Tag Archives: reasonable accommodation

Racism is OK when you’re white

A story came out on Wednesday about how the Defence Department union wants more women on emergency response units, because “a group of female workers were stripped naked and scrubbed down by an all-male team responding to an anthrax scare.”

I looked for it, but I couldn’t find any commentary from the blogosphere, the PQ or others calling sexism here and saying that emergency response workers should not be discriminated against because of their gender.

This is odd, because a lot of people make a fuss about the idea that only male police officers should address Hassidic Jews, or that only female doctors should see Muslim women as patients.

What’s the difference in these reasonable accommodations?


Pauline Marois has apparently taken to vlogging (on YouTube, no less, which doesn’t have a French Canadian version). In this video from a few days ago, she talks about how Jean Charest should accept the PQ’s proposal to amend the Quebec charter to include:

  1. A guarantee of equality between men and women, which is already there last time I checked.
  2. A guarantee of separation between church and state, except of course when it comes to having symbols of the One True Religion in the state’s legislature
  3. A guarantee of the Ultimate Supremacy of the One True Language to the exclusion of all others, even though we live in a country which has a law kinda saying the opposite

She also name-drops the Mouvement Montréal français, which I guess shouldn’t be so surprising, but will probably hurt the PQ later when the MMF inevitably says something outright racist.

The reasonable accommodation debate begins again

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.

My take

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.

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?

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.

BTK: Bertrand Targets Koivu

Guy Bertrand, the lovable lawyer and rabble-rouser, has finally shown his face in front of The Commission, and shown what a hero he is by clearing up once and for all what the greatest threat is to the French language and Québécois culture:

Saku Koivu: Menace to société

Saku Koivu.

You see, because the Finnish player who happens to be the captain of the Montreal Canadiens has trouble with his third language, he’s violating our rights by not allowing hockey fans to be served in French.

When Koivu is inevitably found guilty in a court of law for crimes against humanity, should we subject him to lethal injection, the electric chair or just force him to be a panelist on Tout le monde en parle?

UPDATE (Nov. 1): Gazette letter-writers come to their captain’s defence and let Bertrand have it. La Presse’s André Pratte points out that anglophones, not francophones, are in linguistic danger in Quebec, and François Gagnon has some good insight into the matter.

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.

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.

Continue reading

The Crazy Left unaccommodating on accommodation

A gaggle of the usual radical left subjects is already condemning a debate on reasonable accomodation as “racist and sexist.”

Their diatribe produces golden gems of sociological claptrap like this:

In this respect, we reassert the dynamic nature of the various manifestations of our beliefs or cultural identities, which express themselves within a larger social and political context.

In particular, we observe that the analysis of the oppression of women and gender inequality, as expressed in the mass media, as strictly a phenomenon internal to religions, explicitly ignores the external, universal systems of patriarchy and sexism which all women face, while also definitively homogenizing religion.

Among the things they denounce:
– mass media
– the State
– capitalism (not quite sure what that has to do with Hérouxville)
– “imperialist feminist discourse”, whatever that is
– war proponents
– colonialism/imperialism

Things not denounced:
– oppressive religions