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Bouchard-Taylor Commission: Minutes

Hi folks,

It's been a hectic couple of weeks, but I figured that at least a few of you would be interested in knowing of what went on during the Bouchard-Taylor Commission when I happened to attend. And so, I've typed-up this brief break-down of what I recall from my own little perspective:

i) An English-language survey was given-out in the hall outside of the conference room, in which participants were asked which two of the listed issues concerned them most. The concerns ranged from "racism", to "the integration of immigrants", to "protecting the culture of Quebec."

ii) Preluding the Forum, there was Mr. Taylor's formal explanation of what "Reasonable Accomodation" is: namely, a legal term to describe the granting of, on moral grounds, legal leeway to particular individuals or groups in particular instances whom may be in technical contravention of a law.

iii) Invitees of the citizens forum were invited to speak for up to two minutes, with speakers chosen more or less at random.

iv) The Commission meeting was swarmed by at least two different groups who pulled shenanigans in order to monopolize as much time as possible -- essentially one member would repeat or expand upon whatever speech a previous member had started after using-up their two minutes.

The first was a group of very long-winded feminists who were (quite literally) all reading off the same, prepared page. With nine points. And footnotes. Their contribution to the debate was to denounce the Commission for being headed by white men over the age of 65. They did this for a long time.

The second swarm was provided courtesy of one of Quebec's newest Jeune Patriotes groups ("Defendeurs de la langue francaise" or somesuch?) who showed up at the region's only English-language forum to denounce the fact that the government and the Commission deigned to lower itself to speaking to the privileged English-speaking elite. They also denounced Mr. Taylor for being a de facto member of elite conspiracy by virtue of speaking English. They did this for a long time.

v) There was the usual, off-topic denunciation of Zionism.

vi) There was the usual denunciation of "Islamists"

vii) There were several representatives from Montreal-area churches (Anglican, Catholic, etcetera) who pointed-out that they were perfectly happy working in multiple languages, with parishioners from diverse backgrounds, and *they* weren't having any trouble...

viii) There was a great outpouring of Anglo-skittishness as speaker after speaker denounced the Commission for being a forum where people would actually speak their minds. Most advised sticking one's head back in the sands and thinking only of pandas and rainbows.

ix) Someone suggested that Syria had a better track-record for religious accomodation than Quebec, given that *they* at least recognized Jewish and Christian holidays in their legal code.

x) An (unofficial?) representative from the Kanawake Mohawk community to the time to denounce the commission, the Quebec government, and the hypocrisy of the two million or so immigrants squatting, rent-free, on Mohawk land on the Island of Montreal.

xi) Someone else expressed concern that the Quebec gov't had explicitly excluded any discussion of First Nations issues by the Commission.

xii) The meeting ended, and many people were annoyed that they hadn't had the opportunity to speak. One fellow purportedly representing Quebec Solidarité rushed the front of the room and started railing in French (not wanting to appear to be a member of a privileged, bilingual elite, 'natch.) and demanded that everyone listen to his Very Important Ten-Page Speech. I suspect that it had something to do with Anglos, money, and the ethnic vote, but, alas we'll never know -- he was chased out of the room by five plain-clothes security guards with necks thicker than my thigh.

xiii) Mr. Bouchard read the informal results of the night's survey.

xiX) Mr. Taylor thanked everyone for their time, and went off-script to explain why the Commission wasn't touching First Nations issues: Because, to paraphrase his words, "As a Commission legitamized solely by the gov't of the Province of Quebec, we have no business speaking or acting on behalf of the First Nations. We believe that any business concerning the First Nations and Quebec should only be addressed as a partnership *between nations*, and that Quebec has not the right to act on Native issues without their explicit consent." [emphasis added]


Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to speak, but I plan to submit a brief to the Commission sometime soon, for what it's worth.

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