Off all the asinine comments made by Mme Marois in defense of her fatally flawed ‘Québec charte des valeurs’ (daycare workers wearing hijabs are threatening our children, comparing it to Bill 101, etc.) I think the one I want to discuss here is her rather unfortunate using of the French model of “laiçité” as an example for Québec to follow in integrating its Muslim population.

The notion, that French secularist traditions have led to some sort of social harmony between French society and millions of Arab speaking Muslim Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan immigrants, the vast majority of which arrived in France during the post-war period at the invitation of previous French governments to help fill jobs created by the boom of recovery in Europe’s war-torn economies, is simply laughable.

Anyone who has been paying attention to recent French history knows that unemployment rates among the Arabic Muslim minority (one in every 13 French citizens describes themselves as Muslim) are much higher than they are among the general population. There has also been a rise, though not due only to socio-economic conditions, of homegrown terrorism and racial tensions in France’s major cities (for example the riots of Clichy-Sous-Bois back in 2005).

French secularism is very different from North America’s, or even Quebec’s version of the institution, owing to the dramatically different historical, political and legal contexts in which it evolved. Even Marois seems to vaguely grasp this fact, saying that “Quebec will develop its own model based on our values and experiences.”

For starters, France has essentially been thoroughly secular at the governmental level since the French Revolution in 1789. But, more to the point, their version of secularism makes no exceptions for Christian symbolism in the public sector (i.e. no cross hangs in their National Assembly). Also, it should be said, that the measures being proposed by the PQ are not as drastic as those that were imposed in France, where there are no niqabs allowed in public whatsoever, and female students are not even allowed to wear hijabs at state schools.

But Marois’ ignorance of the French model that ostensibly inspired her bill is not confined to French history. She also spectacularly misreads British multiculturalism as a main cause of British terrorism, in the process unwittingly spewing the same claptrap as such noble political parties as the racist British National Party and the ultra-right wing UK Independence Party. I suppose it has never occurred to her to look at the rest of Canada as a successful model of multiculturalism?

Marois either doesn’t appreciate the obvious differences in context between Western Europeans societies and ours with respect to integrating religious minorities, or doesn’t care to. Irrespective, she will pursue her destructive agenda to the bitter end.

Perhaps we on the federalist side of the political spectrum should rejoice. This could be the final nail in the coffin for an already out-of-touch government with no economic or job creation strategy to speak of. Maybe one day we will look back on this moment as the kind of desperate gamble to remain relevant that resulted in the Republican Party in the US becoming beholden to the overwhelmingly white lunatic fringe of right wing politics that the Tea Party represents in that country.

But when we see the hatred, taking some of its cues from the rhetoric of the Parti Quebecois, starting to poison everyday life the way it did for the victim of a racist tirade on a bus in Montreal recently, it’s awfully hard to feel smug about the situation.

By now you’ve probably heard about the case of Mark Marek. He’s the Canadian guru of gore whose website peddles snuff films and all manner ugly of human depravity to millions of online users.

In a high profile case with connections to the ongoing trial of Luca Magnotta, alleged butcher of a gay Chinese student last summer in Montreal, Marek was contacted by someone with a horrific video of the savage murder and naturally couldn’t pass on posting such a juicy piece of unconscionable human misery. The video (1 ice pick, 1 lunatic) quickly went viral and became an internet sensation, and, to the horror of decent folks all over world, though not to Magnotta himself, the man most likely behind it became a household name.

Though Marek was released on bail by the Edmonton Police, it is only a matter of time before his case comes before a judge. At which point he will be prosecuted on the basis of an obscure section of Canada’s Criminal Code that deals with offences “tending to corrupt morals.” If that weren’t old fashioned enough for your tastes, the provision from the 1892 law still includes phonographs!

Marek has done himself no favours whatsoever with his bizarre rambling statements. Some are in his own words, such as when he claimed that “God and truth” are on his side. Others are through a spokesperson, like when he recently posted a long-winded and, at times, farcical letter in which he made this terribly humble assessment of his lot in life: “This charge represents the most severe violation of the most fundamental human right in modern history! ”

Gosh! I suppose he’s never heard of the holocaust!??! Oh wait; he’s also a holocaust denier. Alright then, let’s just forget about the loathsome scumbag at the centre of this case for a moment and deal with the principle of freedom of expression at stake in this matter.

