Just when you think that French Canadians aren’t all that racist (even if their cousins across the Atlantic are), some creepy Quebecker does something so incredibly ignorant that you can hardly believe we let la not-always belle province stay in the country.
What was Andre Drouin’s intention, exactly, when he led town council to formalize “official behavioural norms” to include not burning women to death, not stoning them to death, or throwing acid on their faces? Was it to prove himself the “village idiot”? Was it to prove the entire village of Herouxville, located about 165 kilometres northeast of Montreal, idiotic? Or was it to ensure that no immigrants ever move there, ever? Right now, the number of new Canadians living in that village numbers exactly zero. Given the publicity, that is not likely to change. Good thing for us here on the prairies, because we want new Canadians very badly indeed.
But it isn’t good news really, because nothing in the international media indicates just how deeply embarrassed the rest of Canada is by this one little town’s unbelievably ignorant, racist resolution. One news story, printed far away in New Zealand, reports that the town is reacting to a provincial debate over how far communities should go to accommodate the customs of new Canadians. Apparently last year a Montreal gym agreed to install frosted windows after a nearby Hassidic synagogue said it was offended by the sight of adults exercising. Newspapers say a Montreal community centre banned men from prenatal classes to respect Hindu and Sikh traditions. An internal police magazine suggested women police officers allow their male colleagues to interview Hassidic Jews.
What’s with these arrivistes? It’s not as if those of us who got here hundreds years ago imported our traditions, after all. We did not import the concept of owning land instead of living on it. We did not import language, cuisine, customs . . . no, we tried our best to fit right in with the hunter-gatherer culture that was dominant at the time. Right? Smallpox, syphilis, and TB were just, well, unfortunate. Right?
A pox on that village of dyed in the pure wool idiots until they issue a new resolution: an international apology.
To every immigrant thinking of coming to Canada, please do. But come to Alberta and work. We need you! We want you! Or come to Saskatchewan. For five bucks, you can buy a whole town — and make it a far better one than Herouxville.