Tag Archives: Multiculturalism

CTV Montreal gets kudos for diversity

Mutsumi Takahashi is really happy about CTV Montreal's employment equity award

Mutsumi Takahashi is really happy about CTV Montreal's employment equity award

CTV’s Herb Luft drew the short straw today and got to report on his workplace being honoured by the federal government for employment equity. According to his report (video), the station scored straight As in all four categories: women, aboriginals, visible minorities and people with disabilities.

Though there are definitely women and visible minorities (Mutsumi Takahashi fills two of those slots simultaneously, as do Maya Johnson (below), Danielle Hamamdjian and others who aren’t listed on the station’s almost-all-white host bios page), I haven’t seen any aboriginal people in visible positions, nor any people with disabilities (unless you count Stéphane Giroux’s accent).

CTV Montreal reporter Maya Johnson: Brown and loving it

CTV Montreal reporter Maya Johnson: Brown and loving it

All that said, kudos to CTV Montreal.

TWIM: Mitsou-inspired cultural blogging

My latest blog profile is the relatively new Comme les Chinois, by Spacing Montreal contributor Cedric Sam. It talks about Chinatown, the local Chinese community, profiles local Chinese people, and basically talks about everything that relates to being Chinese in Montreal.

The blog’s name comes from Les Chinois, a 1988 pop single by Quebec singer Mitsou, the lyrics of which suggest Chinese people treat their lovers well. On his blog, Sam took a lyric from that song, “regarde les chinois” literally, and one of its regular features is interviews members of Montreal’s Chinese community.

UPDATE: Kate blogs about Spacing’s blogging about my article about Cedric’s blog. So I figured I’d blog that.

We can’t accomodate freedom

Leaders of the FTQ and CSN told the Bouchard-Taylor commission that workers in Quebec should be forbidden from wearing anything that indicates what religion they are.

So I guess that means no more crucifix necklaces.

The article (I’m guessing it’s more their position) is a bit confusing, later going on about how they just don’t want employers to have to change any rules about safety or uniform codes in order to accomodate religious minorities.

It’s odd to hear about a trade union arguing for restricting workers’ rights, but then again these hearings are creating a lot of crazy ideas.

So when does the witchhunt begin for determining what constitutes a religious symbol? Does a black top hat make you Jewish? Does wearing a loose-fitting dress make you Muslim? Does a spaghetti-strap top make you a Pastafarian?

Census data doesn’t show anything new

As you might expect, the media went crazy over reports from the 2006 census that the percentage of francophones has dropped and the percentage of anglophones is up slightly for the first time in three decades.

The numbers are hardly staggering. The number of Quebecers who speak French at home is still over 80%.

The West Island Chronicle breaks down the West Island numbers, though it does so in prose so it’s hard to tell what’s actually going on. Basically, the West Island is following the trend, with little difference in anglo/franco ratios but a big jump in allophones through immigration.

Transcontinental to talk about their black friends more

Transcontinental’s Serge Lemieux: Cultural communities Yay!!!!!111

Transcontinental, which owns 61 community weeklies in Quebec (22 of them on the island of Montreal), has decided to reverse its position banning brown people from its papers.

At least, that’s the best I could figure out from this editorial, which is running in all of Transcontinental’s newspapers this week. In it, the general manager of Transcontinental Newspaper Group, Serge Lemieux, has finally clued in to the idea that covering community issues involves covering cultural communities as well. Apparently it took the Bouchard-Taylor Commission into reasonable accommodation for him to figure this out.

The article doesn’t mention exactly what they’re going to do, only that they’ll be “celebrating cultural diversity.” In fact, it goes into more detail about what they’re not going to do, specifically that they won’t be publishing articles in “all the world’s languages” because they find it “undesirable” to do so. Instead, they’ll publish articles “exclusively in French or English (as the case may be)” (French versions of this editorial don’t mention articles in English).

We’ll see what they have in mind.

Speaking of nonsensical Serge Lemieux columns, this one, which in the same breath blames the media for oversensationalizing the issue of reasonable accommodation and says the commission looking into the issue has been a good idea, is also appearing in Transcontinental papers this week.

Ironically, both these articles serve to remind us, in case we didn’t know already, how little local journalism actually comes out of Transcontinental weeklies. A large amount of content is syndicated across many papers, their websites are identical and even most of their logos have the same design elements. All that’s left are some fluff stories about aging grandmothers, rewritten press releases about local events, and a couple of local issue stories written by overworked, underpaid journalists.

