What am I supposed to feel when I stand across from a government employee at the SAAQ (the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec)? This employee might ask for my expired registration papers. She will tell me how much it costs to re-register my car. She will probably point out that there are unpaid parking tickets to be dealt with before she can renew my registration. “Ok, ok, I knew those tickets would catch up with me eventually.”
But what am I supposed to feel or experience when I stand across from this employee?
Apparently Bernard Landry thinks that there is something particular I should be feeling or experiencing. Specifically, he seems to think that I should be experiencing some kind of dissonance or distress on account of the hijab she is wearing.
Landry, who is the former leader of the Parti Québecois, and the former premier of the province, has recently become the point person in publicly defending Quebec’s yet-to-be released charter of secularism – a charter that would apparently prevent this nameless Quebec employee from wearing her hijab.
And from his comments on the subject, I gather that M. Landry thinks there is something deeply problematic when I stand looking at this muslim-woman-employee through the plexiglass. There she is in her colourful scarf and with her professional demeanor. And here I am with my impatient “I need to get back to work” attitude. There is a problem here, apparently.