Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Immigrant debate has 'gone too far': Charest

Tuesday, February 6, 2007
CBC News

Quebec Premier Jean Charest is taking a rural town councillor to task for his comments about immigrants and cultural accommodation.

"The debate has gone too far," Charest said Monday when he was asked about Hérouxville municipal councillor André Drouin and his quest to review reasonable accommodation policies.

During a highly watched television appearance Sunday, Drouin spoke directly to the camera and asked Charest to declare a state of cultural emergency to protect Quebec culture and examine the practice of accommodating non-Christian beliefs and practices in society.

The majority of Quebecers don't share Drouin's opinion, the premier said.

"There are people who, in all evidence, have points of view to which not all Quebecers adhere," Charest said. "Like this idea of calling a state of emergency. We're quite capable in Quebec of integrating people from the outside. That's our history."

Hérouxville has become a household name in Quebec and caught the attention of international media after it adopted a code of conduct for immigrants in January.

The code, designed to help guide new immigrants to Quebec, shocked many with its coarse directives, including a ban on genital mutilation and female immolation.

Two neighbouring towns voted Monday night on resolutions that called for changes to Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The towns of Saint-Adelphe and Trois-Rives endorsed motions that demand the provincial and federal governments restrict reasonable accommodation for religious group.

On Feb. 2, the town of St-Roch-de-Mékinac adopted a motion to support Hérouxville's code.The towns are in Quebec's central Mauricie region, near Trois-Rivières.