But I guess “celebrating cultural communities” will fix that.

Reasonable information on reasonable accommodation

La Presse has a myths vs. reality article on the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation. It includes some enlightening figures about religion, immigration and language in this province.

Naturally, the facts make it clear that pur laine Quebecers don’t have anything to fear from a few thousand immigrants.

Concordian sorry for offending Muslims

The Concordian has issued an apology to Muslim students after a recent cover of the paper had the word “Allah” apparently used in such a way that was considered offensive to some. They realized this after copies of their paper went missing, apparently taken and destroyed by offended students.

Ironically, the editor says he she checked with two Muslims to see if they were offended before the paper went to print. Clearly he didn’t check with fanatic enough people.

Can’t we just agree that the Charter amendment is a stupid idea?

Can we stop with the news stories about the moronic idea from the Quebec Council on the Status of Women to ban hijabs and change the Charter to make gender equality rights trump religious belief?

Apparently not, as more politicians with the foresight of moths are actually getting behind it, already coming up with ways of ranking our fundamental rights.

It goes without saying that experts with brains oppose the amendment, for the simple reason that when we start saying some rights are less important than others, we begin de-valuing them. They also point out that religious rights don’t trump those of gender equality, and changing the Charter in such a way would not fix the problem, but likely have tons of other unintended consequences.

And even if that obvious flaw hadn’t been pointed out, it’s not like making the change would suddenly cause devout Muslim women to run out into the streets in bikinis, thanking us for allowing them the privilege of dressing immodestly.

It’s a horrible solution that fails to solve a non-problem. Let’s just agree to that and move on.

More xenophobia at the Bouchard-Taylor commission

The expressions of blatant xenophobia at the Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accomodation is continuing with no end in sight:

  • The Quebec council on the status of women seeks to impose a dress code on all public employees, preventing them from wearing “visible religious symbols” like a scarf over their head or a little hat. Of course, it goes without saying that Catholics wearing crosses around their necks are specifically exempt. They get special treatment because they believe in the correct God.
  • The group also wants the Quebec charter amended to make sure that gender equality usurps religious freedom. This makes sense, but does that mean that women could sue for the right to become priests? If they’re for gender equality in all religions, then they must be in favour of that as well.
  • Pauline Marois is opining that the solution to reasonable accommodation is … wait for it … Quebec independence. In a statement that sounds almost Third Reich-ish, she suggests that independence would remove “ambiguity” concerning what Quebec is. Instead, immigrants would see it as the racist, intolerant, French-only haven of backwards ideas we all know and love. And if these ethnics want to join us, all they have to do is rid themselves of their religion, their culture, their language and anything else that makes them different.

Bouchard-Taylor Commission legitimizes xenophobia

The news stories coming out of the Commission on Reasonable Accomodation (or whatever it’s official name is) have really been eye-opening. It’s no secret that we have paranoid xenophobes here. But this commission, going around the province (starting with small rural towns and ending in Montreal) seems to be legitimizing it.

Suddenly, it’s no longer taboo to express an irrational, paranoid fear of immigrants flooding in to take over your country. To suggest that a few dozen quiet immigrants with cloth over their faces settling in a town hundreds of kilometres away is going to somehow radically alter the way of life in a place that is 96% Catholic might have once been considered ignorant racism. But now that the commission is coming along, it’s giving these lunatics a forum in which to express their paranoia.

Tonight in a park, as I watched a free movie screening, one of the spectators shouted at the end, complaining that the film was not in French and that Quebec is a French-only province. The man was clearly off his rocker, and the crowd stayed silent in response. The young moderator of the evening, in an attempt at diplomacy, repeated an invitation to a post-screening party in the province’s official language, but the man was still yelling as she spoke in his tongue. He wasn’t interested in accomodation, he just wanted to yell.

Now if that same man were to walk into a commission hearing room and give those opinions into a microphone, suddenly it would become news. It would get into the newspapers, and would require acknowledgment and analysis.

I realize I’m generalizing here, but normal people have better things to do with their lives than attend these hearings. It’s the unemployed crazies who want someone to blame for their crappy lives that come to these town halls and blame immigrants they’ve never seen or met.

