15 months after its creation by the Quebec government, and after extensive public hearings in all regions of the province on the issue of how far society should go to accommodate requests for religious and cultural adjustments from individuals from minority groups, the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences finally released its report and recommendations.
The 2 commissioners, sociologist Gérard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor, make 37 recommendations.
Among them, they suggest that the government prepare an official White Paper on secularism (“laïcité”), that it promote interculturalism and provide better funding to diversity programs, that it provide training to institutions about best practices in cultural adjustments so as to encourage the dejudicializing of the handling of accommodation requests, that it do more to integrate newcomers into a French-speaking majority society and that it offer better protection to those newcomers against all forms of discrimination.
When it comes to religious symbols, one of the flashpoints in the debate, the Commission recommends that all public officials who embody the authority and the neutrality of the state and its institutions, such as judges, Crown prosecutors, police officers, prison guards and the president and vice-president of the National Assembly of Québec be prohibited from wearing any (hijab, crucifix, etc.).
However, teachers, public servants, health professionals and all other government employees would be authorized to do so.
13 expert consultant reports are also available on the Commission website.
Earlier posts on the Library Boy blog about the reasonable accommodation debate in Quebec include:
- Quebec Hearings on Reasonable Accommodation of Minorities Begin Next Month (August 15, 2007): “The Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences was created by the provincial government last spring after a number of incidents involving clashes or controversies between members of minority groups, in particular religious minorities, and the members of the highly secularized French-speaking majority that overthrew the restraints of its earlier conservative Catholic culture more than 40 years ago during the ‘Quiet Revolution’ of the 1960s. The Commission’s consultation document is available online”.
- Policy Options Sept. 2007 Issue on Reasonable Accommodation of Minorities (September 11, 2007): “The Sept. 2007 issue of Policy Options, a journal of the Montreal think tank Institute for Research on Public Policy, contains a number of articles on the issue of reasonable accommodation of minorities, in particular religious minorities. The issue was published just as public hearings of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on state secularism, immigrant integation and relations between minorities and the French-speaking majority of the province get underway in Quebec.”