Mormon church backs deal to allow medical marijuana in Utah
By LINDSAY WHITEHURST
Friday, October 5
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Mormon church joined lawmakers, the governor and advocates to back a deal Thursday that would legalize medical marijuana in conservative Utah after months of fierce debate.
The compromise comes as people prepare to vote in November on an insurgent medical marijuana ballot initiative that held its ground despite opposition from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Gov. Gary Herbert said he’ll call lawmakers into a special session after the midterm election to pass the compromise into law regardless of how the initiative fares. If it passes, it will be revised under the terms of the deal. It if fails, the Legislature would consider a law under the new framework.
The agreement in such a conservative state underscores the nation’s changing attitude toward marijuana. Medical use now is legal in more than 30 states and also is on the November ballot in Missouri. So-called recreational marijuana goes before voters in Michigan and North Dakota. If passed, it will be a first for a Midwestern state.
The Utah-based faith had opposed the ballot proposal over fears it could lead to more broad use, but ranking global leader Jack Gerard said they’re “thrilled” to be a part of the effort to “alleviate human pain and suffering.”
Though it still must go to a vote, the deal has the key backing of both the church and leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature, who said the regulations in the hard-won agreement have their seal of approval. Unlike the ballot initiative, the compromise won’t allow people to grow their own marijuana if they live too far from a dispensary. It also doesn’t allow certain types of edible marijuana that could appeal to children, like cookies and brownies.
“I will do everything in my power to ensure this compromise passes in the special session,” said Utah Senate president Wayne Niederhauser.
Medical marijuana advocates are backing the deal to avoid wrangling and uncertainty that could continue if the ballot initiative passes.
“There will be medical cannabis here in our day in Utah,” said advocate DJ Schanz. The two sides agreed to scale back media campaigns supporting and opposing the ballot measure known as Proposition 2.
Not all medical-marijuana advocates were convinced: Christine Stenquist with the group Truce said she remains skeptical about the deal and urged continued support for the ballot proposal.
Smoking marijuana would not be allowed under the ballot proposal. It instead allows edible forms, lotions or electronic cigarettes.
While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposed the ballot measure, leaders also made first-ever public statement supporting the use of medical marijuana if prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacy. The church’s positions carry outsized sway in its home state.
The faith had long frowned upon medical marijuana use because of a key church health code called the “Word of Wisdom,” which prohibits coffee as well as alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.
Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh clears crucial Senate hurdle
By LISA MASCARO and ALAN FRAM
Friday, October 5
WASHINGTON (AP) — A deeply divided Senate pushed Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination past a key procedural hurdle Friday, setting up a likely final showdown on Saturday in a spellbinding battle that’s seen claims of long-ago sexual assault by the nominee threaten President Donald Trump’s effort to tip the court rightward for decades.
The Senate voted 51-49 to limit debate, defeating Democratic efforts to scuttle the nomination with endless delays and moving the chamber toward a climax of a fight that has captivated the country since summer. With Republicans controlling the chamber 51-49, one Republican voted to stop the nomination, one Democrat to send it further.
Of the four lawmakers who had not revealed their decisions until Friday — all moderates — Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona voted yes, as did Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted not to move the nomination ahead.
While the vote was a victory for the GOP, lawmakers can vote differently on the climactic confirmation roll call, which seems likely Saturday afternoon. Collins told reporters she would announce later Friday how she would go.
That left unclear whether Friday’s tally signaled that the 53-year-old federal appellate judge was on his way to the nation’s highest court, though it would be unusual for lawmakers to switch their votes on such a high-profile issue.
Confirmation would be a crowning achievement for Trump, his conservative base and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Murkowski sat solemnly during the roll call and whispered “No” when it was her turn to vote. As the tally neared an end, she spoke with Collins, a friend. The pair was surrounded by colleagues from both parties after the vote.
All four lawmakers who’d been undeclared said little or nothing to reporters as they left the chamber.
Trump weighed in shortly after the roll call was announced, tweeting, “Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting ‘YES’ to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!”
