Ever since Quebec became home to a large amount of non-Catholic immigrants, friction has been building. The majority of Quebeckers believe that it is not only incumbent upon newcomers to use French as their primary language, but also to adopt the values of Quebec society as well.
What that means in practice is that immigrants are expected to give up the 'old ways' of their homelands and embrace 'Quebec' values and mores.
Last year, in response to a backlash against immigrants, the Quebec government set up a comission (BOUCHARD-TAYLOR) to look into the reasonable accomodation debate. The commission turned into a bit of a fiasco and became a forum for yahoos and racists to vent their rage at minorities and immigrants.
By the way, what is a reasonable accomodation?
Simply put, it is special treatment for an individual or group that is not afforded to the majority.
Here are some examples of what I'm sure you'll agree with me are reasonable accommodations;
- Wheel-chaired bound people are provided exclusive use of specially designed bathrooms.
- Children and seniors who generally have less money than every one else are given discounts that others cannot share.
- Blind people may take their seeing-eye dogs into public buildings and on public transportation that ban animals.
Let's review the La Presse poll.
ACCORDING TO YOU, DOES QUEBEC AFFORD TOO MANY, TOO LITTLE OR JUST ABOUT THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS?
Too much 68%
Not Enough 7%
Don't know 8%
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE BOUCHARD TAYLOR COMMISSION CLARIFIED THE SITUATION IN REGARDS TO REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS?
DO YOU PERSONALLY MAKE ACCOMMODATIONS BASED ON RELIGION?
Almost every day 5%
A couple of times a month 9%
A couple of times a year 17%
SHOULD A PERSON BE ALLOWED TO WEAR A RELLIGIOUS MEDALLION...
IN SCHOOL? IN PUBLIC PLACES
Yes 19% Yes 35%
No 76% No 59%
Uncertain 5% Uncertain 7%
At WORK? IN HOSPITAL
Yes 19% Yes 25%
No 74% No 70%
Uncertain 7% Uncertain 5%
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT A DIFFERENT MENU CAN BE OFFERED IN A DAYCARE?
....THAT A FEMALE DOCTOR BE PROVIDED UPON REQUEST?
....THAT A MALE DRIVING INSTRUCTOR BE PROVIDED UPON REQUEST?
....THAT BOYS AND GIRLS BE SEPARATED IN SWIMMING POOLS?
....THAT A HOLIDAY FOR A NON-CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY BE PROVIDED?
....THAT A PRAYER ROOM BE PROVIDED IN A PUBLIC BUILDING (CEGEP, UNIVERSITY, AT WORK ?)
....THAT THE HIJAB BE ALLOWED TO BE WORN WHILE WORKING IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE?
So how do you compare?
Let me finish today's post with a case of reasonable accommodation which I'll let you be the judge of;
A local mosque makes a request of city council to install loudspeakers into the minaret so that they can call people to prayers. You've all seen the scene on television where a loud droning voice is played over a loudspeaker ad nauseum. For a non-Muslim it's quite grating.
The Imam promises that out of respect for the community and as a compromise, they will only use the system once a week, on Friday's and sometimes on special occasions and holidays.
The council considers the request. One or two liberal councillors seem to be okay with the idea, but the majority are outraged.
"Let them keep their religion to themselves. Why bother the whole neighbourhood?"
"We're not the Middle East here!"
"It's an unacceptable intrusion."
"It's noise pollution"
..and so on and so on....
How would you vote?
If you are like most, you'd probably vote against the request. If you are of that mind I'd like you to consider this;
Should Church bells be banned?
What's reasonable to you, may not be reasonable at all. It's a matter of perspective and so the debate rages on.