La commission des raisonnables
La Bouchard-Taylor était à Montréal cette semaine. Ils étaient arrivés la semaine d'avant, de passage dans le quartier Côte-des-Neiges, dans la seule ville vraiment multiculturelle du Québec. Je ne sais pas vraiment ce qui m'a pris de me présenter au Palais des Congrès ce mardi et jeudi soirs, sans m'être inscrit d'avance, mais ayant tout de même suivi de plus ou moins près (plus que mes pairs, en tout cas) le débat généré par les accommodements raisonnables ici.
So, I went to the citizens' forum at Palais des Congrès. The Tuesday one was in French, and the Thursday one was in English (being the only one to be so in the whole of Quebec)... In fact, I took a whole bunch of notes, and will probably re-read them later. There was a mixture of people, of expected points of view. Because I am of the Chinese Canadian Quebecer Montrealer ETC community, I was not too surprised, but still a little disappointed that there was not a single person who identified as Chinese going to the mic (one probably ethnic Chinese from Mauritius, citing his country of origin's example as multicultural, multilingual English/French - and informally Chinese/Indian/Creole, I presume).
Loud demonstrators disturbed the Tuesday forum. There were so many seats available that day (room was large but was probably filled only to 75-80%), so couldn't they just sit down like everyone else and have their right to speech when it is their turn? Apparently, many were arrested, that night, but everything looked "cleaned up" when the participants were free from their 2-hour ordeal.
As a consequence, they buffed up the security for Thursday's forum, requiring people to be stamped, and refused access to the upper levels, where the commission is held, unless they were registered.
The only Asian-looking faces who talked (on Thursday) were Korean evangelists, while I did not pay attention, as I felt they might've been preaching. Another teenage Asian boy and girl were eating Tim Hortons during the forum. I was sitting in the back row, as a minority with a minority (the bunch from Montreal Français, who coughed loudly quite often, but still polite when it was their time to speak, and most, if not all, had left by 8:45), in a room filled of minorities (not as in minority multicultural, but as anglo minority), in a province of a people in minority in this country and continent. Two or three of the non-French non-Whites interventions were in denial that there was a problem.
One very important recurring themes is integration on the job market, which is tied in with language integration. The director general of Chinese Family Service of Greater Montreal (and of Sino-Québec on the south shore - which btw has nothing to do with this Sino-Québec), Xixi Li, spoke at the commission during the day on Thursday, and reflected on these difficulties.
But in general, I was content to see the things being said, and what is not always being portrayed on television (one lady, married to Muslim man, started with saying that she lived with three mosques within a km, and then criticized her indoctrinated niece - then left fifteen minutes later with a huge defiant smile on her face). On the other hand, the experience was completely draining, and ultimately depressing.
On Wednesday, another Midi de la Maison at Radio-Canada was the screening and Q&A on Métissé Serré / Digital Diversity, the Radio-Canada International contest that was called a national treasure by one highly-respected Globe and Mail columnist.
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