The Gazette’s Jeff Heinrich today has an OMGEXCLUSIVE!!!!11 on the salient facts that will make their way into the Bouchard-Taylor Commission report. It’s in a bunch of parts:
- The main story, which boils down the conclusions to: learn about immigrants (especially Muslims) and be nice to them; and learn more English
- A list of common fallacies in arguments against accommodation
- A sidebar on the need to learn more English, which will no doubt be interpreted not as “we need to be more multilingual like world-leading countries” but as “we need to surrender to the unilingual anglos who will enslave us”
- Some comments from members of the commission not named Bouchard or Taylor
- Criticisms from UQAM prof and commission adviser Jacques Beauchemin, calling the report a “whitewash”
There’s also a piece noting that Taylor has been named one of the world’s top 100 public thinkers, an editorial praising the commissioners, a soundoff forum for people’s comments, and a post-publication reaction story from the premier (he’s not saying anything) and others, including Mouvement Montréal français (I won’t spoil the surprise)
I don’t know how Heinrich obtained the parts of the report he bases his stories on (maybe he found them in a cab?), but I’m sure plenty of ink will be spilled noting that it was the anglo paper that got the scoop on a commission report that says we should learn English.
Meanwhile, my bosses are (insert disgusting metaphor for happiness here) that the competition is all over talking about their scoop (it was even in Le Monde!). Patrick Lagacé blogs about it (and the comments give a pretty good idea of why this commission was needed in the first place). Maisonneuve also has (coincidentally) a story about the commission from yesterday.
Anyone who expected the commission report to magically solve the issue is clearly fooling themselves. It simply won’t do that. So then the question becomes what we spent all that money on. Was it just a chance for people from the régions to vent about immigrants they’ve never met? Or was it something to clearly define what the issues are so we can slowly work through them? Either way, expect a lot of people to be angry.
And anger is what the commission brought out more than anything else. It made racism, xenophobia and all sorts of discrimination acceptable and normal by allowing people a forum to express it.
As the Habs riot showed us, crowds are like children. Without proper discipline, they revert to the intelligence of an infant.
This problem isn’t unique to Quebec. The U.S. has the same issue with immigration: the media and politicians practice open discrimination, and that makes it acceptable for everyone else to do the same.
One of the knee-jerk reactions we’ve already seen is that francophones are the ones expected to do the accommodating while anglos don’t have to change. I don’t think that’s the point. Anglos already have to learn French here, otherwise they won’t get jobs in public service (outside of Fairview anyway). Statistics show that those who are bilingual make far more than their unilingual counterparts, anglo or franco. So the solution is to make sure both language groups get education in both languages, no?
I think there’s an even more fundamental issue that wasn’t explored here, and one that would have pissed francophone activists off more than anything else: Is it still in our best interest as a world society to preserve minority languages? So many conflicts can be boiled down to communication difficulties, and so many of those can be boiled down to translation problems. What would be so bad if the entire world spoke just one language, whether it be English, French, Latin, Esperanto or Mandarin?
And what about the media?
The commission thinks it went a bit far, and the media will no doubt disagree. I think the real answer (as always) lies somewhere in between. The media (especially tabloids like the Journal) overhyped the issue, which is a large reason why people who have no real connection with immigrants became so frightened. On the other hand, the media only serve to reflect society, and there was clearly some latent xenophobia there to exploit.