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POL2101 (26)
Chapter 30

Chapter 30 – Bouchard-Taylor Report on Accommodation Practices in Quebec

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Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL2101
Professor
Luc Turgeon

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30 – Bouchard-Taylor Report on Accommodation Practices in Quebec Gerard Bouchard and Charles Taylor (2008) Summary of the Full Report I. Mandate and Investigation A. Mandate • On February 8, 2007, Quebec Premier Jean Charest announced the establishment of the Consultation Commission onAccommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences in response to public discontent regarding reasonable accommodation. • The Commission’s mandate: a) take stock of accommodation practices in Quebec; b) analyze the attendant issues bearing in mind the experience of other societies; c) conduct an extensive consultation on this topic; d) formulate recommendations to the government to ensure that accommodation practices conform to Quebec’s values (pluralistic, democratic, egalitarian society). • Second approach – the debate on reasonable accommodation is the symptom of a more basic problem concerning the socio-cultural integration model established in Quebec since the 1970s (review of interculturalism, immigration, secularism, and Quebec identity). • Focus on economic and social dimensions to ensure cultural integration into Quebec society B. Investigation • 13 research projects carried out by specialists from Quebec universities • 31 focus groups with individuals from different milieus of Montreal and regions • 59 meetings with experts and representatives of socio-cultural organization • Advisory committee of 15 specialists from various disciplines • Public consultations – 4 province-wide forums (over 800 participants) • Total of 3,423 participants betweenAugust 2007 and January 2008 II. Sources of theAccommodation Crisis A. ACrisis of Perception • Conclusion: the foundations of collective life in Quebec are not in a critical situation • No striking increase in the adjustments or accommodation of public institutions • Discrepancy between practices in the field – especially in the education and health sectors – negative perception of reasonable accommodation that spread in the public often centered on an erroneous or partial perception of practices in the field. B. Anxiety over Identity • Media enthusiasm and rumors contribute to the crisis of perception • Emotional reaction to requests for religious adjustments over gender equality and secularism • Result: identity counter-reaction movement expressed through the rejection of harmonization practices • Some Quebecers target immigrants (scapegoats) – gives the impression of a face- off between two minority groups (each asking the other to accommodate it) • Members of ethnocultural majority are afraid of being swamped by fragile minorities • Quebecers of French-Canadian ancestry are still not at ease with their twofold status as a majority in Quebec and a minority in Canada and NorthAmerica. • However, a number of Western nations are experiencing similar malaises regarding accommodation (Quebec vs. European countries) III. Social Norms • Key source of anxiety: lack of guidelines to handle accommodation requests • Quebec currently uses an array of norms and guidelines that form the basis of a “common public culture” – reference point to guide process of evaluating requests (focus on societal norms that would benefit from clarification, integration, intercultural relations, and open secularism). A. ReasonableAccommodation and ConcertedAdjustment • More than 1 way to define or delineate the field of harmonization practices • Legal route vs. Citizen route • Legal route – requests must conform to formal codified procedures that the parties bin against each other to decree a winner and loser – reasonable accommodation. • Citizen route – less formal and relies on negotiation and search for a compromise – find a solution that satisfies both parties. • Citizen route is preferred: a) it benefits citizens to learn to manage their differences and disagreements b) this path avoids congesting the courts c) the values underlying the citizen route (exchanges, negotiation, reciprocity, etc.) are the same one that underpin the Quebec integration model • Most requests follow the citizen route (few rely on courts) • Many milieus have acquired solid expertise in the realm of intercultural relations and harmonization practices B. Interculturalism • Interculturalism as an integration policy has never been officially defined by the Quebec government • The Canadian multiculturalism model does not adaptable to conditions in Quebec • Generally, it is in the interests of any community to maintain a minimum of cohesion – community can adopt orientations, ensure participation of citizens in public debates, create a feeling of solidarity required for an efficient egalitarian society, mobilize the population in the event of a crisis, and benefit from the enrichment of ethnocultural diversity. • For a small nation such as Quebec, integration is a c
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