Multiculturalism "Idiocy", Charges Anti-Immigration Crusader

Multiculturalism 'idiocy,' charges anti-immigration crusader

By Kevin Dougherty
Montreal Gazette
May 20, 2010

QUEBEC The small-town radical secularist who helped touch off Quebec's reasonable accommodation furor three years ago cast his own unique spotlight Thursday on the province's proposed limitations on wearing the Islamic face veil.

Andre Drouin dubbed Canada's multiculturalism policy “idiocy” and called for a moratorium on immigration. He also cast doubt on the separation of church and state, noting that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms starts off affirming the “supremacy of God.”

Drouin made his comments on the last scheduled day of the National Assembly's public hearings on Bill 94, which sets out guidelines for accommodating religious differences in Quebec's public sector.

Among its provisions, Bill 94 would prohibit anyone seeking government services from wearing the niqab, an Islamic face covering that only leaves a slit for the eyes.

After just three days of testimony representing only a handful of more than 60 briefs received on the topic, the Liberal government has suspended the public debate until a date yet to be determined in August.

While other witnesses this week objected to the proposed law claiming that Muslim women are being singled out, Drouin endorsed a view that no religion offers women equality.

He said he supports the Parti Quebecois' proposal for a charter of secularism, to end favourable treatment for religions and banning of the display of religious symbols.

“We say to people from all the other countries who come here, 'Come, and do what you want with your culture,'” he told the committee.

Drouin is author of the controversial “life code” in Herouxville which warned prospective immigrants to his village of 1,338 in Quebec's heartland that they were not allowed to burn or stone women. The code, which sparked the roving government commission on reasonable accommodation, also stipulated that in Herouxville: “Men and women teachers accomplish their functions with their face uncovered.”

Since his moment of infamy in 2007, Drouin has become a fixture on the secular scene in Canada and has had speaking engagements across the country, addressing groups sympathetic to his town's take on immigration.

On Thursday, Drouin said Quebec cannot absorb the immigrants it welcomes now, and demanded a total moratorium on immigration.

Quebec Justice Minister Kathleen Weil and other committee members suggested to Drouin that his comments, which included a call to end the tax-free status of churches, were off topic.

Drouin replied that for the last 3 1/2 years, he has been denouncing “religious accommodations,” and favours rewriting the Canadian and Quebec rights charters, to remove freedom of religion.

Weil said Bill 94 is predicated on the neutrality of the state and charter rights applying to all.

“We are all equal,” the minister said.