oxford University Press.

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3 Comments

by | September 22, 2013 · 6:08 pm

3 responses to “Charter of Québec Values – Fuller and Finnis Argument

  1. You make an important point about the distinction between racist attitudes held by citizens and racist policies endorsed by governments. Clearly there are areas of overlap, but the Charter pertains to citizen-state interactions (as opposed to citizen-citizen interactions).

    Some have argued that the Charter does not reflect racism per se, but rather discriminatory xenophobia – a fear of overt signifiers of cultural ‘otherness’. What do you think about this?
    When discussing Fuller, you note that:
    “For Fuller law must reflect an internal morality, if it does not it is not law. (30) From this basis the Charter of Québec Values is morally wrong because it is not for the greater good of society and marginalizes certain religious groups.”
    I wonder if this is an accurate application of Fuller. His theory is concerned with procedural morality – with the ways that laws are created and administered, as opposed to the moral implications of the content of a given statute. Which of his ‘desiderata’ could be used to argue that a law that reproduces marginalization is invalid? I think that you are on firmer ground when you point out that implementing the Charter of Quebec Values could contradict the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, thereby violating Fuller’s fifth point.
    Your application of Finnis is excellent, particularly as it pertains to his remarks on knowledge as an important aspect of human flourishing. I am reminded of the post-September 11 (and recent) attacks on members of US Sikh communities based on the erroneous beliefs that Sikhs are Muslims.
    I would be interested in your opinion regarding the intent and timing of the Charter of Quebec Values. What is the intended purpose of this policy? Why do you think that it is being put forward at this time?

    • When you say the charter represents discriminatory xenophobia rather than racism; I think this is a valid point because people are increasingly fearful of people from other countries. This has increasingly been the case after 9/11, when Arab countries started being looked at in more depth. Xenophobia means to fear or hate people from other countries but, several people being affected by the charter of values are Canadian citizens born in Canada. In my opinion it is racist to treat Canadian citizens this way and disallow them to display their religion while working in the public sector.
      To answer the question you posed towards the end I think the timing of this charter of values is ironic, according to the charter of values website the press release of the charter of values was on September 10, just a day before September 11. It was in my opinion done this way to limit citizen backlash from the majority of Quebec citizens and in a way remind people that these symbols can in a way be a threat to society. The intended purpose of this policy is to separate religion from public work. This is wrong because every citizen must be allowed to freely express their religion.

      Do you think this purposed law will be implemented in the near future?

      I appreciate your feedback
      Thanks

  2. Thanks for the follow-up response. You make some interesting points regarding the politics of the Charter and the timing of this issue.

    It is hard to say whether the Charter will be implemented in the near future. I would have felt comfortable speculating about this several years ago, but since I moved to BC I have lost touch with the ‘pulse’ of issues in Quebec. That said, there are some important factors to consider. First, support for the Charter is largely found outside of Montreal, with all Montreal boroughs expressing opposition. Second, there is a renewable opt-out clause in the proposed law that would likely be applied by many municipalities and institutions (especially in Montreal). Third, there is a lot of merit to the argument that this law would violate the Charter, so if it is passed it may well be short-lived. I would suggest that it makes sense to regard this as a political move, rather than (or in addition to) an effort to effect social change through law. In fact, the failure to implement the Charter may be as much of a political victory for its proponents as success.