The Quebec government is seeking to build on the success of the Charter of Quebec Values with a complimentary Charter of Quebec Norms.
“Values and norms/mores go hand-in-hand,” Premier Pauline Marois noted after unveiling the ambitious plan at a news conference Wednesday. “Quebecers have overwhelmingly embraced the Charter of Quebec Values – [the Norms Charter] simply builds on this momentum.”
As with the Values Charter, public employees would not be allowed to overtly follow social mores and norms at work. The Norms Charter would apply to judges, prosecutors, police, teachers, school employees, hospital workers, municipal staff, and public daycare workers.
In order to ensure a smooth transition to a norm-free society, Marois said some public bodies will be able to defer implementation for a five-year period. Daycare workers, elementary school teachers and early-care providers would not be eligible for this opt-out. “These people work with our children during their formative years – if we are to succeed in removing all societal norms, our children must be the top priority. The subversive forces of values, norms, and mores must not reach our children.”
The Charter would also require that anyone receiving services from a public body would not be permitted “conspicuous” observation of societal norms & mores.
Examples of societal norms to be banned under the Charter:
- Upon entering an elevator, immediately turning to face the doors;
- Joining the end of a line-up (rather than middle or front);
- Not talking in a movie theatre;
- Daily tooth brushing;
- Shaking hands;
- Picking up after your dog;
- Not farting/burping/spitting in public;
- Chewing with a closed mouth
“Madame Marois has a plan. She has an agenda. She’s playing a disgusting political game – literally – because it seems to be the only thing that is able to distract from the serious economic challenges that we’re facing as a province and as a country,” Federal Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau said.
“But Quebecers and Canadians are better than that.” Trudeau noted that he will exercise civil disobedience by continuing to shake the hands of constituents in his Papineau riding.
The minister in charge of the charter, Bernard Drainville, acknowledged that norms are more difficult to regulate than elements of the Values Charter. “We expect self-regulation will play a critical role.”
To address rare circumstances of conformity to norms and mores, the Quebec government will establish a toll-free Tip Line. “For example, if you suspect that your colleague is withholding farts; washing their clothes routinely; or isn’t expressing every thought that enters their head during a movie, we implore Quebecers to report this subversive activity to the Tip Line’s team of professional investigators. They are charged with ensuring full Charter compliance.”