SOSC 2350 Note 17
- We will have a doctoral student to democracy and Canada’s response to 9/11
as well as Foucault and Smart
- Reasonable accommodation and the Bouchard Taylor report.
- This report implicates fundamental issues regarding:
o Equality and social justice.
o This is an important text of moving us forward in social justice
- Thinking of social justice: an example:
o She has one cake and she’s hosting a birthday party, and she’s
involving one individual.
o How do you determine who would get what time of pieces?
Formal equality seems more just, however is it the most
rational approach of cutting up cake?
Is justice always about equality?
Bouchard – Taylor Report
Facts and Figures
- 900 Briefs were submitted by groups, individuals, and associations
- 241 People testified during 31 days of hearings
o These were investigation of equality and reasonable accommodation.
- 22 Additional regional forums were held
o They wanted to insure that there was representation from
- 3,423 People attended hearings
o These were open hearings to the general public without any
restriction – they were free to do so.
- 13 research projects were commissioned and completed by academic
researchers from different provinces.
- 31 extra focus groups were held with individuals from different milieus
- Total cost: 3.7$ million
- Budgeted cost: $5.1 million
- The commission is a result of the growing insecurity of Quebec amongst
o This particularly was around Muslims about the idea that somehow
Muslims were taking over Canadian society
How much distortion exists about objective facts and all of
these subjective perceptions?
o For example, Muslim in Canada presented 1.5% of the total
population in 2007.
o The perception was that the courts were “bending-over-backwards””
to find reasons to accommodate groups. Crisis of Perception – accommodation crisis
- Most Quebecers had a very negative judgment of accommodation practices
believing that it threatened social order and our most basic values
o This negative viewpoint of negative viewpoint and the threat did not
coincide the sudden increase in granted accommodations
- Increasing social and political turmoil over religious accommodation in
o Case involving Sikh student and the right to wear kirpan
This is Multane v. Commission Scolaire
This is a major flashpoint that got people worked up to
In 2006, the SCC struck down an order of the Quebec school
authority that prohibited as 12-year-old Sikh to wear his
kirpan to school.
The Canadian Charter of Freedoms has precedence over all
provincial legislation – including the Quebec Charter.
The Child’s school decided that this was classified as a weapon;
therefore the Council of Commissioners decided that the child
could wear a non-metal kirpan.
The SCC allowed the child to wear it. People were outraged –
since this was after 9/11 there was still a bit of intolerance to
o Ontario: religious mediation and family law
Sharia law is a system of law used in many Islamic countries. It
led to the creation of Sharia tribunals.
In 1991 the Ontario government passes the arbitration act.
The province was in a petty mode to save money and
this act allowed for individuals to resolve conflicts
through arbitration (mediation, rather than putting
them through the formal courts)
This act permitted religiously and secular tribunals to
practice in the process.
You had tribunals practicing in the process. The
decisions were going to be recognized by regular courts.
There was some resistance against Sharia courts of
Ontario that is fueled by some legitimate concerns as
well as misinformation and Islamaphobia
o People were concerned about fair treatment of
In terms of the legitimate concerns, we have the National
Association of Women or the Canadian Council of Muslim
women and they both argue that under Sharia law, men and
women are not treated equally. Therefore, for the province to
recognize arbitration is very problematic. Therefore, women have worse results in divorce, child
custody, and inheritance matters.
o For example, under Sharia laws a woman can
only get half of what the man gets in inheritance.
o Therefore, should the Ontario government
recognize the result of these tribunals?
In 2005 Dalton McGuinty bans the arbitration courts
- Quebec media; “Active role in public’s misperception
o This as critical of the media and one of the reasons that they thought
that immigrants were a problem is that the media would emphasize
the very few cases of conflict raised, and made it seem that every issue
is as severe.
o There was much media focus on issues at a time when granting of
accommodation had declined.
The rates of accommodation being granted had significantly
They talk about the role of the media and the right-wing
Quebec political party.
o Mario Dumont, leader of ADQ, talked about reasonable
accommodation in very inflammatory language about “These darn
immigrants come to our country, reap all the benefits from our
orderly society, and look what is happening.
Shouldn’t they accommodate to our culture and our rules?
- Right-wing que political party fuelling discontentment and misconceptions
Crisis of Perception examples
1. Misconception: men who accompanied their spouses at prenatal classes were
excluded because of women
a. This wasn’t true.
2. Government health care providers must comply with a specific dress code
when intervening with the Hasidic Jewish community
a. This wasn’t true because they weren’t subject to any dress code
- The commission found there was lots of “smoke” and no “fire”, meaning there
were more misconceptions than issues
Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural
- In response to public discontent/anxiety concerning reasonable
- Debate on Reasonable Accommodation = a symptom of a more basic problem
concerning the sociocultural integration model adopted by Quebec in 1970s
o Quebec society sufficiently divided at present
o Must seek to reduce splits and tensions, not rhetoric exacerbate them
o Need for compromise, negotiation and balance.
- French had a problem against this
- The English people had a general acceptiveness of this - 71.7% of Quebec’s French found Quebec’s society to be overly tolerant of
- Only 35.2% of non-French speaking Quebecers felt that the problem was
- Stems from jurisprudence in the realm of labour law.
o It is the responsibility of employers to change some general rules for
certain employees (statutory obligations)
o For example, you have to change sink heights to accommodate
o It could include things like relaxing the dress code for pregnant
It’s making an adjustment to the workplace rule that will
benefit a certain group.
- It’s a form of arrangement or relaxation of a rule aimed at ensuring respect
for right to equality
o Means of combating indirect discrimination which following strict
application of an institutional standard, infringes on the individuals
right to equality
- These have to be proven based on the individual’s need
- More broadly (informal): all forms of arrangements allowed by managers, in
public or private institutions in respect of students, patients, customers, and
o Report endorses this is more creative, less formal response
Bouchard and Taylor prefer a much more informal and
creative approach to accommodation requests
They’re sending the message that ultimately it should
be up to the citizens to work through some of these
problems. Rather than litigate reasonable
accommodations, ordinary Quebecers should just use
their common sense of case-by-case basis
o Need to dejudicialize and decentralize solutions
o A citizen approach to managing of differences
- Accommodation is usually prescribed by the law
- Essentially, what accommodation seeks to do is to combat indirect
discrimination if one insisted on strictly applying some institutional
o It recognizes that doing so would prevent the infringement on the
individuals right to equality
o When speaking about accommodation we speak about all forms of
informal arrangements in respect of populations of students, patients,
o Pluralistic nature of societies and the need to manage differences In any society where there are two or more cultures, there is a
question of how to accommodate diversity
In pluralistic soci