Vice President Mike Pence, who could have broken a 50-50 tie, watched the vote from the White House. He is heading to New York for a congressional fundraiser Friday but planned to be back in Washington for the final vote.
Friday’s procedural vote occurred a day after the Senate received a roughly 50-page FBI report on the sexual assault allegations, which Trump ordered only after wavering GOP senators forced him to do so.
Republicans said the secret document — which described interviews agents conducted with 10 witnesses — failed to find anyone who could corroborate allegations by his two chief accusers, Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Democrats belittled the bureau’s findings, saying agents constrained by the White House hadn’t reached out to numerous other people with potentially important information.
The vote occurred against a backdrop of smoldering resentment by partisans on both sides. That fury was reflected openly by thousands of boisterous anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators who bounced around the Capitol complex for days, confronting senators in office buildings and even reportedly near their homes.
On the Senate floor, lawmakers’ comments underscored the lingering bitterness.
“What left wing groups and their Democratic allies have done to Judge Kavanaugh is nothing short of monstrous,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said on the chamber’s floor before the vote. He accused Democrats of using destructive, unwarranted personal attacks on the nominee and even encouraging the protesters, saying, “They have encouraged mob rule.”
Dianne Feinstein of California, that committee’s top Democrat, said Kavanaugh’s testimony at last week’s dramatic Judiciary panel hearing should “worry us all,” citing “a hostility and belligerence that is unbecoming” of a Supreme Court nominee.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the fight “a sorry epilogue to the brazen theft of Justice Scalia’s seat.” That reflected Democrats’ lasting umbrage over Republicans’ 2016 refusal to even consider Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia.
When Trump nominated Kavanaugh in July, Democrats leapt to oppose him, saying that past statements and opinions showed he’d be a threat to the Roe v. Wade case that assured the right to abortion. They said he also seemed ready to knock down President Barack Obama’s health care law and to rule for Trump if federal authorities probing his 2016 campaign’s connections to Russia initiate legal action.
But that evolved into a late-summer spectacle after Ford accused Kavanaugh of trying to rape her at an alcohol-infused high school gathering in 1982, when both were teenagers. Two other women also emerged and accused him of other incidents of sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh has denied all the charges.
Under pressure from wavering Republicans, GOP leaders agreed to an extraordinary Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week that mesmerized the nation as Ford nervously recounted her story and said she was “100 percent” certain that Kavanaugh was her attacker.
A fuming Kavanaugh strode into the same packed hearing room that afternoon and said he, too, was “100 percent” certain the incident had not occurred. He angrily accused Democrats of a “search and destroy” mission, fueled by their hatred of Trump.
AP reporters Mary Clare Jalonick, Matthew Daly, Padmananda Rama, Kenneth Thomas and Catherine Lucey contributed.
28 year prison sentence caps long downfall for ‘Suge’ Knight
By ANDREW DALTON
AP Entertainment Writer
Friday, October 5
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Marion “Suge” Knight was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in prison for mowing down and killing a Compton businessman in a case that completed the former rap music mogul’s downfall from his heyday as one of the biggest — and most feared — names in the music industry.
Knight, 53, will now likely live out most, if not the rest, of his life in a California prison. He showed no emotion in court Thursday as relatives of Terry Carter, the man he killed, described their loved one as a devoted family man and peacemaker.
Carter was killed after Knight and one of his longtime rivals, Cle “Bone” Sloan, started fighting outside a Compton burger stand in January 2015. Knight was upset about his portrayal in an N.W.A. biopic, “Straight Outta Compton,” which Sloan was serving as a consultant on. Knight clipped Sloan with his pickup truck, seriously injuring him, before speeding through the parking lot and running over Carter and fleeing.
While Carter’s relatives said they hoped Knight’s lengthy sentence will bring them peace, many had no kind words for the Death Row Records co-founder, whom they criticized for showing a complete lack of remorse.
Carter’s daughter Crystal called Knight a “low-life thug,” ”career criminal” and “a disgusting, selfish disgrace to the human species.
