CETTE NOUVELLE A ÉTÉ COUVERTE EN FRANÇAIS PAR LA PRESSE / ARCHIVÉE SUR POINT DE BASCULE
According to the La Presse report, Premier Couillard promised to have a second look at Bill 59’s ‘hate speech’ provisions. The Gazette report did not explicitly mention this element of information.
Author: Caroline Plante
Source: The Montreal Gazette, August 28, 2015 (Internet version)
ST-GEORGES-DE-BEAUCE — Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Friday he doesn’t share the Muslim Council of Montreal’s view that laughing at religions should be punished.
Last week, Imam Salam Elmenyawi told committee hearings on Quebec’s proposed hate-speech legislation that mocking Islam was unacceptable.
“When you laugh at my religion, you’re laughing at me, you’re laughing at my wife, you’re laughing at the Prophet,” Elmenyawi told members of the National Assembly on Aug. 20. “If your intention is to protect people, you have to understand that for a Muslim, when you mock his religion, you attack his very person.”
Bill 59 aims to eliminate all forms of hate propaganda. The act, “to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence,” proposes an anonymous procedure for reporting hate speech to the Quebec Human Rights Commission, and would grant the commission new powers, including the power to investigate.
According to the bill, if the commission found grounds for prosecution, it could pass the file to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal. Offenders could be fined between $1,000 and $10,000 and their names would appear on the commission’s website.
Most of the groups that presented briefs to the National Assembly committee last week warned the bill could stifle dissent and hinder freedom of expression, but Elmenyawi said he thinks the bill should be widened and fines should also be given to those who disrespect religions.
Couillard told reporters at his party’s pre-session caucus in St-Georges-de-Beauce he disagreed with Elmenyawi.
“We’re still listening to people coming to the hearings, but we want to say very, very loud and clear that we don’t want to obstruct freedom of expression in Quebec. Freedom of expression means saying stupid things or even ridiculous things, and then it’s up to you, it’s up to us to say why it’s ridiculous and why it shouldn’t be said, but not to bar somebody from saying this.”
“The line has to be traced in the sand, though, and for us the line is calling for violence. This is what we want to do, this is what we want to achieve and, hopefully, with the hearings we’ll find a good balance,” Couillard said.
Full legislative menu
Liberal cabinet ministers won’t have much time to rest during the coming session of the National Assembly, which starts Sept. 15. Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée faces the additional task of defending Bill 62 — “an act to foster adherence to state religious neutrality and to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests” — and if that wasn’t prickly enough, she and her colleagues will face renewed pressure from the province’s 500,000 public-sector workers, as they battle against the government’s so-called austerity agenda and persevere in their negotiations for new collective agreements.
The premier also intends on reviewing MNAs’ remuneration and could ask his house leader, Jean-Marc Fournier, to introduce legislation, after consulting with other parties. Meanwhile, Education Minister François Blais reiterated Friday he will table sweeping changes to school governance and taxation systems this fall.
Couillard has six months to call two by-elections to fill the seats left vacant by Liberal MNAs Marguerite Blais and Gilles Ouimet, who represented the ridings of Saint-Henri—Sainte-Anne, and Fabre, respectively.
The Liberals vow to combat PQ rhetoric this fall with “facts” and “numbers.”
“I’m not going to play the game that in the past people like us, who believe strongly the future of Quebec is better assured with Canada, have played,” said Couillard, “which is to appear to be half-péquistes to become more acceptable sometimes or to just let separatists say what they want without confronting them with facts.”
“Each time they’re going to say something, they better have numbers and they better have proof of what they’re saying because we’re going to call the truth on them each time.”
Members from Québec solidaire met in St-Alphonse-de-Rodriguez on Friday to prepare for the fall session. They say they’re pleased to see more politicians talking about sovereignty.
“Is sovereignty that interesting to federalists that they insist on getting worked up about it? I think it’s rather great news,” said party co-leader Françoise David.
Point de Bascule: FILE Quebec Human Rights Commission / Many Point de Bascule articles on various aspects of Bill 59
Point de Bascule: FILE Quebec Human Rights Commission / General References on Bill 59