Saturday, July 22, 2017

Foolish Quebec Government To Open Racism Inquiry

"Saguenay is a White City"
Perhaps the modern equivalent of the mythical Pandora's Box is the very real IED, an improvised explosive device that once trifled with, releases nothing but pain and something that you wouldn't want to touch with that proverbial ten-foot pole.
It is that analogy in mind that I consider the utter foolishness of the Quebec's government's plan to hold a public inquiry into racism in Quebec society, a recipe for humiliation and embarrassment if I ever saw one, a political blunder that will no doubt explode in our collective faces.
What on Earth were they thinking?
"Quebec's upcoming public consultation on systemic discrimination and racism will seek concrete and permanent solutions, says Kathleen Weil, the province's minister of immigration, diversity and inclusion.
Weil unveiled the details of the public consultation, which will begin in September and continue through the fall, at a news conference Thursday.
"The fight against racism and discrimination is a continual priority in open, inclusive and democratic societies like Quebec.  It's a collective responsibility," she said. Link
I wonder if the politicians remember the humiliating fiasco that was the Bouchard-Taylor public consultations, the commission that looked into religious accommodations that degenerated into an embarrassing combination of racism and idiocy.

Click on CC button for subtitles
Whenever people ask me if Quebec is more racist than other provinces I always tell them that the answer is YES and NO, because Quebec is really two provinces, the largely bilingual, urban Greater Montreal region that includes the suburbs north and south of the island and which makes up almost half of Quebec's population. Ninety percent of of Muslims and other religious minorities including Sikhs and Jews live here and racism is a problem no different that in other large cities across Canada.

Outside this regions lies the hinterland of the great unwashed, the unilingual rural and small town francophones that live in a French/Caucasian/nominally-Catholic bubble. Some of the ridings boast 98% Quebecois purity, where seldom is seen a black or brown face and where Asians are as rare as a hen's tooth.

There's a lot of under-the water tension in this part of Quebec over Muslims and their place in Quebec society. The recent cemetery fiasco underlines that fact, and this Quebec reality is not reflected by our politicians or represented by the media and press which propagate the myth that Quebec is tolerant and open to minorities.
This is especially true in regards to religious minorities that openly display their observance through religious dress, such as Muslims, Sikhs and Hassidic Jews.
This 'other' Quebec cannot be described as strictly rural because included is many towns and cities like Sherbrooke, Quebec City, Trois Rivières and Saguenay.
Common among those who have a distinct fear and loathing of Muslims is surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, French unilingualism where people live in a closed and insular social order, where strangers are not welcome. With little or no contact with religious or visible minorities, it is easy to fear the unknown.

How deep is this fear and loathing?
A lot deeper than anyone would imagine and a lot deeper than politicians would admit. It borders on the hysterical.
In this context we can understand the referendum rejection of the Muslim cemetery in Saint-Apollinaire last week, where a door-to-door campaign led by an outside anti-Muslim group called 'Le Meute' (The Pack) warned voters that the cemetery would breed an influx of Muslims, then a mosque and then radicalism.  And so it goes.

The anti-Muslim hysteria sometimes borders on the sadly hilarious such as in Rimouski where a panic set in as an email campaign warned residents of a Muslim invasion.
"The email in question (or rather spam), which has been circulating for at least two years, describes an urban legend which says that Rimouski has gone from 4 Muslim families in 2004 to more than 1,000 families "of this kind" in 2011. "It's scary," says the message that people of "this kind" even got from the city a new street "in the name of their high Islamic priest". Link{Fr}
Of course the utter nonsense of it all is that some idiot residents believed that among the 50,000 Rimouski population were thousand of Muslims, when in reality there were but 130 making up just ⅓ of one percent of the population. The 'new' Muslim street name wasn't new at all and was named after oceanographer Mohammed El-Sabh, who made his mark in Rimouski and happened to be Muslim .

While Quebec City and its mayor purport to be cosmopolitan and friendly to strangers, it is here that not one, but three xenophobic groups La Meute, Atalante and Les Soldats d’Odin, operate openly.

This week, a racist handcrafted sign was placed over the nameplate of a Saguenay cemetery (pictured above) reminding everyone that the Saguenay is "White."
I guess people need reminding that out of the 140,000 residents, 96% are white francophone nominally-Catholics. The rest of the population is made up of 2% natives and one percent anglos. Immigrants make up less than half of one percent. The total Muslim population is about 300 persons, or about one-fifth of one percent, a frightening barbarian invasion to many.

