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Religion, Culture, and the State

Religion, Culture, and the State: Reflections on the Bouchard-Taylor Report

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Religion, Culture, and the State
    Book Description:

    Religion, Culture, and the Stateaddresses reasonable accommodation from legal, political, and anthropological perspectives, with the contributors using the 2008 Bouchard-Taylor Report as their point of departure to contextualize the English and French Canadian experiences of multiculturalism and diversity.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9441-5
    Subjects: Religion, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-15)

    The objective of this book is to explore the issue of religious pluralism in Canadian society, particularly in Québec, as it has emerged in the last decade.¹ Canada has a strong reputation around the world for its tolerance of diversity and its multicultural policies as they apply to recently arrived immigrant communities. At various levels of government, several legal instruments have been put in place to protect the rights of linguistic minorities and the basic freedoms of individuals. Nonetheless, new challenges have arisen in our society that touch upon the public display of religious symbols and the need to accommodate...

  5. 1 Reasonable Accommodation in the Canadian Legal Context: A Mechanism for Managing Diversity or a Source of Tension?
    (pp. 16-36)

    Many historical, legal, and cultural factors have contributed to the evolution of the Canadian identity throughout the twentieth century, not the least of which was the transition from the status of British colony to that of sovereign state within the British Commonwealth and the international community of nations. At first Canada was seen by the main English elite as simply an appendage of the Empire on the North American continent and thus dependent on London. Gradually, however, it acquired its own distinct personality thanks to events that had a significant impact on British imperialism, for example, the Boer revolt of...

  6. 2 Monoculturalism versus Interculturalism in a Multicultural World
    (pp. 37-57)

    Politicians engage in cover-ups all the time. One device is to use commissions as distractions, as a method for stalling or to push apparent change while allowing substantive changes to go unattended. Yet governments, in fact all Western countries, have difficulty dealing with individuals who cover their faces. Faces are masked to hide (by criminals) or to frighten (during Halloween). In some cultures, faces are sometimes covered during mourning to discourage social intercourse and encourage respect for the privacy of grieving. Normally, individuals want to read another person’s face as an interpretive part of a conversation. Hence, it is no...

  7. 3 The Bouchard-Taylor Commission and the Jewish Community of Québec in Historical Perspective
    (pp. 58-68)

    In the past two years, issues respecting cultural and religious diversity and its challenges have been the focus of considerable interest in Québec, as well as in the rest of Canada, due to the activities of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission. This commission, appointed by the Government of Québec to investigate the issue of ‘reasonable accommodation’ of cultural minorities in Québec society, has necessarily had an important impact on Québec society as a whole, and, not least, on its Jewish community.

    This chapter analyses the impact of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on the Jewish community of Québec, and contextualizes this impact with respect...

  8. 4 ‘Qui est nous?’ Some Answers from the Bouchard-Taylor Commission’s Archive
    (pp. 69-85)

    ‘Qui est nous?’ (literally, ‘Who is we?’) is the question that François Parenteau’s documentaryQui est nous?(first aired on Telé-Québec 21 February 2002) poses to its 11 subjects, all identified as Québecers who have come from elsewhere (other cultures), that is, who cannot claim French Canadian ancestry. The film invites them to reflect on their sense of identity and belonging in Québec, and in many ways is an emblematic precursor to the province-wide exercise in collective soul-searching that journalists Jeff Heinrich and Valérie Dufour (2008) have dubbed ‘Circus Québécus.’

    The primary focus of this chapter is the very large...

  9. 5 The B-T Report ‘Open Secularism’ Model and the Supreme Court of Canada Decisions on Freedom of Religion and Religious Accommodation
    (pp. 86-99)

    One of the key themes of the public debate that took place as part of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission in the fall of 2007 concerned ‘laïcité’ (secularismis the best, but still inadequate, available translation). Various participants asked the commissioners to propose the adoption of a principle of secularism based on the French model that would serve to set better guidelines for the practice of religious accommodation, and, in a more general way, to better define the place of religion in the social sphere. The Commission’s report does in fact take a position on this question by devoting an extensive chapter...

  10. 6 Conclusion: Religion, Culture, and the State
    (pp. 100-116)

    Newcomers should give up their cultural traditions and become more like everybody else. This was the position of a majority of Québecers polled by Léger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies¹ a year after Bouchard and Taylor released their report. Further, the trend line of anxiety about and resistance to incorporating other cultures became worse in the year after the B-T Report came out. Forty per cent of francophones viewed non-Christian immigrants as a threat to Québec society, compared with 32 per cent in 2007, while only 32 per cent of non-francophones harboured the same fears, a figure that...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 117-140)
  12. References
    (pp. 141-151)