“I ask that you sentence this unrepentant, remorseless, cold, callous menace to society to the maximum of 28 years,” she told a judge.
Before Thursday’s hearing, Knight had already agreed to his lengthy prison term by pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter and avoiding a trial on murder and attempted murder charges that could have resulted in a life sentence if he was convicted. The sentencing ended a nearly four-year court saga that included frequent outbursts by Knight, 53, who also collapsed in court during one appearance and shuffled his defense team 16 times.
Between the restrictions of the three-strikes law and the time Knight has already served, he’ll likely spend roughly 20 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole.
Knight, Dr. Dre and rapper the D.O.C. founded Death Row Records in the immediate aftermath of the break-up of N.W.A. The label’s records, including Dre’s first solo album “The Chronic” and Snoop Dogg’s debut “Doggystyle,” are considered classics of the genre that defined an era.
Tupac Shakur became the label’s star artist later in the 90s before he was shot and killed in Las Vegas in 1996, while riding in a car driven by Knight.
Shakur’s death brought on decline for the label, which led to decades of decline for Knight himself.
Many of his associates and rap rivals from the era like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Sean “Diddy Combs” went on to become warmly accepted actors, businessmen and media personalities who are now able to do things like host parties in the Hamptons and co-host a cooking show with Martha Stewart.
Knight went in the opposite direction, losing Death Row after it went into bankruptcy in 2006, serving time in prison, and having a knack for being near violence that eventually caught up with him.
Nearly two dozen of Carter’s relatives packed the courtroom Thursday.
Carter’s daughter, Nekaya Carter, said she hopes that the end of the courtroom saga can bring her some peace.
“I wanted justice for my dad and now we’ve finally got it, kind of,” she said. She then addressed Knight directly despite the judge’s instructions not to. “My dad can finally rest in peace while you live out the rest of your life in prison.”
His sister, Jessica Carter, told Los Angeles Superior Court Ronald Coen, “He was so much more than the person the defendant killed with his truck.”
There have been disputed accounts of why Carter had been at the scene, but his family said he often acted as a community mediator and peacemaker.
“This wasn’t no cat who went after nobody,” Carter’s brother-in-law Damu Visha said in court. “He helped people.”
The death was captured on surveillance video, and family members described their anguish in having to see it repeatedly, and chastised the media for showing it so often.
Coen appeared moved by the family’s words and offered his own condolences.
“If it hasn’t been said by anyone else, Coen said, “let me tell you, that my heart goes out to you.”
Most victim’s family members spoke of the need to forgive Knight for their own peace of mind.
“I hope and I pray that we find forgiveness,” Terry Carter’s cousin Patricia Hawkins said. “But it won’t be today.”
Follow Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton .
HISPANIC AND LATINX HERITAGE POETRY FESTIVAL
Ohio Wesleyan University to Host Two-Day Event Oct. 16-17
DELAWARE, Ohio – In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Ohio Wesleyan University will welcome poets with roots in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Chile, Peru, Nicaragua, and Mexico to take part in a two-day Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Poetry Festival.
The festival will be held Oct. 16-17 and will include the following free community events:
6-8 p.m. Oct. 16 – All guest poets will participate in a Poetry Festival Reading, in Room 301 of Merrick Hall, 65 S. Sandusky St., Delaware.
Noon-1 p.m. Oct. 16 – Dreamer poet Rossy Evelin Lima (Mexico) will deliver “Undocumented Dream,” a TEDxTalk about her experience as an immigrant writer in the United States, in Room 301 of Merrick Hall. Once a dreamer student, Lima holds a Ph.D. in linguistics and is an international award-winning poet. She has been awarded the Gabriela Mistral Award by the National Hispanic Honor Society, the Premio Internazionale di Poesia Altino in Italy, and the International Latino Book Award, among others. She is president and founder of the Latin American Foundation for the Arts, founder of the International Latin American Poetry Festival (FeIPoL), and founder of Jade Publishing.
6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 – All guest poets will participate in a Poetry Festival Reading, in Benes Room C of Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave., Delaware.
