February 1, 2007
Welcome to the neighborhood
Religious and racial tolerance, Quebec-style:
Immigrants wishing to live in a small Quebec town must be aware they cannot stone women to death, burn them alive or circumcise them, according to rules drawn up by the local council.
A “publication of standards” agreed by the mayor and councillors of Hérouxville, warns “new arrivals” that they cannot recreate “the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries”.
It says: “We consider that men and women are of the same value” and stipulates that a woman should be allowed to drive a car, vote, sign cheques, dance, dress as she wants, walk alone in public, study, have a job and do anything else that a man can do.
The guidelines continue: Hérouxville’s standards also include girls and boys being able to exercise together, people only covering their faces at Halloween and children not taking weapons to school—the last stipulation possibly a challenge to a recent Canadian court ruling that upheld the right of Sikh boys to carry ceremonial daggers.
Under “our festivities”, Hérouxville bluntly advises immigrants that “we listen to music, we drink alcoholic beverages in public or private places, we dance and at the end of every year we decorate a tree with balls and tinsel and some lights.”
… Andre Drouin, the councillor who devised the declaration, told the National Post newspaper that the town was not racist.
“We invite people from all nationalities, all languages, all sexual orientations, whatever, to come live with us, but we want them to know ahead of time how we live,” he said.
Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said the declaration had “set the clock back for decades” as far as race relations were concerned.
“I was shocked and insulted to see these kinds of false stereotypes and ignorance about Islam and our religion... in a public document written by people in authority who discriminate openly,” he said.
… A recent poll of Quebecers revealed that 59 percent admitted to harbouring some kind of racist feelings.
Montreal police are investigating one of its officers after he posted an anti-immigrant song called “That’s Enough Already” on the Internet.
“We want to accept ethnics, but not at any price... if you’re not happy with your fate, there’s a place called the airport,” the officer sings.
This from the province where a popular way to describe “having bad intentions” is “avoir des plans de negres.” (Use Google Translate if you really have to.)
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