Rencontre ‘dialogique’ / ‘Dialogic’ session with Gerard Bouchard

s’il vous plaît, faites vos commentaires sur le discussion avec Gerard Bouchard ci-dessous

Please write your reflections on the discussion with the Gerard Bouchard below.

Photo credit Ms.Tucker

10 Responses to Rencontre ‘dialogique’ / ‘Dialogic’ session with Gerard Bouchard

  1. james oscar says:

    “We must not only be equal under the law, we must also be able to be ourselves as the authors of the laws that bind us.” Kwame Appiah in Multiculturalism edited by Charles Taylor& Amy Guttmann

    A common political culture is only possible when the profile of the Same is challenged and the silhouette of the Other is seen more than just in its outlines.

    The Same is like twin mannequin dressed impeccably and facing each other staring dead as they are , reflecting each other, and all coming back in smooth regimented circles.

    The Circle of the Same & Accommodation -Towards an Ethic Of Crossculturality : Brief Notes on the Bouchard Taylor Report, Accommodation, & Contemporary Quebecois Reaity

    We are calling the very substance of our democracies into question and what the relationship between “so called” democracies and rights, would not the very fabric of how we deliver and speak and of “diversity”, ” culture”, and “identity” be also to be called into question. Not just the language but the position from which it is presented/ represented.

    Where are we speaking from? Who is speaking? Who “has been permitted to” not just speak but enter into the analytical aspects of this debate. Should those concerned, let us say those whose presence in Quebec evokes the fear of the majority, the minority be just asked the “bargain basement” questions about “how do you feel”, “what has been your experience”. And then also, should the tales and interjections of the majority- “the pure laine Quebecois” just be a continuous barrage of anecdotes of their intractability, inveterate attitude, and immutability in the face of a larger immigration “threatening their existence”.
    What can come out of analysis which is continuously in the vein of the victimized immigrant and the “overlord” majority populations.

    There are deeper machinations at work, something deeper that needs to be addressed and discussed. For one, it is becoming more and more obvious that the effects of years of a rupture of civil society, in the pulling and tugging of nationalism, sovereignty/ separation, national fidelity, affinity, non affinities, has caused a stain at the heart of Quebecois civil society in general: divorce rates, domestic situations, civil dialogue at standstill, unhinged corruption between organized crime and government, unchecked violence by criminal elements- a literal disrespect for the state, a qualified/ overeducated generation being pushed to a precarious life, the nervousness of the majority that Bouchard and Taylor have cited.Critiques of the such have been coming to the fore in such novel films by the director Xavier Dolan and viscerally in popular Nuit #1 by Anne Emond. Nuit # 1 has a sterling critique of the circle of the same and the un dynamic nature of a majority population living in fear and not leaving the circle of the same. The Bouchard taylor export is key for having showed the fear inherent in Quebecois focus groups of Others.

    The point of these comments is to point to a discussion of the majority and their own “fear” of the Other. But what is the from, where, how of the discussion continuing to take place, even in and after the acute and brilliant analyses that come out of the Bouchard Taylor report.

    I think the language of the philosopher Emanuel Levinas might come in hand in looking at this, when he talks about the Same and the Other.

    The Same [the majority] in this sense is a standard that is put up, types, particular scripts so. thus if the state does not challenge those emanations and deployments that are current, put out there by corporations – stereotypes, often propagated visions of particular people, how can the state then speak about human rights when those rights from the get go have been imbalanced and some not defended against the assault.

    So does that mean that the state, if its promise if to be kept, must for instance not make legal limits on how much we see Patrick Huard, Roy Dupuis proliferation of being cast as the universal man.

    The Same is like twin mannequin dressed impeccably and facing each other staring dead as they are , reflecting each other, and all coming back in smooth regimented circles. The Same is self censure, self legitimation.
    The twin mannequins turning at the same time and looking away at the same time at an object and right after turning back to look each other as/in the dead stare they had started with and will that stare be for time immemorial.

    The Same looks at another but not into the other and hence The Same remains the same. And here is the problem, its crux.
    Slow consideration of these prerogative shows a circle, from the Same to the Other, and back to the Same.

    This I might begin to refer to as the circle of the Same. The is what exists in contemporary Quebec. It is not just the minority who “suffer” from this but the majority equally suffers from this vicious, undynamic circle.

    Self legitimation is a past participle in today’s world!The philosopher Slavoj Zizek has made this clear in talking about how “the system has lost its self evidence, its automatic legitimacy”.

