In 1936, Maurice Duplessis had a crucifix installed in the Salon Vert, which had become blue since then, to mark a form of union between religious power and the Quebec state. “Other times, other manners”. So what justifies in today’s Quebec the maintenance of this crucifix above the seat of the Speaker of the National Assembly, and in courtrooms courthouses, public schools , hospitals, and churches?
In this latter place of worship, on the other hand, we can understand, since this is the very reason for their foundation, where the word of God is promoted. It is therefore not surprising to see a crucifix showing a Jesus on the cross, thus making reference to the salvific love of God. Here the message is clear. It refers to the religious heritage of Quebec and to the intimate beliefs and religious practices of many citizens, and even to the historical influence of Catholic religious authority over our cultural heritage for more than 400 years.
But in the National Assembly? The very institution that must represent all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs. Moreover, in the wake of the debates on secularism, Sonia Lebel, current Minister of Justice, said that “the presence of a crucifix in an institution such as the National Assembly is not incompatible with the prohibition of signs religious”. And Ms. Lebel added: “We will clearly mark the fact that Quebec is a secular society, look to the future, connect with the present. But we must not turn our backs on our past. “A past based on the Catholic religion?
That being so, what about the other religious beliefs or philosophies of all our fellow citizens in the plural reality of our society? Do not they also have a past, a present and a future? From a democratic point of view, should not we then recognize and display the signs of secularism of other religions?
Let us remember the Bouchard-Taylor report, which recommended open secularism in the province: Canada’s openness to international immigration, and consequently to new religions and religious symbols in the public space.
The mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, has decided. Rightly, and for good reason. In a context of secularism, although the crucifix has a special meaning in history and tradition in Quebec, it no longer has a reason to be in the council chamber of City Hall. Maybe elsewhere … as in a museum collection. Bravo!
Finally, let us remember that the Prime Minister, François Legault, during his election campaign brought him to power, had radically shown disfavor religious signs. Is not the crucifix a religious sign, just as the kippa, burqa, hijab, niqab, Christian cross, etc., are so many symbols of a religion?
Let’s hope that the law in the making, on secularism, “will speak on the same side of the mouth”.
Until then, do not let the crucifix divide us!