In addition to Lima, other guest poets presenting at Ohio Wesleyan’s second Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Poetry Festival are:
Manuel Iris (Mexico), poet and educator recently named Poet Laureate of the City of Cincinnati, Ohio. Iris received the National award of poetry Merida in 2009 for his book Notebook of Dreams, and the Regional award of poetry Rodulfo Figueroa for his book The Disguises of Fire in 2014. He holds a Ph.D. in Romance Languages from the University of Cincinnati.
Amado Lascar (Chile), poet and member of the Collective of Young Writers between 1983-86, marked by the military dictatorship of September 11, 1973. The deep cultural effect of the 17 years of implementation of neoliberalism in Chile is incorporated in his writings. Lascar currently lives in Athens, Ohio, where he has been a professor of Latin American literature since 2002.
Linda Morales Caballero (Peru), poet and a graduate from Hunter College with an M. A. in Hispanic-American Literature. She has published Desde el umbral, Circunferencia de la palabra, Miradas de Nueva York, Poemas vivos: el Hombre adivinado, Poemas tuyos, Collage, Encantamiento, and El libro de los enigmas a short-fiction book.
Yrene Santos (Dominican Republic), poet and co-organizer of The Americas Poetry Festival of New York. She teaches at City University of New York and St. John’s University. Her books include Septiembre casi termina, Me sorprendió geométrica, Por el asombro, Por si alguien llega, El incansable juego and Después de la lluvia.
Carlos Satizábal (Colombia), poet, associate professor at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and director of its Master of Arts in Creative Writing. He also is an actor and theater director. His poetry collection, La llama inclinada / The Inclined Flame (recently translated by Jennifer Rathbun and published in New York by Artepoetica Press, 2018), won the National Prize for Unpublished Poetry in 2012.
Nicasio Urbina (Nicaragua), poet, received his Ph.D. from Georgetown University. He has published eight books of literary criticism, short stories, and poetry, and has edited eight books on different topics. Some of his book titles are Sintaxis de un signo, Viajemas, Poesía reunida 1984-2014.
Professors Abeer Abdel-Hafez (Egypt) of Ohio Wesleyan and Jennifer Rathbun of Ashland University, internationally renowned and extensively published poetry specialists and translators, will provide readings of some of the translations at the community events.
Ohio Wesleyan’s Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Poetry Festival was created through the work of the National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Planning Committee, including students from Viva LatinX, Ohio Wesleyan’s Latin American student association, and Juan Armando Rojas Joo, professor of Modern Foreign Languages and associate chief diversity officer.
“In Latin America, poetry festivals are organized to build a sense of community, where creative freedom, equity and multiculturalism can be celebrated,” said Rojas (Mexico), who has published six books of poetry. “We hope that many members of the Ohio Wesleyan and Delaware community can take advantage of these cultural activities and enjoy this unique experience.”
Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Modern Foreign Languages at www.owu.edu/MFL.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.
Massacres, disappearances and 1968: Mexicans remember the victims of a ‘perfect dictatorship’
October 5, 2018
Luis Gómez Romero
Senior Lecturer in Human Rights, Constitutional Law and Legal Theory, University of Wollongong
Luis Gómez Romero does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Wollongong provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.
Ten days before the opening ceremony of the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, uniformed soldiers and rooftop snipers opened fire on student protesters in a plaza in the capital city’s Tlatelolco neighborhood.
Hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators, who were rallying against the country’s semi-authoritarian government, were gunned down.
Foreign correspondents reporting from Tlatelolco estimated that about 300 young people died, although the toll of the Oct. 2, 1968 massacre remains contested. Over a thousand people who survived the shooting were arrested.
Tlateloloco was not the first time Mexico’s government would send the army in to kill its own citizens. Nor, as my research on crime and security in the country shows, was it the last.
Mexico’s perfect dictatorship
Technically speaking, Mexico was a democracy in 1968. But it was run by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, the same party that governs it today under President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Using press manipulation, electoral fraud and coercion, the PRI won every presidential election and most local elections from 1929 to 2000. In the words of the Nobel Prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa, it was a “perfect dictatorship” – an authoritarian regime that “camouflaged” its permanence in power with the superficial practice of democracy.
