Is Celine Dion endorsing the Parti Quebecois’ values charter?

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

It appears that Quebec's 'Queen of Pop', Celine Dion, has endorsed — at least tacitly — the Parti Quebecois controversial values charter.

Here's what Dion said to Maclean's Magazine, when asked about the proposed legislation that would essentially ban public employees from wearing religious symbols in public institutions.

Q: Lucien Bouchard once called you Quebec’s greatest ambassador. With that in mind, Amnesty International just declared Quebec’s controversial charter of values as a limit on fundamental rights that further stigmatizes vulnerable women. Do you agree with Amnesty?

A: It’s a very delicate question to answer because I’ll hurt some people and please others but you have to have an opinion. For me, it’s not about the veil—it’s beyond that. I’m not against what people wear but if you go to the hospital, and you are in Quebec and we have embraced you and opened our country for you to live in a better world, you have to adapt to our rules. If the doctor is a boy or a girl, you’re gonna see the doctor that [is] sent to [treat] you. You can’t just say, “My religion doesn’t permit me to see a woman or a male doctor.” That’s the problem for me. If I’m going to see a doctor and he is gay, I’m not going to have a problem with that. It should not be an issue.

Q: Yet you’ve stood up for women’s causes throughout the years.

A: Of course! It’s just that these women who practise the things they believe in have to adapt to our country. They have to not change our laws. Because you have a lot of Anglican or veiled women in a school—you can’t just take off the [Catholic] cross from the walls, or take down Christmas trees. If I go live in their country and have to be veiled, I will.

While her answer is a bit confusing, it appears she's all for the charter.

Dion now spends most of her time in Las Vegas as part of an eight year contract to perform at Caesars Palace.

She's never really been 'political' — at least not in Canada.

Her and her husband, however, are said to be friends with media baron Pierre Karl Péladeau who is chairman of the board of directors of Hydro-Quében and believed to be angling for a political run with the PQ.

[ Related: Former PQ premier Jacques Parizeau slams Values Charter, Quebec politicians react ]

Meanwhile, Quebecers who actually live in Quebec remain deeply divided about the charter.

A Leger poll released last month and published in the Globe and Mail, suggests that 43 per cent of Quebecers support the charter while 42 per cent are against it.

Last week, Quebec's Minister of Democratic Bernard Drainville announced that the government would actually toughen the proposed bill citing an online consultation process which suggested 68 per cent of of Quebecers were "mostly" in favour of the charter.

[ Related: Thousands demonstrate in support of Quebec values charter ]

And, on Saturday, thousands of women took part in a pro-charter rally on the streets of Montreal claiming that the charter would somehow bring about gender equality.

It's expected that legislation will be introduced in the National Assembly by next spring. Because the PQ only holds a minority of the seats in the legislature, however, they will need support from at least one of the opposition parties to pass the controversial measures.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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