    MUTUAL RESPECT FOR ANOTHER’s RIGHTS if the same is still the current and not just the current even if the numbers may allow it / one group to live and breathe AS/IN THE SAME, how can this group in the foreground be taught the necessary loss of self (regenerating ) legitimation that is necessary in any equal discussion among peers

  2. Hélène Boudier says:

    Les causeries dialogiques sont toujours une bonne occasion pour chacun de réfléchir sur des thèmes très variés. Je remercie Dr Norman F. Cornett d’avoir organisé une discussion avec Dr Gérard Bouchard.

    Actuellement, nous sommes dans l’après Commission Bouchard-Taylor (B.T) qui a eu lieu en 2007/ 2008. La Commisison B.T a fait son travail dans un contexte précis et à un moment donné, en apportant ses conclusions. Si la commission a été créée dans l’urgence pour « éteindre le torchon qui brûlait», il reste que les solutions proposées sont contestées et qu’elle n’a pas épuisé toutes les interrogations qui ressurgissent, par exemple, dans la mise en application (comme lors des auditions pour le projet de Loi 94).

    En effet, le débat reste ouvert, bien vivant dans la société et les médias québécois ainsi que canadien que ce soit pour la laïcité ouverte ou laïcité, accommodements raisonnables ou autres modes d’intervention juridique, législatif ou de politique publique, etc.
    Le moindre que l’on puisse dire est qu’il n’y a pas de consensus!!!

  3. Louis-Philippe says:

    Similairement à Phélanie, j’aimerais souligner l’initiative du Professeur Norman Cornett d’organiser de tels conférences “dialogiques”.
    L’un des thèmes que j’ai particulièrement apprécier est celui qui se rapportait au droit, et surtout, l’importance de différentier le droit dit “universelle” et le droit que l’on pourrait appeler “pluraliste”. D’après moi, ce dernier type de droit nous éclaire de plus en plus un des multiples chemins que nous pourrions emprunter pour se diriger vers une société plus démocratique et multiculturelle (lire, société composée de plusieurs ethnies).

    Comme “journaliste” avec le Délit français de l’Université McGill, j’ai aussi grandement apprécié la chance d’avoir pu donner une entrevue à Mr. Bouchard, à la suite de la conférence. Donc pour conclure, je voudrais remercier Mr. Gérard Bouchard et Mr. Norman Cornett pour nous avoir offert cette excellente conférence. Pour ceux ne connaissant pas les conférences dialogiques de Mr. Cornett, je vous encourage fortement de participer à au moins une; pourvoir débattre dans un forum publique, pouvoir poser des questions concrètes à différents experts, ainsi que d’élargir ces horizons, sont tous des raisons pour y participer.