 In 2015 the mayor of the city of Shawinigan admitted to refusing a zoning change to allow a mosque to open in an industrial park because of the anti-Muslim pressure put on the city council by 'concerned' citizens. During the debate, many Muslim families complained of being victims of hate messages. It took the intervention of the sitting member of the National Assembly to finally secure approval.
TABARNAK! I knew this would happen!

I am reminded of an television episode of 'Infoman' a Quebec humourist who put on a full body burqa and visited the small town of Hérouxville, (infamous for publishing it's anti-immigrant 'Code of Life') freaking out the townsfolk.  This screenshot of that episode is one of my favourites, a local's reaction to being greeted by the comedian in a full burqa.
Watch the funny video in French here.

I wish I could say that these are isolated instances, but sadly they are not and while everyone is quick to say that the shooting in a Quebec City mosque that took six lives was a one-off aberrant event, the work of a deranged nutter and nothing to do with Quebec society, I sadly beg to differ.
The palpable anti-Muslim hysteria that exists in areas of Quebec that are practically devoid of Muslims is  staggering and it is ironic, that in these parts of Quebec, the fewer the Muslims in the community, the more they are despised.  Go figure.
There exists an exaggerated toxic fear and loathing of Muslims and indeed foreigners in the ROQ (Rest of Quebec) and no commission of inquiry will dismantle it.

Before calling a public inquiry into racism perhaps the government can look into itself. As the old saying goes.....physician, heal thyself.
The participation of minorities in government and in government-run entities is abysmal. The
public service employs just under 5% of visible minorities less than forty percent of their demographic weight. The SAQ (liquor board) employs just 38 visible minorities out its 6,000 employees and Hydro-Quebec employs 300 visible minority workers out of 20,000. The Sureté du Quebec counts just 24 minority officers out of almost 6,000 police.
There is a government agency that sets guidelines for government and quasi-government organizations in terms of hiring visible minorities and the report card dismal.
Our good friends in the city of Saguenay have but one visible minority out 1,200 city workers and Terrebonne wins the award as the town with the fewest visible minorities with just 3% of their recommended hiring goal..
Of course as to be expected, Montreal does the best job of hiring minorities, with the Jewish General hospital earning the highest mark fulfilling 98% of its hiring goal. But no organization beats Cote-Saint-Luc's Donald Berman Maimonides, a Jewish geriatric centre which counts an astounding 420 of it 's 660 employees being visible minorities. It isn't just anglo or ethnic organizations of Montreal rising to the task. The Commission scolaire de Montréal, and the STM (bus company) also get high marks in visible minority employment.
As I said, there are two worlds in Quebec, Montreal and beyond.

At any rate, in calling the inquiry the government is sending out an invitation to minority and Muslim-bashing hayseeds to come out to bitch and moan in public and believe me, these rubes won't give up their chance to get a few racist things off their chest.

The truth is that the government is setting itself up for a huge fiasco where the true face of Quebec intolerance will be exposed.
Now that the entertaining Sean Spicer news conferences are a thing of the past I can't wait for this Gong show of an inquiry to get going.

It will be epic. Don't miss it.


  1. I've lived in big cities my entire life...and I'm still freaked out when I see a full body burqa. Does that make me intolerant or racist?

    The only time seeing a full body burqa did NOT freak me out was when I spent a month in Kashmir, which is 97% Muslim, in '81...and that was a daily occurance (dozens a day).

    1. It doesn't make you intolerant nor racist, because being "Freaked out" and then acting on that feeling negatively are two different levels of reaction... One NOT necessarily including the other...

      You can still be freaked out, but remain Tolerant, the sign of an educated person... Or NOT... the sign of an ignorant person! The choice is left up to how much being "freaked out" is translated to Fear... and your ability to handle it!!

      What is interesting is how many more Conservatives have a problem handling "Fear" than Progressives.... Must be a "Thing" !!!

  2. What I am interested in Finding out is WHO will have the Guts to go Before the Commission and accuse the Government of racist and intolerant actions against the English minority!!!

    After all, Discrimination and the restriction of Rights is the very definition of racism/bigotry... and Quebec's actions against it's English population, (justly condemned by the UN Human Rights Commission) was the first manifestation of Quebec Racism/Bigotry.. and as it was left insufficiently challenged, and now supported by the Federal Government in Ottawa, license has been given... and what Islamophobia exists in Quebec, was a lesson learned from the History of the French Nationalist Movements of the past 50 years!!

  3. You forgot about Quebecistan's trash talk radio which help incite hatred.