L&S lecture Feb. 12 2013 - Citizenship & Reasonable Accommodation
is justice always about equality?
is it strict calculation or uniform approach to allocate opportunities, options
• how u present options is it taking away?
• In Feb. 2007, Quebec society displeased with whats going on in province, unreasonable
accommodations; bouchard and Taylor hired to investigate the issue, and report back in 2 years
time. The two men appointed to investigate:
◦ Charles Taylor (Canadian philosopher), and sociologist(bouchard) on what future of Quebec
• there seemed to be growing insecurity in Quebec amongst francophone; particularly around
• idea that has crept into society that Muslims where taking over Canadian society!
• Report: how much distortion existed in respect to objective facts.And subjective perceptions
that in some way, Muslims where taking over.
◦ Muslims only 1.5 % of population in 2007, but perception was different! the courts were
bending over backwards! To find reasons to accommodate certain groups!
Facts and figures
• 900 briefs were submitted by groups, individuals, associations
• 241 people testified during 31 days of hearings.
• 22 additional regional forums were held.
• 3,423 people attended hearings.
• 13 research projects were commissioned and completed by academic researchers.
• 31 extra focus groups were held.
• Total cost: $3.7 million.
• Budgeted cost: $5.1 million
• scope of this commission, to give sense of how exhaust it was: facts and figures given:.
• Open hearings with no restrictions
• Rarely is there a commission that goes under budget! It was successful commission.
Crisis of Perception “accommodation crisis”
• Significant number of Quebecois have a negative judgment of accommodation practices –
Reason for this skepticism and negativity had to do with belief that accommodation would
threaten social order & our most basic values in Quebec.
• Increasing social & political turmoil over religious accommodation in particular
◦ Case involving Sikh student & right to wear kirpan
▪ imp case ^^moltani vs. commission scolaire! (major flash point that got ppl worked up)
▪ In 2006 supreme court of Canada struck down order of Quebec school authority that
prohibited this boy from wearing; it was violation of rights and freedoms. The Quebec
rights and freedoms different. But Canadian is more powerful.
▪ Kirpan: a dagger carried only by baptized Sikhs: in religion, they must be worn at all
times; 10 cm in length; the school decided its a weapon; but it was symbol of peace!
▪ appeal; supreme court of Canada: ruled against Quebec appeal; people were outraged in
▪ a few years after 9/11: Ontario example; many Muslim in Canada feel obligation to obey sharia law, system of law, led to creation of shariah tribunals and Ontario was one of
these provinces. In 1991, Ontario gov. Passes arbitration act. Province was in penny
pinching mode, needed to save money. The act allowed for ind. To resolve conflicts
through arbitration, mediation, rather than formal courts!. The act allowed: religiously
based and secular arbitration tribunals to practice in province. Some were religious some
not. The decisions were going to be recognized by regular courts!!!! several based on
roman catholic faith, aboriginal, Jewish, Muslim groups also keen: this became problem
and issue: Resistance surfaces against gov. recognition of shariah in Ontario. These
concerns fueled by legitimate concerns and misinformation and islamophobia. People
concerned with fair treatment of women. In terms of legitimate concerns, we have
groups like national association of women, and Muslim women, both groups argue
common something. Under shariah law, men and women not equal! divorce, inheritance,
child custody laws women.
▪ Dalton Maguinty he banned them; threat common ground
◦ Ontario: religious mediation & family law
• Quebec media: “active” role in public’s misconception
▪ media emphasized few cases that arose!
▪ Bouchard & Taylor say that issue was talked about in terms of crisis b/c media
misinformed the public misconception
• Right-wing Que political party: Mario Dumont(leader of RWQ) fueling discontentment &
• seemed like things were in a crisis range! but commissioners said that its not accurate to say
• The negative view point not coincides with increasing granting of accommodations. Flash
• Commission also noted a disconnect btwn number of accommodations actually granted and
amount of attention devoted to issues around accommodation
• # of accommodation actually started to decline quit significantly
Crisis of Perception: Examples
• many misconceptions (commission found that there was so much smoke but almost no fire)
1. Misconception: Men who accompanied their spouses to pre-natal classes by a local community
center were excluded from the course at the request of Muslim women.
◦ Fact: men are not excluded from these pre-natal classes.
2. Misconception: Government health care providers must comply with a specific dress code when
intervening with the Hasidic Jewish community.
• Fact: Government health care providers (I.e. nurses) are not subject to any dress code.
Consultation Commission onAccommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences
• In response to public discontent/anxiety concerning reasonable accommodation.
• Debate on RA(reasonable accommodation) = a symptom of a more basic problem concerning
the sociocultural integration model adopted by Que in 1970s.
◦ Quebec society “sufficiently divided at present”
◦ Must seek to reduce splits & tensions, not exacerbate them
◦ Need for compromise, negotiation & balance.
• illegitimate or mark in obvious threat to Quebec values; the commission interpreted that feeling of anxiety is coming form particular people; French Canadian origins
• English speaking Quebec community has general receptiveness to accommodation:
• 71.7% found Quebec french people overly tolerant of accommodation.Among Quebec people
who is other than french was 35.2% that it was not.
• Stems from jurisprudence in the realm of labor
• Aform of arrangement or relaxation of a rule aimed at ensuring respect for right to equality (an
◦ Means of combating indirect discrimination which following strict application of an
institutional standard, infringes on the individual’s right to equality.
◦ a change in a system to accommodate or make fair the system for individual based on
▪ Can be religious, academic, relaxed curriculum, employment based, turbance of RCMP.
Often mandate by law each country has own system of reasonable accommodations.
◦ To accommodate people with disabilities. relax the dress code. For pregnant women. Form
of arrangement or relaxation of a rule.
◦ It seeks to combat indirect discrimination.
• More broadly (more informal): all forms of arrangements allowed by managers, in public or
private institutions in respect of students, patients, customers, & so on.
◦ Report endorses this more creative, less formal response
◦ need to dejudicialize & decentralize solutions
◦ Acitizen approach to managing of differences
▪ Rather than litigate, ordinary Quebecois should use common sense.
• All forms of usually informal arrangements allowed by managers, commissioners enforce this
approach and less formal approach.
Rationale of RA
• in any society which two or more cultures interact; question is how to accommodate diversity;
• In pluralistic societies there is immediate need to accommodate
• Pluralistic societies & the need to manage differences
• Can be done by either:2 approaches
◦ 1. Domination & submission (authoritarian model)
▪ use of authority model, powerful contingency, dominant culture dominates so everyone
forced to assimilate into.
◦ 2. Harmonization – management of coexistence based on respect for diversity
▪ better approach: hasn’t been so popular. Attempt to mediate differences.
▪ Allow for coexistence
▪ harmonization: like accommodation
Changes to our conception of legal equality:
◦ Traditional conception of equality (is highly formal) is principle premised on uniform
▪ Formal, doctrinal, rigid, colo