Quebec Politicians Unite in Defending Christmas Traditions

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Christmas lights and decorations are seen in the old historic Quartier Petit Champlain in Quebec City Wednesday, December 21, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

In a rare show of unity, Quebec’s political parties came together on Wednesday to adopt a motion defending the celebration of Christmas. This move at the National Assembly in Quebec City stands in contrast to the position of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which has suggested that the holiday could constitute systemic religious discrimination.

Unanimous Motion to Preserve Christmas Celebrations

According to The Canadian Press, the motion, which denounces comments made by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, was unanimously adopted without abstention by the 109 elected officials present. It asserts a rejection of “any polarization around unifying events which have been part of Quebec heritage for several generations.”

Political Response to Commission’s Report

Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette vocally defended the province’s stance in a press scrum, stating, “Honestly, we will continue to celebrate Christmas, and then we will not apologize for celebrating Christmas in Quebec.” His remarks highlight the province’s commitment to preserving its cultural traditions amidst external criticisms.

The commission, in its “Reflection Paper on Religious Intolerance,” argued that “discrimination against religious minorities in Canada is rooted in Canada’s history of colonialism,” citing public holidays as an example of systemic religious discrimination.

Christopher Skeete, a Coalition Avenir Québec MNA, speaks at the National Assembly of Quebec. PHOTO BY JACQUES BOISSINOT /The Canadian Press

Cross-Party Collaboration

The motion was tabled by Christopher Skeete, Minister responsible for the Fight against Racism, in collaboration with the Liberal opposition, the Parti Québécois, and two independent deputies, though Québec Solidaire did not participate. The motion invites “all Quebecers to unite during this approaching Christmas period” and was met with rounds of applause upon its adoption.

Mathieu Lévesque, the government’s deputy parliamentary leader, humorously suggested that a copy of the motion be sent to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the federal government, the House of Commons, and “Santa Claus, to the North Pole.”

Santa Claus waves to the crowd as he travels down Ste-Catherine St. in Montreal during the annual parade on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. PHOTO BY PIERRE OBENDRAUF /Montreal Gazette

Clarification from Quebec’s Human Rights Commission

In contrast, the Commission on Human Rights and Youth Rights of Quebec (CDPDJ) clarified its stance, stating that it does not associate itself with the comments of the Canadian Commission as reported. Spokesperson Geneviève Dorais-Beauregard explained in an email, “This passage from the guide aims to explain that in an employment context, the employer may have to accommodate an employee so that he can have time off during a religious holiday of his own religion.”

Cultural Significance of Christmas

Jolin-Barrette further emphasized the cultural importance of Christmas in Quebec, saying, “It’s a celebration that is shared. People come from all over Quebec, we are a welcoming land, and I think it is important to say that it is part of Quebec culture and to invite everyone to celebrate Christmas if they wish.”