The PRI kept kept a tight rein on Mexico during its 80-year rule.
In the 20th century, Mexico had none of the wild violence that ravages the country today. It prospered economically and modernized rapidly.
But the PRI demanded acquiescence in exchange for this peace and stability.
The party bought off potential political opponents and ostracized members who wanted to reform the party. It gave rabble-rousing union leaders positions of power. It killed, jailed, tortured and disappeared leftists, dissidents, peasants or Marxists who challenged its authority.
But it did so in secret. When soldiers sent by President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz killed scores of students exercising their constitutional right to peaceful protest in broad daylight and cold blood, something the Mexico’s national consciousness shifted and snapped.
It would take Mexicans another four decades to unseat the PRI, electing in 2000 Vicente Fox of the National Action Party – the first non-PRI president to run modern Mexico.
But most thinkers and historians agree that Tlatelolco was when democracy’s first seeds were planted. After the massacre, a “tradition of resistance” took root in Mexico.
1968’s summer of revolution
The Tlatelolco massacre came after a tense summer of student demonstrations.
Triggered by an aggressive police intervention in a gang fight in downtown Mexico City in July 1968, young Mexicans – like their counterparts in the United States and worldwide – engaged in various acts of civil disobedience.
Throughout late summer, Mexico City saw peaceful marches, demonstrations and rallies. The students demanding free speech, accountability for police and military abuses, the release of political prisoners and dialogue with their government.
President Gustavo Díaz Ordez before the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. German Federal Archive/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA
The uprising brought bad publicity at an inconvenient time. Mexico was about to host the 1968 Olympics. President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz wanted to showcase a modern nation at the forefront of emerging economies – not unruly leftists decrying an authoritarian government.
Díaz Ordaz said the protesters were Communist agents sent by the Cubans and Soviets to infiltrate his regime – a claim the Central Intelligence Agency debunked in a now-declassified Sept. 1968 report.
By early October, with the Olympics rapidly approaching, the government had decided to put an end to the unrest. So when students planned an Oct. 2 rally at the Plaza of the Three Cultures in Tlatelolco, Díaz Ordaz sent undercover agents and soldiers in.
Their mission, as some of the raid’s organizers later admitted, was to delegitimize Mexico’s pro-democracy movement by inciting violence. Plainclothed soldiers from Mexico’s “Batallón Olimpia,” created to maintain order during the Olympics, opened fire on the crowded plaza.
Díaz Ordaz claimed that he had saved Mexico from a communist coup.
But even Lyndon B. Johnson administration’s – which had no sympathy for communism – described the crackdown as a “gross over-reaction by the security forces.”
No one was ever punished for the murders.
50 years to freedom
Each year, Mexicans commemorate the Tlatelolco massacre with marches and rallies.
For the past four years, these events have coincided with nationwide demonstrations over the unexplained disappearance of 43 student activists from Ayotzinapa Teachers’ College, in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, on Sept. 26, 2014.
The students were traveling via bus to Mexico City to attend a commemorative rally for the victims of Tlatelolco and engage in civil acts of disobedience along the way – an annual tradition at the college.
According to the government’s official investigation, police in the town of Iguala confronted the caravan under instructions from the town’s mayor. His wife had a party that day, the report says, and he didn’t want any disturbances.
The officers opened fire, killing six students on the bus. The remaining 43 passengers were then allegedly taken to a police station, where they were handed over to a local drug gang, Guerreros Unidos, which is alleged to have ties to the mayor. Gang members say they took the 43 students to a local dump, killed them and burned their bodies.
That horrifying tale is the official story endorsed by President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose six-year term ends in December. Iguala’s mayor, his wife and at least 74 other people were arrested for the disappearance and murder of the Ayotzinapa students.
But an international team of forensic investigators could not corroborate this story. They found no evidence of the students’ remains at the dump. In fact, they determined, it was scientifically impossible to burn 43 corpses at that site.
