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|Enough with “Reasonable Accommodation.”|
Sep. 23rd, 2007 at 10:01 pm
Memo to the Quebeckers: the war is over. France lost. You are English territory now. In fact, you’ve been English territory for 244 years.
When I moved to Canada three years ago, I thought the QuÃ©bec vs. the Rest of the Country thing was cute. It reminded me of the various regional rivalries we have in the States. It didn’t seem like anything that couldn’t be overcome or that would prevent respectful relations.
I have learned. I’m now a Separatist. I want QuÃ©bec to secede. They want out of Canada and I want them out too. I think they would fail miserably outside of the Confederation and learn a harsh lesson but I don’t really care. I want them gone.
No offense to the many kind, thoughtful and sane QuÃ©bÃ©coise I’m sure are out there. But if you are out there reading this, please put a muzzle on your ignorant, intolerant, mouthy neighbors. They’re giving the rest of you a really bad name.
The newspapers and magazines in one of the world’s most tolerant nations (one of the first to legalize homosexual marriage) have been documenting a disturbing trend. The people of QuÃ©bec, on whose behalf the country’s 23 million non-French speakers are obliged to have French education in schools, to speak fluent French to hold a government position, to listen to public announcements twice*, object to the “reasonable accommodations” made to more recent immigrants. (There is a grand total of 6.7 million Francophones — those who speak primarily French — in Canada.)
A recent “MacLean’s” article quoted some concerned QuÃ©bÃ©oise complaining at a forum. One woman talked of “enduring” Muslims when she lived in Egypt. She was “shocked and dismayed” to see two veiled women with five children in tow at a local shopping center. There was a similar article in “The Globe and Mail” a few weeks ago. A group of Quebeckers, upset at the intrusions into their society, had organized a weird kind of campaign. They moved from city to city complaining and trying to stir people up. A man spoke of his resentment of a school-board decision to allow a Sikh boy to wear his ritual knife to school. He objected to “one person imposing his will on the rest of us.” He said it was “like welcoming a guest into my house and then they turn around and slowly push me out of my own door.” One woman complained bitterly about a Muslim woman in her office who washes her feet before prayers in the one sink on the floor. “She should leave her religion at home,” says the Quebecker.
I have a few things to say to those people. To the woman from Gatineau: You can come and spend your money in my town any time but don’t open your mouth. I don’t want to have to endure you and your weird French talk. To the gentleman upset about the school: the issue was one child following certain precepts of his religion in a public place. The issue was not forcing all the other children to do the same. A more accurate description of life in QuÃ©bec would be “like being welcomed into a home and then told that I was welcome only as long as I gave up everything that had ever made me who I was and became exactly like my hosts.” To the upset office worker: She washes her feet in the sink, not in the tap itself. Your water is not being contaminated. If it bothers you that much, why not buy your co-worker a simple plastic tub and maybe a small towel? Religion — to the people who truly believe — is not shawl or a hat to be left at home but a vital, integral part of their person. You might as well say “She should leave her eyes at home” or “She should leave her mind at home.”
If QuÃ©bec truly wants an end to reasonable accommodations, I’m happy to help. As it is a ludicrous percentage of the teaching jobs available right now require French. The only reason children in Canada even need French is to get a job in the government that made this silly concession to the QuÃ©bÃ©coise in 1982. So there would be more jobs available for my husband and I wouldn’t have to worry about helping my children do homework in a language I haven’t spoken since junior high.** There would be space for more information on the packaging of the products I buy. I wouldn’t ever have to turn the box over six times looking for the answer to my question only to realize that they didn’t have space for it in two languages.
Yes, this farce of reasonable accommodation has gone on long enough. If it’s time for the immigrants to become real Quebeckers then it is long past time the Quebeckers became real Canadians.
*Airports, cereal boxes, fire alarms that blare low battery warnings at 4 in the morning… you get it all twice. Ask me how I know.
** My husband (Canadian-born and bred) points out that this isn’t strictly true. He says Ontario has been bi-lingual since the 1800’s. I still say it’s a silly concession, whether it was Ontario two hundred some years ago or the federal government twenty some years ago. And I’m not re-writing that paragraph to tease out the differences between provincial and federal government. However it happened, to get a job in either today you need to speak French.