The question remains: is it right for the state to attempt to censor the exercise of freedom of expression, in modern liberal democracy by means of an admittedly archaic provision of the obscenity laws?

First of all, let us dismiss the superficial similarities between this case and the case of Remy Couture, the Quebec special effects artist who was rightly acquitted by the Quebec Court of Appeals on charges of corrupting public morals. While both cases involve alleged crimes under section 163 of the code, there was no suggestion that Couture had ever remotely broken any hate speech laws. Nor, for that matter, was there ever any evidence that the videos he produced caused any harm to the participants or the public interest.

By contrast, Marek knows full well that the subjects of his videos harm those directly involved in their making. In other words, unlike Couture, this isn’t about disseminating phony violence, realistic though it might have been; these are bona fide snuff films in which people have been maimed, killed, tortured or worse.

The reality of freedom expression (section 2), as those who read my blog regularly know, is that it is not absolute in Canada and never has been. We have section 1 of the Charter precisely for this reason. So that free speech can be limited by law, provided the infringement is minimal, proportionate with the stated objective of the law, and “demonstrably justified, in a free and democratic society,” as the saying goes.

That is why the courts have ruled over and over again against child pornographers, hate speech and, in some cases, pornography that is degrading towards women. Marek’s website meets all these standards, and then some, and thus should not benefit from the legal protection afforded by the Charter to all Canadians.

If there is one thing about this election that scares the shit of me—and should scare you as well—it’s the shocking declaration of Jean Francois Lisée, the self-proclaimed savior of the increasingly-ugly Parti Québecois.

Lisée said that a PQ government would not hesitate to use the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ notwithstanding clause (yes, that’s the same constitution that he says was rammed down Quebec’s throat in ‘82!), just as Quebec has done ever since the Supreme Court found sections of Bill 101 unconstitutional.

He told an audience of radical Péquistas that his government would “have no hesitation to use the notwithstanding clause as a preventive measure,” against what he called the “Canadian” judges that sit on the court (ignoring that three of the current judges are from Québec). This was nothing short of a call for lawlessness in Québec.

And this is by no means a rogue element in the PQ. Pauline Marois may have her strong points (I’ll get back to you on that one!) but upholding the constitution is not one of them. If we look at the PQ platform in this election, we find a plethora of potential constitutional violations, some so outrageous, they’re beyond belief.

Let’s begin with the most notorious: applying bill 101 to Colleges (CÉGEP) in Quebec. Discriminatory policies has always been controversial with the courts, but this measure takes discrimination against allophones in Quebec to new extremes. They are already forced to send their children to French high schools under the current law (lets leave aside the passerelle schools loophole). Now the PQ is shrieking that students are not learning enough French and will have to go to French CÉGEPS, as well.

Aside from the fact that they are delivering the coup de grâce to the English schools that are increasingly dependant on immigrants and their children for business, they are also infringing on a number of basic Charter rights with this excessive measure. Namely: liberty (section 7) and equality (section 15) since this measure would only apply to allophones and perhaps francophones whose parents didn’t attend English schools. There are no valid arguments that this undermining of basic liberty and equality could conceivably be saved by section 1 and justifiable ‘in a free and democratic’ society.

Ditto for the PQ’s ‘secular charter’. Let’s set aside for the moment the obvious hypocrisy of allowing some religious symbols (i.e. crucifix in the National Assembly) and not others, and just look at the legality of what’s being proposed. Can we ever square the idea of fundamental religious freedom guaranteed by the Charter (section 2) with a state imposed secularism? The answer is, of course, an emphatic no.

Finally, will the PQ ever pull of their nefarious plot to prevent non-francophones from running for public office through some sort of French language proficiency test? We know that Marois had since reneged on the piece of bloody red meat to her hungry radical separatist base, but that fact that she had to reconsider her position on the issue, speaks volumes about her true intentions.

If this is what the PQ has in mind for the lucky few who will be eligible for their precious Quebec ‘passport’, I think I’ll hold on to my Canadian passport for the time being, thank you very much.