Dept. of Fairness and Accuracy in Bureaucratic Oppression

In reaction to a proposed charter of Quebec values launched by provincial nationalists this week-a charter which seems mainly intended to ban Muslim women from wearing headscarves-L’Actualite’s Jerome Lussier suggested lightheartedly that in the interest of gender equality: “If the veils of Muslim women are to be targeted, the beards of Muslim men must likewise be targeted.”

To: Department of Promotion of Quebec Values

From: Ministry of Citizen Participation

RE: National Beard

Dear Person employed by the State,

You are no doubt aware that the government has recently promulgated a Charter of Quebec Values, which establishes once and for all the values that unite all Quebecers, without regard for national origin, age, sex, political affiliation, or personal beliefs. In effect, the proposal would establish by law that all persons resident in Quebec must think like the Parti Quebecois.

As you know, this unified national model proscribes all state employees from wearing ‘conspicuous religious symbols,’ a ban which includes among others, employees of the Finance Ministry, preschool teachers, and nurses. (The Council of Ministers has not yet decided if the ban should also apply to all recipients of public assistance; the government is awaiting an advisory opinion from the Federation of Native Quebecois on this matter). In the interest of reinforcing the neutrality and secularism of the state, our government has determined to regulate the appearances of religious minorities, thereby excluding them from public functions unless they assimilate to our cultural norms; as opposed to simply ensuring that state employees fulfill their tasks correctly.

Given that the official justification of this measure is the principle of gender equality (a principle which has it should be noted already been long enshrined in the charters of both Quebec and Canada), it is clearly essential that the proclamation of Quebec values and the numerous bans and interdictions it entails, not in any way introduce any new inequalities between men and women. Thus if the veils of Muslim women are to be targeted, the beards of Muslim men must likewise be targeted. The same goes for Jews: if the wearing of yarmulkes and beards is regulated, then female wigs must be regulated as well. (The cases of Sikh and Rastafarian hair, as well as Amish beards, will be separately treated in Memorandum CVQ189-Guidelines on Hairiness of Public Employees Who Belong to Category 3 Sects. Read likewise Booklet CVQ202 Regarding the Classification of Beliefs and Religions of Quebec, 2013).

This memorandum specifically treats beards. (For regulations concerning hair, please consult Memo CVQ147 – Guidelines on National Hair, and Acceptable Head Coverings Permitted for Representatives of the State Who Pertain to Various Religious, Cultural and Esthetic Orientations). It proposes clear guidelines for distinguishing between correct national beards and dubious ones. Until such time as the Charter of Values is declared unconstitutional, the following regulations apply to all persons employed by the state:

1.) Unless otherwise advised by the minister, this directive does not apply to persons incapable of growing a beard, viz. ‘beardless.’ For the purposes of this directive, persons of feminine gender are included under the category of ‘beardless.’ (All other legislation concerning national hairiness, the national dress-code, and national values however apply to beardless persons.)

2.) Notwithstanding Article 1, all public employees, whether bearded or beardless, are formally prohibited from wearing a fake beard for religious reasons.

3.) The wearing of a beard by a public employee is governed by the following conditions and exceptions:

a) Any person growing a real beard is obliged to justify his beard. Subject to future clarifications, cultural or esthetic justifications are generally to be accepted. Religious justifications however will trigger immediate termination or a national shave.

b) All bearded persons on the state payroll must, within 60 days of appearance of said beard, report to the clothing and hair inspection station closest to his place of residence for inspection of his national values.

c) Notwithstanding article 3(b), any person who wears and maintains a ‘three-day-stubble’ look is not obligated to report to a clothing and hair inspection station provided that the three-day-stubble is not religiously significant. (To determine if three-day-stubble is religiously significant, please refer to your Manual CVQ443 – Notes and Indications for Categorizing a Theoretically Appropriate Beard As Nationally Dubious).

4.) At such time as a bearded person on the state payroll shall appear before the Commissioner for Quebec Values, the following procedures are to be applied:

a) Any person who acknowledges that his beard is religiously significant may choose to leave his job, or choose to undergo a national shave. (The methodology of national shaving is outlined in Guide CVQ512: National Shaving For All: Tips and Techniques for Hirsute Interventions, intended for employees of the Department of Propagation of Quebec Values).

b) Any bearded person who does not consider his beard religiously significant is obligated to demonstrate that it satisfies one or more of the following exemptions, in order to keep his employment without being obliged to undergo a national shave:

i) if the beard is said to be ‘of hipster type’, the bearded person is obligated to furnish proof of residence within a 1 kilometer radius of the intersection of St. Viateur and St. Laurent, in Montreal.

ii)Notwithstanding Article 4(b)(i), any bearded person residing in the territory identified in the preceding paragraph, but who wears dark clothing, curly sideburns, and who regularly frequents a synagogue, cannot benefit from the ‘of hipster type’ exemption.

iii)If the beard is said to be ‘leftist’, the bearded person is obligated to swear on Das Kapital that all religions are the opiate of the masses, and in particular minority religions which do not correspond to traditional Quebec values.

iv) if the bearded person is either Victor-Levy Beaulieu or Gerald Larose, it is okay.

v) if the beard is justified as being ‘a Santa Claus beard’, the inspector of Quebec Values must subsequently determine if (A) the beard is inspired by St. Nicholas, or (B) by a character invented by the Coca Cola Company. If the beard is inspired by the Coca Cola Company, it is compatible with national values. If it is inspired by St. Nicholas, the beard is only compatible with Quebec values if the Santa Claus costume is adjudged sufficiently legitimate.

vi)if the beard is justified as a result of ‘negligent personal hygiene,’ the inspector of Quebec Values is to administer an alcohol sobriety test to the suspected bearded person. In the case of a positive result, the bearded person is to be considered in compliance with Quebec Values. In the case of a negative result, the inspector may infer that the beard is religiously significant.

vii) if the beard is justified as “a heritage beard” (including sub-variants ‘rural’, ‘naval’, ‘lumberjack’ or ‘ancestral’), the bearded person is obliged to furnish a baptismal record and a family tree tracing his ancestry back a minimum of four (4) generations, in the absence of which it will be deemed to be religiously significant.

viii) In all other cases, bearded persons employed by the state are obliged to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that they wear the beard for reasons other than religious, on pain of dismissal or national shaving. Assessment of submitted evidence is the responsibility of the inspector of Quebec Values in the district of residence of the bearded state employee in question.

Jerome Lussier