Values Charter Supporters March Through Montreal
Demonstration Remains Peaceful Amid Large Police Presence
Roughly 500 demonstrators descended on Montreal’s Place Émilie-Gamelin Sunday afternoon in support of the proposed Charter of Quebec Values.
The rally crossed the downtown core with no incident, arriving at Place du Canada in less than an hour, but police presence was decidedly larger than the thousands-strong protest against the Charter of Values that took place last week.
“I don’t want to see the continuation of religious symbols because—you know what [the Lakeridge Health ad] said: it’s not what’s on your head, it’s what’s in your head—what is on your head is what’s in your head,” she said, referencing a marketing campaign by Lakeridge Health which aimed to use the religious head covering ban to attract Sikh and Muslim students from Quebec.
“Religion is so important that you have to show it to everyone and it controls everything so much you lose perspective,” she continued. “You’re not going to bend to other people, you’re not going to bend to other ways of thinking, to the society that welcomed you […] that’s my way of thinking.”
The proposed charter seeks to ban “ostentatious” and visible religious symbols, such as kippas, niqabs, hijabs and turbans, for public institution workers, including those at hospitals and universities.
Religion is so important that you have to show it to everyone and it controls everything so much you lose perspective. You’re not going to bend to other people, you’re not going to bend to other ways of thinking, to the society that welcomed you […] that’s my way of thinking. —Anna Richie, pro-Charter demonstrator
Montreal mayoral hopeful Michel Brûlé was also on hand to at the pro-charter rally, telling the demonstrators he was the only mayoral candidate who supports a “French Quebec,” and that his opponents were more interested in separating Montreal than uniting its people under secularism.
The end of the march was supposed to include more speeches from organizers, but when the megaphone failed to work and the crowd was unable to hear, the demonstration quickly ended.
Multiple people in the crowd were actually against the charter, saying they only were at the demonstration to see who in fact supports the proposed ban on religious symbols.
“I don’t see anyone who does not look white, so don’t you think that’s telling?” said a man who wished only to be identified as Harold.
“Not a single visible minority seems to support them, which makes their ideology sound to me like ethnic nationalism—a specific ethnic nationalism: Québécois, French Canadian, call it what you will.”
Jaggi Singh, QPIRG Concordia’s working groups and programming coordinator, was at the rally as a conscientious objector. He says he is part of a group planning demonstrations aiming to challenge the charter in “a feminist and anti-patriarchy” framework.
“I identify as an atheist, so for people who identify as atheists, as queers, as feminists, it’s important that we speak out as well,” he said.
“[The debate around the charter] shouldn’t be portrayed as old Québécois versus Muslims; it’s actually about what kind of society we want to live in, and I’m very heartened to see Quebecers speak out against this eloquently,” he added.
According to Singh, an anti-charter protest is tabled for Oct. 20. Another pro-Charter demonstration is planned for Oct. 1.