* Multiculti is good for you because we say so:
Do not fear Muslims, report says
Gerard Bouchard, left, and Charles Taylor headed a commission on reasonable accommodation, holding hearings across Quebec last fall. Their final report was leaked to The Gazette.
The “Two Solitudes” of French and English have been replaced in Quebec by “deux inquietudes” — the twin anxieties of the majority and the new minorities, according to a much-anticipated report on reasonable accommodation.
French-Canadians, a “strong ethnocultural majority,” fear being submerged by minorities who are “fragile and worried about the future,” says the report.
The French-Canadian majority in Quebec must shake off its angst about minorities and help build a truly open society in a globalized world, says the report.
The report recommends that people in Quebec learn more English — even becoming trilingual — be nicer to Muslims and get better informed.
“In this day and age of migratory mixing, of the Internet and globalization, it is to be greatly hoped that the largest number possible of Quebecers master English in addition to French,” says the report.
It adds, “The way to overcome Islamophobia is to get closer to Muslims, not to run away from them. Mistrust breeds mistrust. Just like fear, it winds up feeding on itself.”
* The amazing arrogance of these unelected officials doesn’t even allow a skeptic to ask ‘what if the multiculti pipe dream backfires…?’
And it says the accommodation crisis was largely a media phenomenon — but adds it was no invention.
“The media didn’t create the crisis over accommodations, but their message fell on fertile ground,” say the authors.
In several chapters of the final draft obtained by The Gazette in Montreal, Gerard Bouchard and Charles Taylor argue the “discontent of a large part of the population” over demands by Muslims, Jews and other religious minorities “seems to us the result of partial information and false perceptions.”
In their report, Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Taylor argue that the responsibility for open-mindedness and desire for change lies mainly with French Canadians.
“It’s principally from this milieu that the crisis arose,” the commissioners write. Many French Canadians “have a strong feeling of insecurity for the survival of their culture.” They fear losing their “values, language, tradition and customs” and of eventually “disappearing” entirely as a French-speaking minority in North America.
Self-doubt and “the fear of the Other” — those are “the two great hindrances of the French-Canadian past,” the commissioners write.
“In the past, the threat came mainly from the anglophone. Before that, it was the lifestyle brought on by industrialization. Today, for many, it’s the immigrant.”
What Quebec now faces is not the the traditional “deux solitudes” of French and English, but rather “deux inquietude.” The “members of a strong ethnocultural majority fear being submerged by minorities who themselves are fragile and worried about the future, especially immigrants trying to find their feet in their adoptive society,” write the scholars.
Mr. Bouchard, a prominent Chicoutimi sociologist and historian, and Mr. Taylor, a world-renowned Montreal philosopher, lay out their vision of a new Quebec coming to terms with kirpans, hijabs, kosher food and other expressions of non-Christian cultures.
“We think it is possible to reconcile Quebecers — francophones and others — with practices of harmonization, once it has been shown that:
) these practices respect our society’s fundamental values, notably the equality of men and women;
b) they don’t aim to create privileges but, rather, equality that is well-understood and that respects everyone’s rights;
c) they encourage integration and not marginalization;
d) they’re framed by guidelines and protected against the effect of spiralling out of control;
e) they’re founded on the principle of reciprocity;
f) they don’t play the game of fundamentalism; and
g) they don’t compromise the gains of the Quiet Revolution.”
The report is now in the hands of Premier Jean Charest, who is to present it to Cabinet on Wednesday. After a budget-style “lock-up” behind closed doors for journalists Friday morning, the commissioners will hold a news conference to discuss their findings.
The voluminous report has more than a dozen chapters and almost as many annexes consisting of a series of research reports, independently produced under special order by the commission.
THE COMMISSION, IN BRIEF
The Bouchard-Taylor commission on “reasonable accommodation” came into being after a series of incidents. – March, 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of a Montreal Sikh teenager who wanted to keep wearing his kirpan, the traditional ceremonial dagger of baptized orthodox Sikh men, to school. – The Association of Maritime Employers agreed to re-examine its workplace rules after orthodox Sikh truck drivers objected to wearing a safety helmet instead of their turban at the Port of Montreal. – A Montreal YMCA frosted the windows of an exercise room so that ultraorthodox Jewish neighbours would not have to watch women exercising. – Montreal policewomen were advised in a training brochure to let their male colleagues take charge when visiting Hasidic neighbourhoods. – The “scandals” came to a head in January, 2007, with the publication of a “code of life” by the village council of Herouxville in the Mauricie, in which foreigners were advised that public stonings and female circumcision were not allowed in the community.
WHAT DOES THE REPORT SAY? – It wants more funding for community groups that try to bring cultures together. – It argues against race-based projects that segregate people from mainstream society (such as a proposed all-black private school). – It laments the “wasted careers” of foreign professionals who cannot find work here because their credentials are not recognized. – It deplores that only 3% of Quebec public-service jobs are held by immigrants, “one of the worst situations in North America.” – It blames the Quebec media for being generally “very old-stock” and “very white.”
REACTION AGAINST THE REPORT
Jacques Beauchemin, a dissident member of the commission’s advisory panel, blames commission co-chairman Gerard Bouchard for getting soft on Quebec independence and says the report runs roughshod over French Canadians by denying their majority status in Quebec.
“Doesn’t the francophone historical majority have the right to say the essence of our culture is being thrown into question?” he said. He criticised the report as a “whitewash” adding, “It essentially tries to show that the crisis was the work of the media, and that, in fact, there is no real problem. This would be the first time in history that a commission of inquiry ends up concluding there’s nothing for it to inquire into.”
REACTION FOR THE REPORT
One Arab women is very pleased:
Far from being a whitewash, the Bouchard-Taylor report is a road map for modern Quebec to better integrate its religious and immigrant minorities, say other members of the commission’s advisory committee. “I think it’s right to give a voice to minorities; they haven’t been able to speak up as much as the majority,” said Bergman Fleury, a Haitian-born advisor to Quebec’s Education Department, who recently headed a task force into accommodation of minorities in schools. The report will give a boost to diversity in the province, said Aida Kamar, founding president of the Outremont group Vision Diversite.
Canwest News Service