Quebeckers to decide whether to be nice to immigrants

So, any bets on whether the ongoing spat between Harper and Elections Canada is going to actually result in 17 Conservative MPs pulled from the benches due to campaign finance irregularities? If so, the rumoured fall election will definitely come to pass. I hear they’re decorating the Conservative buses already.

Speaking of ongoing spats, the “Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differencesannounced during the last election is well into their series of public hearings, giving us Quebec residents a chance to share our opinions about “reasonable accommodations”, that is, whether recently arrived ethnic minorities should be allowed to retain their own distinct societies within the distinct society that is Quebec. So far (at least as reported by the English language media) they’ve been about as bad as I expected. For example, a man in Saguenay complained at length about how he’s forced to each kosher food because all the products in his supermarket have been certified (which he claims pushes up the price about 10%), the mayor of Saguenay stated he intended to continue opening council meetings with a Catholic prayer in order to preserve his community’s “fundamental values”, and now a suburban mayor (and former Conservative MP) is calling for a total ban on wearing of “religious clothing” in public, by which I suspect she means the hijab and not the crucifix (just like in France). But a better start towards a secular society while preserving individual liberties would be to remove the huge crucifix which hangs in the National Assembly in Quebec City, no?

A few presenters have suggested the commission draft a constitution for Quebec to lay out the values new arrivals are expected to adopt, but that of course would take forever to approve. Really, what’s going on here is that Charest dodged all questions regarding the accommodation of immigrants during the last election by telling people he’d commission this study. As with the Royal Commissions Ottawa sends out from time to time under similar circumstances, it got Charest off the hook, and while I’m sure the final report will be thoroughly researched and interesting to read, their recommendations will be entirely non-binding and I see no reason to expect them to be politically feasible. If Charest had the imagination and support to push this sort of thing through, he wouldn’t have needed the commission in the first place.

At any rate, I’ve registered to attend the hearing in Montreal, if anyone feels like coming with and has no plans for the evening of November 29th (despite the fact that the activist group I’ve been working with here lately has been threatening to disrupt it). One of the commissioners is the author of the interesting essay Stephen once pointed out to me, so I’m hoping he’ll chair the session well.

In other news, samba class #2 is this evening, which is good except that through bad luck I have three small but annoying deep cuts on my hands right now and holding the drumsticks is going to hurt. Yay for endorphins, I guess.