But not to worry, the minister responsible, Bernard Drainville, assures us: "It will be done humanely." But of course. They will not be told to get out in a cruel way, but with care, compassion, or what the minister calls "good old common sense." It will simply be made clear to these people, as kindly as the occasion permits, that, notwithstanding their years of blameless service, their continued employment is incompatible with Quebec's common values - that their insistence on wearing the yarmulke or the turban, in accordance with the deepest teachings of their faith, has become a source of "tension" and "division" and that for that reason they will have to find other work.
There's a shift happening here that goes far beyond just Quebec. Intolerance is creeping back in to the mainstreet dialogue and even Parliamentary debate in places ranging from Hungary and Greece to our very own Quebec.
I have to admit - when I wrote "I hate to say it, but I would keep an eye out for a party further to the right of the CPC gaining some presence, too" I was particularly thinking about the inevitable rift forming between hard-right social conservatives and their more electoral-win focused brethren in places like Ontario and Alberta. It still wouldn't surprise me if some of the muzzled or turfed MLAs take their grievances as a rallying cry, turning some of their supporters against the conservative Party's that were once their home.
The angrier your foundations, the more vindictive becomes your direction. As perhaps opportunistic politicians add legitimacy to xenophobia for their own gain, the haters of our world gain that much more credibility, plus a broader platform to speak from. That Party's moving in the right direction, they can say in validated fashion; they just need to go further.
How the rest of us and, in particular, our leaders respond to this trend is of critical importance. You can't ignore it - like cancer, hatred left unchecked will inevitably spread. At the same time, you don't want to fuel the fire by creating an "us vs. them" mentality that, as in North Korea, justifies increasingly alarming decisions and actions.
This is where neuropsychology comes in.
For ages we have known, in anecdotal fashion, that courage, altruistic acts, a positive spirit and creativity are great tonics against hatred and intolerance. Thanks to advances in how we understand emotion, behaviour and the engine that drives them, we've gotten better at influencing mind and the social matrix. Its up to those who would represent the Canadian Idea - above all, strength through diversity - to borrow from neuromarketing and wage a hearts and minds campaign to counter the dangerous direction Quebec's government is taking.
This isn't a Quebec/ROC thing any more than it's a religious people/ROQ thing - it's a human thing. Politicians and their policies set the tone of the province in much the same way as different corporate leaders change the entire culture of their companies. Our ultimate goals are twofold:
1) To inoculate people against hatred and intolerance, reducing their efficacy as a populist tool.
2) To support those within Quebec who would stand against intolerance, ensuring them the safety needed to raise their voices in opposition without fear of undue reprisal.
The main tool for accomplishing this is the same it has been throughout history - education.
It's time Canada's leaders take their hand off the fear button and stop oppressing information which challenges them; that merely fuels the problem.
It's time Canadians start holding them to that - not narrow mandates and limited focus, but sustainable leadership.
Get informed, folks; get engaged - because, when we do, we can make a difference.