Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gérard Bouchard Should Resign

Gérard Bouchard doesn't seem to understand that his job is to listen to people and not to impose his badly nuanced pro-multiculturalism sentiments.

The consultation of the Bouchard-Taylor Study Commission didn't officially begin that one of its heads, Gérard Bouchard, is at the centre of a controversy. In an interview given to the newspaper Le Devoir, Bouchard affirmed that his study commission will surely be about consulting Quebeckers.

After all, the consultation commission's motto in French roughly means: "Exchanging in order to hear each other." However, his belief that philosopher Charles Taylor and him must "reply" to people who are against religious accommodations poses a problem.

In this case, former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard's brother should resign as one of the heads of the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences. Gérard Bouchard doesn't seem to understand that his job is to neutrally listen to people and not to impose his badly nuanced pro-multiculturalism sentiments.

First of all, religious accommodations (and by extension multiculturalism) seem to complex as a phenomenon for him and secondly, he's not supposed to act like a political commentator.

Badly nuanced thoughts

For Gérard Bouchard, intellectuals must convince people that "diversity [is] culturally good and enriching for Quebec." Moreover, this academic thinks that intellectuals didn't find any arguments in order to convince us, poor brainless citizens, that multiculturalism is the ultimate invention of all eras. Needless to say that Bouchard stresses on the fact that anybody who is opposed to "diversity" (or rather multiculturalism) is definitely opposed to immigration.

Seriously, what kind of "diversity" is this historian talking about?

This man should know that ethnic diversity - which is inextricably linked to immigration in some cases - is an observable social fact. The notion itself implies the presence of people who don't share the same ethnic or racial background with the majority of people. Period.

As for cultural diversity or pluralism (or rather multiculturalism), it is a doctrine invented by American philosopher Horace Kallen in 1915. According to Kallen, all ethnic groups' (especially ethnic minorities) must keep their own culture. Kallen thought that this had to be done so that ethnic minorities' respective culture can equally take part in the elaboration of the USA's national identity alongside with the identity of white American Anglo-Saxons. In short, multiculturalism implies the absence of mainstream culture.

In short, by lamentably failing to clarify his thoughts, Gérard Bouchard has tarnished the credibility of his Consultation Commission. Furthermore, he has implicitly accused many Quebeckers of being bigots who are against immigration. To sort this out, most of us, Quebeckers, understand the benefits of immigration. However, most of us share the belief that all laws must be applied on everybody without any distinction about the ethnic belonging, individual religion and the colour of one's skin.


By saying that Quebeckers must imperatively understand the benefit of multiculturalism, Bouchard is apparently trying to convince people to think like him. Whenever he has been giving his opinions since a few weeks, Gérard Bouchard admitted that he was acting as one of the heads of the Consultation Commission.

This is wrong, because in our parliamentary traditions, a commissioner has a duty to preserve secrecy. The objective of the Consultation Commission doesn't consist in convincing people, but to listen to them without any judgement of values. Therefore, when Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor will write their report, they must only talk about what people said. Finally comes the obligation for Bouchard and Taylor to make recommendations to the Quebecker government not by taking in consideration their opinions, but rather those coming from people who went to the hearings.

After all, the report, which will be published in March 2008, is not a bill! Moreover, our government is in no legislative obligation to follow the recommendations of parliamentary commissioners.

With that said, people go there not to see their opinions being blasted by Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor. In fact, during a hearing, commissioners are supposed to take notes, supervise discussions between citizens and to act as moderators. All in all, Gérard Bouchard's incapacity to understand our parliamentry traditions reveal his visible lack of professionalism.

With his condescending attitude toward many Quebeckers, Gérard Bouchard confirms something that I've always thought about the Consultation Commission: a pure waste of time and money. The right to have an opinion is not measured by the number of years that you spent in your life to burn your ass on a school bench. If Bouchard can't understand that, he should definitely resign and find another forum to spill his opinions out.

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