1) . That comes as Alitalia which has history is perhaps best known for a seemingly endless cycle of financial emergencies enters a new round of turbulence that has it looking for ways to raise cash. Alitalia’s deteriorating balance sheets have prompted speculation that partner Air France-KLM which already has a 25% stake in the carrier could come to the rescue. RELATED: A familiar place: Alitalia back to the financial brink As for the reports raising the possibility of a merger, one is one from Reuters . The news agency writes “Air France-KLM said on Tuesday it was open to merging with Alitalia in a move seen as the best solution for turning around the loss-making Italian airline.” Dow Jones Newswires ran a similar report , noting one key Alitalia shareholder views Air France-KLM “as a good candidate to take control of the carrier, (though) he said the ultimate decision lay with the (Italian) government.” “(Air France-KLM) is a good buyer,” Gilberto Benetton is quoted by Dow Jones as saying to reporters at the Milan exchange. However, Benetton says the Italian government would have to have a say and that Air France-KLM would have to detail what it would do with Alitalia in a merger. “If the government doesn’t sit at the table with Air France-KLM … the danger is that Italy as a country becomes a region,” he’s quoted as saying be Dow Jones . “This must be avoided at all costs.” Dow Jones writes Benetton’s family, whose holdings include the eponymous retail chain, is “among a group of Italian financiers and industrialists that came to the rescue of Alitalia five years ago to stop the airline from being bought by Air France-KLM, which nevertheless owns a 25% stake.” However, Air France-KLM CEO Alexandre de Juniac indicates any move his company may make regarding Alitalia will be deliberate. “Our conditions for helping Alitalia are very strict. If the conditions are met, I am ready to go ahead,” Air France-KLM chief executive de Juniac is quoted by Reuters as saying to the French newspaper Les Echos. He did not specify what those conditions might be. But whether Air France-KLM considers a merger or simply tries to increase its stake in its SkyTeam partner, overcoming Italian concerns could be key.
Importing France’s model of laïcité is a mistake for the PQ
In 2004, the French government prohibited aconspicuous religious signsa from public schools, citing the need to safeguard the secular, indivisible nature of the republic and reinforce the principle of gender equality. Rather than banning all visible religious symbols, however, the law distinguished between acceptable adiscreeta symbols (earrings, small crosses, etc.) and unacceptable aconspicuousa ones (head scarves, skullcaps, turbans and large crucifixes). Followers of the current debate over the proposed Quebec charter will no doubt recognize much of this logic, and English speakers will have noted the use of the word aconspicuous.a While the English-language version of the new Quebec government website devoted to the charter tells us that public-sector employees would no longer be allowed to wear aconspicuous religious symbols,a the French version uses a different term: aostentatoire.a That term, which actually translates as aostentatiousa in English, was specifically dropped from the French law because it seemed to impute certain motives to the individuals wearing these symbols a notably, a desire to provoke, incite or otherwise disturb the general public. This attention to words is important in another respect; it suggests that the fixation in both France and Quebec on religious symbols and the motives of those who wear them isnat primarily about religion. After all, exceptions have been made in both cases. Critics of the proposed Quebec charter have pointed to the crucifix hanging in the National Assembly as evidence that xenophobia or potential electoral gains a and not secularism a is the real driving force behind the initiative. Exceptions have also been made in France, where an entire region of the country (Alsace-Moselle) remains exempt from the 1905 law separating church and state. Talal Asad, a leading scholar of religion, has argued that the very act of establishing exceptions to secularism in France has itself been a means for the state to expand its authority over the public sphere. If we apply this logic to Quebec, the proposed charter may well be the result of an impulse to expand the powers of the provincial government at a moment when full independence for Quebec looks increasingly unlikely. The ability to make exceptions to the proposed charter a such as the crucifix hanging in the National Assembly a should be considered as an affirmation of the governmentas right to distinguish aculturala symbols from areligiousa ones. In defining all public employees as extensions of the state, the charter would also massively expand the definition of the state. Coming at a particularly bleak moment for the independence movement, the proposed charter thus serves to expand the jurisdiction of the provincial state and underscore the differences between Quebec and the rest of Canada. But this strategy risks harming rather than helping the sovereignist cause.