They believe it is more likely that the Mexican army – and therefore the federal government – was involved in the disappearances.
In June 2018, a federal court re-opened the Ayotzinapa case and ordered the creation of an Investigative Commission for Justice and Truth to clarify what really happened to the 43 students.
“They were taken alive,” their parents insist. “We want them back alive.”
Transforming Mexico, again
Forty-six years after the Tlatelolco massacre, almost to the day, this brutal abuse of power by President Peña Nieto and his PRI party – which had retaken power in 2012 – rekindled something of the revolutionary spirit of 1968.
In July, Mexican voters once again rejected the PRI, handing a landslide presidential victory to Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a leftist outsider who promised to “transform” the country.
López Obrador, who takes office in December, supports launching a new investigation into the 43 missing students.
But he also plans to continue using Mexico’s military – the same efficient killing force that fired on students at Tlatelolco and allegedly disappeared them in Ayotzinapa – in law enforcement duties.
This, in my assessment, is a dangerous mistake.
According to an analysis done by Mexico’s CIDE university, between 2007 and 2014, in armed confrontations the army killed eight suspected criminals for each one it wounded and arrested. In most countries, the ratio goes the other way.
As CIDE legal scholar Catalina Pérez Correa has written, using Mexico’s army as police carries the same risks today it did in 1968 – and in 2014, for that matter.
President-elect López Obrador has declared that under his government Mexico’s military will be not an “instrument of war” but an “army of peace.”
The ghosts of Tlatelolco and Ayotzinapa are a reminder that all Mexicans should have their doubts.
New premier, same old story: Québec’s longtime anti-niqab efforts
October 4, 2018
Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University
Hannah Dick does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Carleton University provides funding as a member of The Conversation CA.
One day after the surprise victory of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) in the recent Québec election, Premier-elect François Legault told a news conference that he plans to invoke the notwithstanding clause to finally pass legislation that will ban religious symbols for employees in “positions of authority” throughout the province.
But even though the Québec election is being described as a landmark shift in political power, the threat to ban religious symbols throughout the province’s public service sector is nothing new.
Politicians in the province have been trying to pass various religious symbols bans for the past decade, including the Parti Québecois’s sweeping Values Charter from 2013 outlawing “conspicuous” religious symbols for anyone giving or receiving public services.
Under the leadership of Philippe Couillard, the Liberals passed more modest legislation: Bill 62, which singled out full-face coverings in the public service sector, was passed in October 2017. But the law was quickly stayed by a provincial judge.
Challenged by civil liberty groups
Each of these attempts has been challenged by groups like the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
These organizations point out that much of the proposed legislation has singled out a small number of Muslim women who choose to wear the full-face covering niqab rather than applying broadly to all religious symbols.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has played a key role in preventing the widespread adoption of these laws, which appear only to circumscribe the religious symbols of minority groups.
Indeed, since the 2013 Values Charter, legislation banning religious symbols has included exemptions for “the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that testify to its history.”
This clause effectively exempts Catholics from the secularization mandate by redefining their religious symbols as “cultural” and “historical” rather than religious (and, notably, creates an exception for the large crucifix that hangs at the head of the National Assembly). It is yet unclear whether the CAQ’s attempt will include a similar exemption.
PQ Premier Pauline Marois also made threats about her party invoking the notwithstanding clause to pass the Values Charter in 2013.
But the PQ had a minority government at the time, and Marois unsuccessfully risked an election to get a broader vote of confidence.
Legault’s comments, in comparison, come on the heels of Premier Doug Ford’s threat to use the notwithstanding clause for the first time in Ontario, suggesting that the Charter has become something of a pawn in the struggle between right-of-centre provincial populists and the federal Liberals.
That Legault’s comments also come before he enters the premier’s office — and backed by a majority government — signals that his attempt to pass a “secularization” bill might be successful.
If that’s the case, the CAQ’s success where other parties have failed will come at the cost of both civil rights in the province and the protective capacity of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.