While I was chatting with PQ Minister Jean-François Lisée this morning, I had an epiphany. It is still legal, I understand, to have an epiphany in Secular Quebec.
While I was listening to Monsieur Lisée skate around my questions with the skills of Lars Eller, I started to worry. What if Jean-François was jealous that I had written an open letter to Pauline Marois and not extended him the same courtesy?
I know that Jean-François, of course, reads the CJAD blog religiously, so to speak. So please, JFL, consider this an open letter.
It was great hearing that you had a wonderful time in Africa. Glad to have you back, but I noticed that when I asked you about the enforcement of the charter, you suggested you were still working out the details. Exactly. An opportune moment for me then, to offer up a few modest suggestions.
Here is a great way for the Charter to protect Quebec’s secular nature and make a few bucks at the same time in case the PQ proposal to electrify the province doesn’t work out as well as intended.
I asked you what would happen if some of those kippa-keeping, hijab-wearing, turban-sporting employees of Quebec refused to take off their non-secular headgear. Would they have to pay some kind of fine?
You seemed taken aback and said you would not touch that question with an 8-foot pole.
Why not? Surely any law that is passed has to be enforced. I mean it’s supposed to be a law, not Heloise’s Helpful Hints.
Since you are still working out all the details, here are some possible points to ponder next time you get together with Madame Marois and Monsieur Drainville.
You could start modestly. For someone who insists on wearing his kippa, a $50 fine for a small, $60 for a medium and $70 for a large. Make it a $75 fine if it’s stencilled with the name of a Bar-Mitzvah boy. Add $15 if it’s velvet or handmade. If His Holiness, Pope Francis or some cardinals ever come to visit, their kippas will, of course, be exempt because they are part of a "cultural heritage.”
On to the hijabs - How about $50 for a plain one. $60 for primary colors and $70 for pastels. Add $15 if the scarf is designed by Hermès. No fine at all if it’s worn during Fashion Week.
Turbans are tough. You could decide that size matters, (see Kippas) or perhaps the fines could be based on the amount of material used, but that would require some tape measures (see OQLF).
These fines would only cover a first offence. Wild-eyed repeat offenders who insist on maintaining their religious beliefs even when they are at work could be subject to doubled fines and perhaps Deuteronomy demerit points (see highway code).
Hope this helps as we all try to unify Quebecers and maybe even make a few shekels while we’re at it.