|Old-school Montreal parking meter. (source)|
This reminded me of a post that I've been meaning to put out there about the increasingly heated debate on secularism here in Quebec.
PQ minister criticizes parking accommodation for observant Jews
Yes, I know it's way back in May. This whole house-buying thing has really thrown me behind my post schedule. Anyway, I have been hinting at increased debate up here about Secularism and the separation of religion and politics for awhile. There's a lot going on!
On the one hand, we have the Court of Appeals ruling that prayer before city council meeting is just fine in Saguenay. On the other hand, we have the provincial government telling Jews to just suck it up when it comes to the election falling on the Jewish holy day Rosh Hashanah. And really, that's just the tip of the iceberg. There is also Turbangate where the Quebec Soccer Federation told Sikhs to just eat it and take their turbans off while playing soccer. More on that one later.
So anyway, back to the special parking rules for observant Jews.
Quebec Citizenship Minister Bernard Drainville has criticized a tradition in a west-end Montreal borough which accommodates the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.
For nearly three decades, municipal authorities in Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grace have removed parking restrictions at that time, to allow observant Jews not to have to move their cars.Yeah, so basically, every year around this time, special coverings are placed over the parking meters so Jews can leave their cars parked on the street without incurring a ticket. This is because they are not allowed to operate motor vehicles during this time. It says so in the holy book. It's 2,000 years old so it must be true and we're supposed to respect it.
How did all of this get started? Apparently there's been no problem with this for the past 30 years.
|NYC Potholes (source).|
The issue was raised this week by some municipal blue collar workers, who complained they'd been taken off pothole-filling and other duties in order to cover up parking signs for the Shavuot holiday on Wednesday.Where are these dedicated pothole fillers? Because, a cursory look around Montreal streets implies they may be the only ones in town.
I cannot resist making a little side comment here. I think that if the temporary redirection of some city workers to cover some signs has any measurable impact on the rate of pothole-filling in this city than we need more city workers filling potholes.
Okay, anyway. On principle, I get what the pothole-fillers are saying.
PQ Minister Bernard Drainville - the very same who said we can't go around bowing to churches and synagogues when we plan our elections - had this to say about free parking for Jews.
"You cannot start having parking rules that are different according to your religion," Drainville said Wednesday. "There will be no end to it."
"How can we live together in the same society, if we start having different parking regulations according to different religions?"I don't know if it's at the top of my priority list, but I again, I get his point.
I mean, while these people get to leave their cars sitting at the side of the road, parking places are taken up that others may wish to use. My taxes are paying for these government workers to put up these coverings. Parking meters are not pulling in revenue for the city (or wherever revenue goes in this corrupt place. hint: not the streets ).
An NDG city councillor defends the practice using tactics we've seen before concerning state-religion entanglement: Everyone does it - even Vancouver and Toronto!
“We’re not the only municipality that does it. We’re not the only municipality in Quebec that does it, either. It’s essentially a Montreal value to promote tolerance and cooperation,” Rotrand told CBC’s Daybreak program. “We don’t do anything that Toronto and Vancouver don’t do.”I'm not sure if I would equate tolerance with the granting of special parking privileges. Nobody is stopping them from having their holiday. Nobody is forcing them to drive their cars to the synagogue and park them on city streets.
But back to the tactics. Even the author of the article chips in the most common one: We've been doing it for a really long time! Nobody's complained yet, so it must be just fine!
For nearly three decades the Montreal district has eased parking restrictions so that observant Jews don’t have to move their cars to avoid getting a ticket during the holiday.
No sign of what would happen if a Catholic, Buddhist or atheist demanded his own parking accommodation. What if they simply parked their cars on the street with the covered meters as soon as they were put on? Would they be forced to move their cars?
Anyway, Barbara has a clever and funny solution to the problem.
Surely there is a compromise solution? I’m glad you asked, because I have one.
I suggest the synagogues in the relevant areas hire what used to be known as a “shabbas goy.” The Shabbas goy was – perhaps still is? – a gentile, obviously not bound by restrictions against work, who would come to the observant family’s home on Shabbat and holidays to turn lights on and off, start ovens and perform whatever other tasks were forbidden to family members. In this case the “parking goy” could move all the cars to the other side of the street whenever necessary at a nugatory cost to each individual.
Yeah. Okay. I guess that would work out fine. And you know what, I have absolutely no problem with this solution. In fact, I know someone who was actually paid to go on vacation with an Orthodox Jewish family and cook and operate all things electrical for them. So I know it's done.
... Or they could just settle for what I would have to do if I had to park my car somewhere for awhile. Find somewhere to put it. Around the block or even at home and take a bus or a taxi.
... Or the synagogue could arrange parking at a local parking lot. They could even have people bussed in and out for a very reasonable fee, I'm sure.
Look, parking in this city is a scarce resource and for the past eight years I've had to move my car twice a week without fail from one side of my street to the other to avoid a ticket. Everyone needs to do this - it's the rules. So if Jews at this synagogue need to make special arrangements, then sure - whatever it takes. But no special privileges. Make arrangements like everyone else.
You know, stuff that normal people who do not have the city accommodating them with special parking benefits have to do to avoid tickets. People like me. People like everyone else.