Herouxville Councillor Warns Commissioners

Hrouxville councillor warns commissioners
Says academics 'playing with fire' Urging francophones to be more open, learn English won't solve problems: Drouin

The Gazette
May 19, 2008

The man who put a Quebec town's code of conduct for immigrants on the world stage says a commission examining the accommodation of the province's religious minorities is on dangerous ground when it recommends francophone Quebecers speak more English and be more open to religious differences.

“If (the Bouchard-Taylor commission) report says what I'm seeing in the headlines of The Gazette … then I think (the commission) is playing with fire,” Hrouxville town councillor Andr Drouin said.

“People will not accept that to make sure there's no religious accommodation in this province for people coming from other countries, we need to kneel down.

“We're tolerant people, just like in Italy or Denmark or the Netherlands or England. But one of these days, tolerance has a limit.”

Drouin made his comments after parts of the final draft of the commission's report were published Saturday by The Gazette.

Among the commission's recommendations were that francophone Quebecers learn more English and do more to get to know Muslims and other religious minorities.

In January 2007, Hrouxville, a Mauricie town with a population of about 1,300, found itself receiving worldwide media attention after it published a code of conduct for immigrants that included bans on the stoning of women and female circumcision. Hrouxville's manifesto, coupled with several highly publicized cases of religious accommodation in Montreal, led Premier Jean Charest to appoint academics Grard Bouchard and Charles Taylor to head a commission into the treatment of religious minorities in Quebec.

While the commission cites a more globalized society as motivation for Quebec francophones to learn English, the recommendation left Drouin – who is bilingual – scratching his head.

“If Taylor and Bouchard think all we have to do to make sure there is no religious accommodation in Quebec … is speak more English, then there's something here I'm missing,” he said.

“What we have asked for is that to make sure that when people come to our country – and when I say 'country,' I mean Canada – these people know how we live and that the state is the absolute law. No religion in here.

Drouin says he's received “hundreds” of calls and emails from Quebec and around the world critical of the commission's findings.

“They're telling me we spent $7 million (on the commission) to learn we're to blame.”