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Engaging with Diversity

Multidisciplinary Reflections on Plurality from Quebec

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Edited By Stéphan Gervais, Raffaele Iacovino and Mary-Anne Poutanen

Contributed by leading scholars of Quebec Studies, both emerging and established, the 30 essays of this comprehensive collection offer a multidisciplinary survey of the study of diversity in Quebec over space and time. The volume is organized around a variety of themes through which Quebec’s plural reality is expressed, including conceptual, historical and contemporary approaches, covering a wide range of social and economic cleavages, identity markers, political contestation and, broadly, the lived experiences of Quebecers negotiating difference over time. In an environment increasingly demarcated by conflicts around values and cultural and social practices, this collection hopes to contribute to broadening the spectrum of voices to the current debate, adding an inclusive reflection to a conversation that has only intensified over the last decade. Quebec as a pluri-national and multi-ethnic society has been and remains a great laboratory to study and to test public policies on ethnic diversity. It allows us to identify the tensions and to evaluate the balance between the majority and the minority; and between settler society and indigenous nations, in conceptualizing and finding a normative consensus around the configuration of collective rights. In short, the contributions in this volume seek to illustrate how pluralism has and continues to constitute the lifeblood of belonging in Quebec.

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Secularism and the National Question (Michel Seymour)

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Secularism and the National Question

Michel SEYMOUR

This text brings together some reflections on the draft Charter of Secularism that the Parti Québécois (PQ) planned to table in 2013 as Bill 60 (2013). On 7April 2014, the provincial election results quashed the PQ’s ambition to pass this bill. The Quebec Liberal Party (QLP), which opposed the PQ’s version of the Charter, won a majority of seats in the National Assembly (70 out of a total of 125, whereas the PQ only won about 30). However, the debate around the Charter of Secularism is far from being over, if not just for the fact that the QLP, Québec Solidaire (QS) and Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) also defended their own versions of the Charter.

In this article, I propose to examine the links between the draft Charter of Secularism and Quebec nationalism. To understand these links, gain some insight into what lies ahead and help us avoid the political blunders that we saw in 2013–2014, it would first be useful to recall the events that have taken place since the reasonable accommodation crisis.

From the Reasonable Accommodation Crisis to the Charter of Secularism

For a few years running, and especially after 2005, the media in Quebec reported on events related to what it dubbed “the reasonable accommodations crisis”, eliciting strong reactions in public opinion. For example, there was a media story about a...

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