Quebec’s anti-hate law recently passed, and proponents and opponents are taking to social media. For those who are tuned in, some of the news coverage on the issue is misleading.
When a progressive politician makes an anti-hate law statement, it should be reported — especially on social media — as evidence of progress. Legislators are bold, just like farmers and journalists, both of whom take risks for a cause. In the same way, Quebec’s introduction of Bill 21 is a change of an existing law, one drafted by Quebec’s former Liberal minister Maxime Bernier, right before his stunning and, well, unexpected resignation from the separatist Bloc Québécois.
As Liberal political strategist Allan Gregg wrote in The Globe and Mail on Monday, there has been “a nagging awareness that Bill 21 contains more bad than good elements” and hopes the attention around the debate will “nudge the government to ‘fix’ the legislation.”
Get behind your MLAs, Réjean Charest and Pierre Moreau, now!
Le thequer @realpq__t premier Trudeau, M-shaude En Monsieur bleu de glace paysite aujourd’hui, & le MLAs of… Québec châteaui m’est pas lait. — nièle le Guillou (@niëlelem/ontre) November 26, 2018
Speaking in the National Assembly on Monday, Mr. Moreau said, “I would like to thank the sitting members who stood up against racism.”
That commentary is, at best, misleading, since Mr. Moreau in no way supported the bill, and if he did, it was merely an example of openness to debate that was reposted by journalists who have always seemed to see an effort to obstruct the bill. Because, again, Mr. Moreau is the only Liberal politician in Quebec to oppose the legislation, an attempted reversal of his vote by the PQ government was much stronger than most other levels of government.
Now, Mr. Moreau has said he can support it “on the other hand, without a doubt, in a second.”
To be sure, while there is confusion over the intentions of the legislation, on the whole, the people of Quebec have, as Léo Bureau-Blouin, the leader of Québec solidaire, put it, “shown in the face of racism and xenophobia that they value democracy and freedom.”
Quebecois know better than to vote in favor of a law that is meant to increase the police of minorities, while, at the same time, the opponents of Bill 21 like to play the victim card. In the end, however, if the PQ has its way, it will become a law that is increasingly interpreted against all Quebecers.
The victims are called Quebeckers. Some of the targets are more familiar: Muslim women covering their faces, who travel on buses to seek medical care, and Kurdish political leaders, who have been elected to the National Assembly.
What about Quebec’s heritage, I hear people ask. What about Marois’ seat.
For those who are sad about what is happening in Quebec today, the question needs to be asked: As Quebec leads the way, how will the rest of Canada react?
If you see the news coverage of Bill 21, the world should not ask why this happened, but how it can be stopped.