Opinion: Montreal Should Remove The Mount Royal Cross After The CAQ's Religious Symbol Ban In Quebec
It's time to take it down!
As the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) prepares to take power, it is already stirring major controversy.
The party's leader, François Legault, announced this week that his government would invoke the notwithstanding clause to enforce a ban on religious symbols for public servants.
TL;DR The cross violates the intention of the relgious symbol ban to deny any religion a public platform. As a possession of the city of Montreal, it is within the power of the city council to remove it. They should.
Proponents of such a ban point to a history of secularism in the province and a need to shield students and other citizens from religious influence while they are receiving public benefits.
Both points are faulty.
Apart from the racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic consequences of the ban, it is also a demonstration of hypocrisy.
As Quebec prepares to outlaw public presentations by religious minorities, Christian symbology still persists throughout the province.
A cross still hangs in the National Assembly chamber in Québec City. Christian symbols still decorate public school entrances, greeting students each day as relics of a not-too-long-ago time when the Catholic Church controlled education in the province.
And, of course, a giant cross still marks the highest natural point in Montreal.
Supporters of a religious symbol ban will likely argue that the cross atop Mount Royal has lost its religious connotations and remains only as a historical monument to the original wooden cross erected on that spot by the first French settlers.
But the historical significance of the cross is inextricable from its colonial and religious function.
The original cross was a demonstration of French Catholic domination of what is now Quebec. It was a warning to indigenous inhabitants: convert and conform or risk expulsion and death.
The Mount Royal cross is at its core a monument to conquest and genocide.
It is also, of course, still a cross, whatever its history. In fact, its illumination (a twentieth-century flare) every evening seems to distinguish the structure from its precursor and reject its historical significance in favour of purely Christian importance.
The cross is on public land and seems to preach to the inhabitants below in direct violation of a ban intended to deny any religion a public platform.
Because Mount Royal is a municipal park, it is within the power of the city council of Montreal to remove it. They should.
And Montreal residents should begin to demand it.