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Identity Crisis

December 7, 2007
identity-clouds.jpgOn Catholic Focus this Saturday we address our cultural identity crisis. If you’re not aware we had one, you’re likely not from Quebec, where the Bouchard-Taylor commission is wrestling with the conflicting claims of nationalism, secularism and freedom of religion. Though these tensions are drawing the most attention in Quebec, they underlie issues in English Canada as well, most notably the debates over sharia law, faith-based schools and black-focused schools.
Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson recently compared Quebec and Ontario’s handling of “reasonable accommodation” issues:
Both provinces face variations on this “identity” challenge, but Ontario does it in an anglo/common law way, while Quebec does it in a Cartesian/civil law fashion.
... [In Ontario] there’s never a full airing of the fundamental issues, except indirectly, as if Ontarians are afraid of what they would discover about themselves.
... By contast, the Quebec government, preferring existential debates (or at least not knowing how to prevent them), created a two-person commission to define “reasonable accommodation.” ... It is very French. Not wrong; in fact, rather inspired. Just French.
So while reasonable accommodation affects all Canada, Catholic Focus will tackle the issue in a very direct, uncomfortable, Quebecois fashion. Our guests include outspoken McGill professor Douglas Farrow, former Supreme Court judge Charles Gonthier and the Canadian Civil Rights League’s Joanne McGarry. “Reasonable Accommodation” airs on Salt + Light this Saturday at 7 & 11pm ET.