Pauline Marois is ignoring lessons she herself wanted taught

By Robert Green | Published September 16 by The Montreal Gazette

Premier Pauline Marois needs to go back to high school. If she did she would be exposed to a curriculum that was introduced in 1997 by the Parti Québécois’s minister of education at the time: an ambitious up-and-comer by the name of Pauline Marois.

Here are a few samples of what Mme. Marois would learn from her own curriculum document, the Quebec Education Program:

student-MaroisThe program identifies several “broad areas of learning” that are to be integrated into the teaching of all subjects. In its description of one such the broad area of learning, Citizenship and Community Life, the education plan refers to schools as places that “bring together students of diverse social and cultural origins, with a variety of traditions, beliefs, values and ideologies.” It presents such diversity as an opportunity for teachers, stating: “This makes the school an ideal place for learning to respect others and accept their differences, to be receptive to pluralism, to maintain egalitarian relationships with others and to reject all forms of exclusion.” The educational aim for this area of learning includes developing “an attitude of openness to the world and respect for diversity.”

The Ethics and Religious Culture program also has some important lessons for Mme. Marois. This program has two objectives. The first is the “recognition of others,” which is “linked to the principle that all people possess equal value and dignity.” Because of “the importance (that) each of us attributes to being recognized, particularly with respect to our world-view,” we need to engage in the sort of dialogue that “contributes to building a common culture that takes diversity into account.” The second objective is the “pursuit of the common good.” This is explicitly linked to the principles and values outlined in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Section 3 of the charter includes freedom of religion and freedom of expression as being among Quebec’s fundamental freedoms. Section 10 guarantees the exercise of these fundamental freedoms without “distinction, exclusion or preference” based on, among other things, religion.

Mme. Marois also has much to learn from the government-approved textbooks that are used to prepare students for the all-important Grade 10 exam in the History of Canada and Quebec. The unit on population tells the story of a modern Quebec that has become more and more open and accepting of cultural diversity, while maintaining an emphasis on French as the common language. It describes the 1986 Declaration by the Quebec Government on Ethnic and Race Relations as encouraging “tolerance and acceptance of the other so that all cultural communities could contribute to the development of society.” It describes the 2001 Act Respecting Equal Access to Employment in Public Bodies as legislation “aimed to acknowledge the participation of minorities in public organizations” and to “promote an intercultural dialogue and the belonging of all citizens to Quebec society.”

As an educator in one of Montreal’s most culturally diverse English public high schools, I find it difficult to express the anger and frustration I feel about the PQ’s proposed Charter of Quebec Values.

This anger is about much more than the fact that Mme. Marois is in the process of making a mockery of the very government curriculum I am obliged to teach. I am also angry because of what the charter will mean for some of my colleagues — effectively rendering them second-class citizens because of their religion. No Quebecer should be forced to choose between his or her job in a public institution and expressions of religious faith that he or she considers fundamental to his or her identity. It is impossible to argue that a kippah, hijab or turban in any way impedes one’s ability to be an outstanding public servant.

The diversity of my school’s staff and students is celebrated as one of its greatest assets. Why should students who happen to be from religious families be denied role models who express their religious faith in similar ways? Should not all students have the possibility of seeing themselves reflected in the school’s staff? What message is being sent to children when they see that adults are being forced to hide signs of cultural difference? What are the implications of making immigrant young people feel even more excluded than they already do?

If Mme. Marois would go back to high school and learn from her own curriculum, perhaps this turn toward the politics of exclusion could be avoided.

4 Responses to “Pauline Marois is ignoring lessons she herself wanted taught”

  1. Thank you Mr. Green for your well-expressed views. I am taking this opportunity to ask you to consider supporting the following proposal for a concerted action to protest the Parti Quebecois government’s “charter of values.” My proposal is that all those in opposition to the Quebec “charter of values” wear a black armband on September 30th. The black armband has been a symbol of mourning for hundreds of years in many cultures. Wearing a black armband on September 30th in Quebec will signify that the wearer is in mourning for the death of freedom in Quebec. Although there are other protests, such as marches, being planned, many people will not participate due to logistical reasons and other commitments. Wearing a black armband is very simple and allows the person to conduct their affairs as normal while being a visible symbol of protest throughout the province against this heinous law.

    I ask your help in supporting this proposal by spreading the word and inviting your friends and colleagues to wear a black armband on September 30th. Please note that the armband can be a simple black ribbon, a piece of black cloth, or even a black sock. I look forward to your responses to my proposal.

    Respectfully yours,

    Perry Adler

    (Here’s my try at a French version of the above text – I welcome corrections – Merci!)

    Chers amis et collègues,

    Je propose une action concertée pour protester contre «La charte des valeurs» du gouvernement du Parti québécois. En bref, cette loi est une attaque contre les droits de la population du Québec. Ma proposition est que tous ceux qui sont en opposition avec la «charte des valeurs» du Québec portent un brassard noir le 30 Septembre. Le brassard noir a été un symbole de deuil depuis des centaines d’années dans de nombreuses cultures. Le port d’un brassard noir le 30 Septembre au Québec signifie que le porteur est en deuil de la mort de la liberté au Québec. Bien qu’il existe d’autres manifestations, telles que des marches, prévue, de nombreuses personnes ne seront pas participer pour des raisons logistiques et autres engagements. Le port d’un brassard noir est très simple et permet à la personne de mener leurs affaires comme d’habitude, tout en étant un symbole visible de la protestation dans toute la province contre cette loi odieuse.

    Je demande votre aide pour soutenir cette proposition par inviter vos amis et collègues à porter un brassard noir le 30 Septembre. Veuillez noter que le brassard peut être un ruban noir simple, un morceau de tissu noir, ou même une chaussette noire. J’ai hâte de lire vos réponses à ma proposition.


    Perry Adler

    • Hi Perry!
      Thanks for getting in touch. Sounds like an interesting idea. Has it been endoursed by any organizations yet. Let me know and I’ll speak to my colleagues about the proposal.

  2. Hi Robert,

    Sadly, no organizations have endorsed it but many colleagues and friends are committed to wearing the armband and spreading the word about the protest. My kids have placed my text on their Facebook accounts and getting “likes” and pledges of support. I am glad you approve of the idea and I’d appreciate your help.



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