Canada: Quebec's diversity is different, Taylor says

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun May 25 00:51:58 UTC 2008

Quebec's diversity is different, Taylor says
    *JEFF HEINRICH* The Gazette
Friday, May 23, 2008

 Quebec interculturalism. Canadian multiculturalism. Shall the twain ever

No, the policies are fundamentally different, and the rules are different in
Quebec, Charles Taylor says.

"It's a different society," Taylor, the eminent Montreal philosopher who
co-chaired Quebec's reasonable-accommodation commission, told reporters

"The two (policies) aren't that far apart, although sometimes you hear
absurd things in Quebec about how utterly different they are," he said.

"No, they're really very close policies. But here, we're a société
d'acceuil, a society that's receiving, a society which itself is under
pressure, which has to take certain measures to maintain a certain
historical line on the (French) language, and so on.

"That doesn't exist at all in the rest of Canada."

He added: "Multiculturalism is an excellent policy, but it has to be applied
in each society in a way that fits. And that's what fits us (in English

So how does Quebec interculturalism differ?

"The reason why people use the prefix 'inter-' as against 'multi-' is that
they want to accentuate the exchanges between different cultural groups ...
(using) the French language, within which we all exchange," Taylor replied.

"It's a set of policy goals, essential in this society, that has no
relevance in Toronto or Vancouver. And that's why it's a different policy."

Speaking in English, co-chairman Gérard Bouchard added:

"A minority culture like Quebec is naturally more concerned with integration
and more fearful of fragmentation. So in interculturalism you have this
focus on interaction and integration."

In the English-language summary of their report, the commissioners write
that interculturalism "has never been fully, officially defined by the
Quebec government, although its key components were formulated long ago," in
the 1970s under the Parti Québécois government of then-premier René

"This shortcoming should be overcome," they write, recommending that the
government "adopt an official text such as a statute, a policy statement or
a declaration that broadly defines interculturalism."

jheinrich at
(c) The Gazette (Montreal) 2008
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