Reasonable Accommodation – media views

Written by  //  December 3, 2007  //  Canada, Immigration/migration  //  No comments

POLITICS: 1968 and the Birth of Diversity
Analysis by Mario Osava
RIO DE JANEIRO, May 13 2008 (IPS) – The year 1968 has become a symbol, but not necessarily one that is easy to sum up. High-profile violent events involving multitudes of people marked it as revolutionary, but it is hard to define the nature of that revolution. Endless enigmas and controversies still surround it.
3 December 2007
Out, damned commission!
Lysiane Gagnon, Globe & Mail
For more than two months, the Bouchard-Taylor commission on the accommodation of minorities toured Quebec’s small “white only” towns, and listened to old-stock Quebeckers (many of whom had never met an immigrant) voicing imaginary fears about immigration. Last week, the commission finally returned to reality. And what it heard in the Montreal area – basically the only multicultural region in Quebec – was that there is no real, serious problem in the schools and health services that have diverse clients. Each day, small compromises are made ….

1 December
Anglos don’t seem to understand accommodation crisis
Don Macpherson, Gazette
Hearings in English underscore differences between Montrealers and other Quebecers
The commission’s Montreal consultations this week has confirmed on the accommodation question, Quebecers are divided not only between francophones and non-francophones, but also between francophones from the regions and those from the metropolis.
… And almost everybody at the forum belonged to a linguistic community that is multiethnic and multicultural, with a long experience of accommodating non-Christian religious practices in schools and hospitals.
The mood at the forum could be expressed in the questions:
“Why can’t we all just get along?” And, “accommodation problem? What problem?”
Perhaps answers could be found in one particular French-language daily this week. It was the Journal de Montréal that created the accommodation controversy last year, sensationalizing – and often distorting – incidents of friction between religious minorities and the majority. …
The commission heard about another problem in the schools this week, concerning schools in poor areas that don’t give tests at the end of the month because pupils whose parents’ welfare benefits have run out are too hungry to concentrate.
Some families can’t afford to pay 50 cents for each of their children to eat lunches provided by a mobile kitchen every day, so the children take turns going hungry.
That’s a real problem, unlike the imaginary ones of veiled voting that have been receiving so much more attention.

30 November
“The commission has become something of a cauldron for a huge range of hopes and fears in a province full of both, including when the commission held its only English-language hearing at the Montreal Convention Centre.
We were joined by two reporters who covered the Bouchard-Taylor Commission hearings from the start. Valérie Dufour is with Le Journal de Montréal, and Jeff Heinrich is with the Montreal Gazette.” CBC – The Current

17 November
A reality check for Herouxville

Poll of muslims’ attitudes shows no grounds for panic
SUE MONTGOMERY, The Gazette
Anyone who has been following the Bouchard-Taylor travelling circus on reasonable accommodation could be forgiven for thinking we live in a province full of xenophobes.
I would like to suggest a reality check for the Herouxvillians of this world in the form of Michael Adams’s book Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism. This should be required reading for anyone wanting to take the microphone at the commission.
Adams, who is president of the well-respected Environics polling firm, is someone who makes his living from gauging the attitudes of Canadians – those born and bred, as well as newcomers. His book, which includes new data gleaned from polling Canadian Muslims and features a chapter explaining current attitudes in Quebec, brings a welcome note of reasonableness to an increasingly unreasonable debate. More

Bigots the minority at Quebec hearings, commissioners say
Jeff Heinrich , CanWest News Service; Montreal Gazette
November 16, 2007

LAVAL, Que. — They’ve been attacked as ivory-tower scholars, old men who are naively unaware of the creeping rise of religious extremism in Quebec, or worse, liberals who have given some a platform to spout their bigotry.
But Thursday, in their first major public statement since beginning their cross-Quebec road-show on “reasonable accommodations,” Charles Taylor and Gerard Bouchard put a positive spin on a controversial process that been the talk of the province since it began 10 weeks ago.
They called the “reasonable-accommodation” hearings on the integration of immigrants a great exercise in democracy and blamed critics for denigrating them as “a freak show.” More

14 November, 2007
We thank The Suburban’s Anthony Bonaparte for doing our homework for us on this topic, which, we confess to having tried to ignore because we feel that the hearings are a bad idea. For the most part, it seems from what we read and hear, they have offered the crazies a platform, while moderates have stayed away in droves. And we are left with the impression that we are part of a small minority who decry the entire process. This week’s summary of the French press is thorough and reassuring.

A review of Quebec’s French press
by Anthony Bonaparte, The Suburban
Often lost amidst all the noise that leads so much coverage of the ongoing reasonable accommodation debate in the French-language media, are the voices of the many people who think the Bouchard-Taylor road show is doing more harm than good.
Much like those targeted by some of the tripe, they think the commission opened an ugly can of worms.
A cyberpresse.ca video editorial last week titled Bouchard-Taylor: qui a dérape? (Bouchard-Taylor: who went off the rails?) had La Presse editor André Pratte commenting on that two-week-old open letter written by Premier Jean Charest.
More

Que. hearings a flawed model: observers
Marianne White, CanWest News Service
November 03, 2007

QUEBEC — They have come to Quebec’s roving commission on how to better integrate minority groups to complain about having to eat kosher peanut butter, how hijabs make them uncomfortable and to say immigrants should go home if they refuse to bend to the values of their new land.
That was just a snapshot of one open-mic session of the so-called reasonable accommodation commission touring the province.
At times the views have been anything but reasonable, but the question with just under a month left of these hearings is has it been worth it? More

Bouchard, Taylor take a stand
Commissioners lose a bit of their cool, spell out what they hope to accomplish
JEFF HEINRICH, The Gazette
October 26

First they gave a public platform to the controversial spokesmen of Hérouxville.
Then they spent the evening in a private meeting with what they called a “courageous” group of model immigrants from Latin America.
The next morning, they turned their attention once again to more negative outpourings against immigrants at one last public hearing in the Mauricie.
And then they lost a bit of their cool. Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor yesterday spelled out explicitly where they stand and what they hope to do with their commission on “reasonable accommodation” of religious and ethnic minorities.
It was the first time they have done so in a road show that has taken them across the province since early September.
“We’re trying to find means, Charles and I, to avoid what happened in France,” Bouchard told one presenter in a Trois Rivières hotel conference hall.
“We want to avoid the creation of ghettos, that people get rejected by society, that they be condemned to live in the margins of society, and that they then turn against their society, and with reason.” More

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