  4. Miruna Tarcau says:

    Thursday’s meeting certainly made me reflect upon the question of “accomodements raisonnables”, but since my reflections have taken somewhat of a more philosophical turn, I would like to comment upon the issues raised during the encounter with Dr. Bouchard from the opposite point of view by which he explained the evolution of legislation; namely, that it needed to move from its pretension to universalism, towards a gradual realization that the real world is made of particular cases, to which legislators must adapt their own definition of truth according to the values promoted within their own culture. The question which I had raised prior to this discussion was related to an issue inherent to the conception of multiculturalism, or rather, to the cultural relativism by which we are trained to recognize that beneath an apparent universality accepted within our own culture, lies an arbitrary set of values which other cultures do not share –and therefore, that we must learn to recognize that multiplicity is the general rule when it comes to mankind, not universality.
    The question of defining one’s own cultural identity is certainly complex, particularly in today’s context, when it is very likely that individuals did not grow up where they were born, nor live in the country where they “come from”, and therefore, do not feel like they entirely belong to the society in which they work and function as citizens belonging to a minority group. This feeling is very familiar to me. I was born in Romania; when I was two years old, my family immigrated in Québec, and I was then educated in a French school in Montreal. But how, I ask you, do people inherit the values of a particular culture, and how is a cultural identity generally passed down from one generation to the other? Through language, education, and the place where you live. This would mean that I am Romanian by birth, Canadian through citizenship, Québécoise in terms of life experience, and French by education. What does this mean exactly? Did I simply accumulate the values of each cultural group in order to build a kind of special cultural identity reconciling the specificities of each culture? Whenever people hear my name here, they always ask me where I come from to settle the issue of my origins as soon as they meet me, as if they could not understand my opinions, my ideas and my character without situating them geographically and explaining them according to a particular context. Oh, you are Romanian? Then you must have this set of values.
    While there is certainly a link between the cultural identity of an individual and his or her personality, I think that cultural identity becomes problematic when there is virtually no distinction between the one and the other ; or, in other words, when a certain set of values, certain customs and certain behaviours belonging to one’s cultural traditions have been absorbed by an individual in such a way that it has replaced certain crucial aspects of his or her personality during the early development of their own identity. It should come as no surprise that many people assert that they do not feel coerced to adopt certain behaviours pertaining to their cultural group, even though certain practices may “seem” like they limit their freedom. You only think that it limits my freedom because you do not belong to my cultural identity, and therefore, you hold a different set of values than me. “You cannot understand.” Multiplicity is very easy to see: as soon as a toddler learns how to talk, he can immediately see the difference between Black and White, and comment upon it; but it takes more than immediate perceptions to understand the unity behind the apparent multiplicity reflected by external appearance, customs or traditions. For instance, for women, there is nothing strictly “Muslim” about the practice of covering one’s hair or one’s face in public: married women used to do it in Ancient Rome, as peasants’ wives still do in the countryside in Romania, as in many other countries. It is not, strictly saying, a cultural practice: rather, it is a universal practice in social contexts where individuals must adopt very specific attitudes towards honour, privacy, family and traditions, in order to be respected by their peers and especially by their parents. Traditions are inherited from generation to generation for centuries –and along the way, there is very little room for creativity, particularly for individual creativity, without which it is impossible to form one’s personality. Of course, one can very well choose to embrace one’s own cultural practices within the development of their personality –but what does this mean, exactly? Cultural practices have a history, and since cultures themselves are created within the context of intellectual exchange, migrations, wars, conquests, commerce, and countless other means by which the specificities of a cultural group is formed through the very contact of “foreigners”, then, to fall in love with one’s cultural practices, land and religion implies more broadly to have a vivid interest for History –that is, universal History. By following chronologically the countless threads spun in all directions by religion, for instance, one touches upon philosophical and ontological questions pertaining to all faiths, to all lands, to all countries.
    And yet, it also happens that one may fall in love with something specific to a certain place, or rather should I say, to a certain place in a certain time –for everything is always in motion, and present-day Québec, for instance, has very little to do with the Nouvelle-France. In my case, I cannot say that I have fallen in love with a particular period of Canadian, French or Romanian history, including that of the 21st century in which we live. However, in my early teenage years, I have fallen in love with Ancient Greece –and more specifically with the 5th century B.C–, to the point that I can say that the culture of Ancient Greece has truly helped me shape my personality. The same happened with Renaissance Florence, (the 14th and the 15th centuries, more specifically) when I spent a month in Italy two years ago. But these cultures have helped me shape my personality in a very different way than the Romanian, or the French cultures for instance; and I do not feel the same way towards a Greek or an Italian than I do towards a a Montrealer, for instance. When I come across someone from Montreal unexpectedly in a foreign country, I am delighted to see someone I share something in common with, and I will feel closer to that person than I would feel towards a Greek or an Italian, with whom I share nothing, strictly speaking. That is because I am aware that there is a very clear distinction between “culture” and what I call society. While the former is very historically grounded and is maintained consciously or unconsciously by individuals who accept the influence it exerts upon them; the latter is continuously shaped by the people who live within in the present moment. Both the culture and the society should be in constant motion; but problems arise when one decides that the other should remain in a fixed state, and for me, the “accomodements raisonnables” reflect this will to allow inherited customs and practices to become undistinguishable from people’s individuality, personality, and creativity. If it is true that creativity can only be expressed culturally, we must keep in mind that cultures are themselves the product of the creativity of the people who lived before us, who in turn modified the practices of their own ancestors or adopted the practices of another culture, and so on and so forth. Tragedies happen when we fail to reconcile the Same and the Other, the one and the many. Is multiculturalism the softer alternative to a Greek tragedy? Or is there a way to rehabilitate universality within our country’s legislation?