Perhaps there’s no alternative to this. We’re dealing with questions of morality, and that requires public consultation. But it still irks me that we’re giving an open mic to racist, xenophobic extremists and pretending like their opinions are justified.

CJNT: Multicultural American celebrity news

Once upon a time, Montreal had a low-budget multi-ethnic television station whose mission it was to provide a space where allophones could communicate. The station was called CJNT, and broadcasted over the air on channel 62.

Then the channel was acquired by a media company, which was in turn acquired by CanWest/Global. CanWest forced the station to declare bankruptcy, and has been egging the CRTC to allow it to reduce its ethnic content to put more commercially viable programming on instead.

The latest sad move in this direction came in April, when CanWest announced that its CH stations would be rebranded as “E!” entertainment (read: celebrity gossip) channels. That change took effect last Friday, and the channel’s been running all sorts of “E!” programming from the U.S. network ever since.

But what about its commitment to 60% multicultural programming? The channel still runs its multicultural shows, many during prime-time (the CRTC rules require this). And in between, they provide E! celebrity gossip shows dubbed in other languages. Now you can hear about Britney Spears in Portuguese!

Not only is celebrity gossip bad in and of itself, but to take a channel designed to give a voice to those who can’t get access to commercial airwaves, and use that channel (to the extent allowable by law) to broadcast unimportant information about people who have so much television coverage that they take great pains to limit it…

Kind of ironic, don’t you think?

Needless to say, the only reaction this change has gotten in the blogosphere is bad: “Tripe.”

Your manner of dress offends me

The third in Jeff Heinrich’s series Identities today talks about what rules should be for minorities.

The poll of 1,001 Quebecers, which the Gazette is milking as much as it can out of, has somewhat predictable answers concerning whether women should be allowed to weir veils when teaching students, whether non-Christian religious symbols should be allowed in schools and whether non-Christians should be allowed time off work to pray. One third of the province is on one side of the debate, one third on the other, and the rest sway depending on the specific issue.

To give you an idea of how ludicrous this debate is getting, take a look at this:

About the only thing they are willing to concede is hijabs in public. Two in three – 66 per cent – think it’s OK for Muslim women to dress like that.

So in other words, a third of Quebecers think it should be illegal for women to wear scarves over their heads in public.

The minute the government starts imposing a dress code on the public is the minute I start looking for jobs in Ontario.

The article also includes a few interesting tidbits at the end, including the realization that more than half of Quebecers think the media is exaggerating the debate — more than twice the figure for political parties.

Everything you clearly don’t know about the Islamic veil controversy

The Gazette today began its five-day series Identities about reasonable accomodation, and their timing couldn’t have been better. The Bouchard-Taylor commission is beginning its public consultation tour of the province (Montreal is the last stop on their trip at the end of November), and a pair of conflicting rulings have been issued concerning the rights of Muslim women to wear veils in upcoming provincial and federal by-elections.

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Do gays have to be so … gay?

Every year after the Gay Pride Parade, some prude writes in to the newspaper complaining that the sexual flamboyancy is offensive and shoving the thick, throbbing gayness down everyone’s throats is obscene.

This year is no exception. The token prude is Shamus Birch (the same Shamus Birch who’s “every mother’s dream for a son-in-law” and found Jesus after he was stupid with his virginity? Nah, that guy’s in Britain), who is totally not a homophobe, but says gays “should stick to the old-fashioned way: Earn the respect and recognition on a person-to-person basis, not as an overdone circus demonstration.”

(UPDATE: A brief but well-thought-out response in Wednesday’s paper, and another one in Friday’s)

Ah, remember the good old-fashioned days? When gays were shunned, blacks were slaves, and everyone died of tuberculosis by the age of 40? Why can’t we have those back?

Well, blame Theo Wouters and Roger Thibault. Remember them? They’re the old gay couple in Pointe-Claire who were harassed by their neighbours for being gay. This was back in 2002 when gayness wasn’t as cool as it is now.

The Quebec Human Rights Commission has awarded them $10,000 from the kids who teased them.

Quote Wouters:

“I don’t think that a bunch of morons can chase us out. I mean, the black people, if they hadn’t stood up, they’d still be in the same position, and we feel for us, it’s the same way.”

Oh gay. It’s the new black. A flamboyantly-coloured new black. And apparently it’s distracting to some people.