Couil­lard says Que­bec has ‘demons’ but is an open and lov­ing so­ci­ety

Cape Breton Post - - CANADA -

The deadly shoot­ing at a Que­bec mosque could serve as a wa­ter­shed mo­ment in the some­times tense de­bate in the prov­ince over race and re­li­gion, Premier Philippe Couil­lard said Tues­day.

Couil­lard ac­knowl­edged the prov­ince has its “demons’’ in terms of at­ti­tudes to­ward Mus­lims and that “xeno­pho­bia, racism and ex­clu­sion’’ are present in the prov­ince.

But the premier pointed to the out­pour­ing of grief at vig­ils as a clear sign Que­be­cers are in favour of an open and ac­cept­ing so­ci­ety.

“Spon­ta­neously, cit­i­zens wanted to show their sol­i­dar­ity, their re­jec­tion of all hate speech, the re­jec­tion of ev­ery­thing other than in­clu­sion and wel­com­ing in our so­ci­ety,’’ Couil­lard said.

“I think that it’s a turn­ing point for Que­bec, to see Que­be­cers ral­ly­ing around th­ese val­ues.’’

Que­bec has had to con­tend in re­cent years with a con­tro­ver­sial de­bate over race and re­li­gious ac­com­mo­da­tion and held a high-pro­file in­quiry into the mat­ter.

More re­cently, the pre­vi­ous Parti Que­be­cois gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a so-called char­ter of val­ues that called for a ban on os­ten­ta­tious re­li­gious sym­bols, such as the hi­jab, in pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions.

It never be­came law once the PQ lost the 2014 elec­tion.

Charles Taylor, the philoso­pher who co-chaired the 200708 com­mis­sion that stud­ied the is­sue of in­te­grat­ing im­mi­grants, said the rhetoric stem­ming from that so-called rea­son­able ac­com­mo­da­tion de­bate was a fac­tor in Sun­day’s shoot­ing.

“The way in which the two (events) in­ter­sect, I think, is that th­ese peo­ple are en­cour­aged when main­stream politi­cians ... give some cre­dence to this (extremism) by, in var­i­ous ways, tar­get­ing Is­lam,’’ Taylor said.

“It does cre­ate an im­pres­sion among peo­ple, who are very illinformed about this, which is most peo­ple, that Is­lam is a dan­ger _ that if you have to re­strict it like that, it must be a dan­ger.’’

Couil­lard ac­knowl­edged the im­por­tance of words two days af­ter six peo­ple were shot dead and sev­eral oth­ers were wounded.

“Peo­ple lis­ten to ev­ery word,’’ Couil­lard said. “Badly cho­sen words hurt, some­times for life, and we have to be con­scious about that.’’

PQ Leader Jean-Fran­cois Lisee, mean­while, said Tues­day the po­lit­i­cal class has a role to play in en­sur­ing there is a re­spon­si­ble de­bate. He said he re­grets say­ing dur­ing the PQ lead­er­ship cam­paign last year that a burqa could con­ceal a firearm.

“It was not a good idea to bring that into the Que­bec de­bate,’’ he con­ceded.

Lisee was also asked about the links be­tween the doomed PQ val­ues char­ter and ten­sions with Mus­lims.

“You have to know that one of the worst things, be­sides the Is­lamic State and (U.S. Pres­i­dent) Don­ald Trump, is to drag out a de­bate on the rules of co­hab­i­ta­tion (among dif­fer­ent groups) with­out ever de­cid­ing any­thing,’’ he said.

The Couil­lard Lib­er­als are study­ing their own bill on the mat­ter.

One Mus­lim man, Mo­hammed Ali Saidane, said Mon­day there’s been an “in­sid­i­ous at­mos­phere’’ re­gard­ing Mus­lims since the rea­son­able ac­com­mo­da­tion de­bates of a decade ago.

Saidane, a Cana­dian cit­i­zen who has been a Que­bec City res­i­dent for more than three decades, at­tended an event with Couil­lard and urged more ac­tion from the premier.

Asked a day later whether the at­mos­phere is in­deed “more in­sid­i­ous’’ in Que­bec than else­where, Couil­lard replied, “it is dif­fer­ent in ev­ery com­mu­nity.’’

CP PHOTO

Que­bec Premier Philippe Couil­lard, Que­bec City mayor Regis Labeaume, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mul­cair lead a march dur­ing a vigil Mon­day, Jan­uary 30, 2017 in Que­bec City. A shoot­ing at a Que­bec City mosque left six peo­ple dead and eight oth­ers in­jured Sun­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.