  5. Phélanie says:

    Les accomodements raisonnables, c’est loin d’être un sujet facile à traiter. Je crois que M. Bouchard nous a en quelque sorte montré le comportement que l’on devrait adopter envers les autres communautés ou cultures présentes au Québec, soit: l’écoute, l’ouverture et le désir d’en arriver à des accords communs. Je crois aussi qu’il aurait été bien, avant d’ouvrir les portes à l’immigration, de se pencher collectivement sur la question (sous forme de débats, référendum, etc.). À savoir par exemple: les buts recherchés par l’immigration? Qui est admissible ( accepte-t-on des réfugiés politiques)? quelles religions sont admissibles? etc… Ensuite, ayant défini le mieux possible les personnes admissibles, il aurait été pertinent de définir un code d’éthiques pour ces nouveaux immigrants (comportements jugés acceptables et non acceptables). La CBT met simplement en évidence ces questionnements en lien avec l’immigration, qui auraient dûs être fait bien avant!!

  6. Martyn Bryant says:

    Gerard Bouchard’s responses yesterday highlighted the complexity of the issue of reasonable accommodation. The degrees of nuance and subtlety involved are enough to put anyone off making any firm opinions about the issues. The enactment of laws could provide more damage and sectarianism than we currently have – here we get into the role of government and political philosophy. In the end Gerard Bouchard has his academic observer’s hat on as he suggested that we can only wait and see what happens – I just hope this isn’t fatalistic and disempowering for people trying to battle with their own contradictory thoughts. His articulation of the historical grounding of rights and freedoms was first rate and it should suggest to us that social reform can be better understood in terms of understanding our past – that gets us back to education and I’m not sure that there is any culture that has got that right. What I’m wondering now is that we might fall into the trap, with our typical lack of imagination, in thinking that secularism is a pure and just ideology. Could it be simply another device, another front, another religion, for pitching nations against nations?

  7. Nom de plume says:

    The session was a bit eye-opening for me, and I was quite shocked by some of the views that were expressed from the floor.

    There are two sides to every story. Understanding both sides of an issue before passing judgment is critical if the end result is to be lasting and amenable to both parties. I felt this was a point Mr. Bouchard articulated exceptionally well. I believe his work in reasonable accommodation is very important in our modern and progressive world. Everyone has a right to be and to express who he or she is, provided they treat others with the respect and dignity we Canadians – Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and non-believers alike – all enjoy.

  8. Robert Verrall says:

    Dear Dr Cornett, You desrve thanks for organizing the discussion with Gerard Bouchard. However, I was dissapointed in some of what he had to say, and suggest that he possibly caused some frusration in a few who were present. It seems to me he put himself too high above the fray, and by the fray I mean the legitimate concerns people have about the presence, and influence, of Radical Islam, even in Canada. For instance,the destrution of the Twin Towers, the bombing and slaughter in London’s Subway, the bombing of a crowded Spanish commuter train, the torching of Danish Embassies throughout the Middle East because of a few cartoons, the current trial in Kingston of those alleged to be guilty of “Honour Killings, the need for police protection of a young Canadian Muslim who received death threats because she wrote a best selling book, “THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAM TODAY”, which dared to suggest the Koran was being wrongly interpreted, if not corrupted, suggest a current reality which was not part of his conversation. When Gerard Bouchard expressed contempt for the Mayor of Herouville I was surprised and disheartened, and then learned he had not seen the excellent film, “LIBERTY, EQUALITY AND ACCOMODATION” by Stefan Nitroslawski, which you screened at St.James last Sunday with the director present. Had he seen this film, I think the conversation would have been more interesting, and more removed from the envirinment of an Ivory Tower.

    Yours truly, Robert Verrall

  9. Nadia Alexan says:

    Dear fellow Citizens:
    I appreciate the opportunity for dialogue and debate. However, I would have liked to see another speaker, who does not share the opinions of Gerard Bouchard, debate these ideas also. There was a lot of media criticism of the Boiuchard/Taylor report when it was first published. It seems that the Commissioners went in with one idea and came out with that same idea, even after hearing the outrage and outcry of the public, against gratuitous accommodations. All citizens should be treated equally. No particular religion should be favoured with any accommodations. Right now, the radical Islamists want to bring in obligatory prayers, five times a day, into Ontario’s public schools. It is preposterous since we got rid of Christian prayers in schools, half a century ago. Do students have time to learn their basic facts, or pray instead? I have seen little girls, as young as four years old, dressed in a black “hijaab.” Above all, our most cherished principle of equality between men and women is threatened by an obscure and backward religion, which believes in the supremacy of men and advocating the lapidation of women. Let’s call a spade a spade.

  10. Dear Prof. Cornett,
    Thank you so much for organizing such a great lecture with Prof. Gérard Bouchard. I really enjoyed the format it was conducted (dialogic session). I hope to attend more events like this in the near future. Thanks again.

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