Tuesday, January 30, 2007
A Montreal police officer could face disciplinary action for writing a song urging immigrants in Quebec to assimilate.
Police spokesman Yan Lafrenière insisted the song does not represent values upheld by Montreal police.
The song — currently circulating on the internet — is called That's Enough Already, and suggests Québécois culture is being denigrated by a wave of new immigrants who insist on practising different religious traditions.
The song berates immigrants for expecting Quebec to bend over backwards and accommodate their differences, and suggests that those who don't like it should hitch a ride to the airport.
The song was posted on a site called Humour Québec.
Police launch internal investigation
The 37-year-old officer, a 15-year veteran of the police force, will appear in front of a Montreal police disciplinary committee Monday, amid protests from his union.
There's no reason to discipline the officer, who has a clean track record and maintains good relations with his colleagues, said Yves Francoeur, president of the Montreal Police Brotherhood.
The force intends to pursue the enquiry until it establishes the officer's real motive, said spokesman Yan Lafrenière Sunday.
"For us, it's a main preoccupation, to see what the intention of the officer [was], why he did that, and was it his own opinion, or was it a song, by itself," he said. "Is it because of a possible root of intolerance? It is important for us to find that out."
Lafrenière insisted the song does not represent values upheld by Montreal police.
But that kind of message is still damaging, according to Fo Niemi, co-founder of the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations.
Fo Niemi, co-founder of the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations, worries about the effects of the lyrics.
"The effect of this kind of lyric is to legitimize this kind of xenophobic remark, and eventually it's going to be used by many other people to tell immigrants if they don't like it here, they should go back to where they came from," he said.
'Code of conduct' debate
The song appeared on the internet as the debate on "reasonable accommodation" was snowballing across Quebec. On Saturday, a small town near Shawinigan, in the Mauricie region, made headlines after its city council drafted and approved a "code of conduct" outlining appropriate behaviour for all residents, including new immigrants.
The code of conduct in Hérouxville declares women have the right to drive a car, sign a cheque and dance, and should uncover their faces if they teach in schools.
The guidelines were a response to what town leaders deem "excessive" accommodation to other religious beliefs, said Hérouxville municipal Coun. André Drouin.
Muslim groups have repudiated the code of conduct, calling it divisive.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest said Monday the code does reflect a more generalized feeling of anxiety among Quebecers, but he doesn't anticipate other towns to follow suit.
"I can't see how the situation in Hérouxville will have any repercussions elsewhere. I don't expect other municipalities to pursue this line of action," he said Monday.