Friday, April 16, 2010

Hérouxville spreads to rest of Canada

Herouxville, a small Quebec village, just north east of Montreal was virtually unknown to many Canadians and the world a scant three years ago.

Herouxville with a population of 1,200 people is not unlike many of the small quaint farming communities which dot the Canadian landscape.

The landscape and culture which Herouxville hold dear was interrupted when Herouxville became worldwide news in 2007, when the townspeople watching the world around them change, and not for the better, decided they wish to maintain their own little piece of god's green earth.

The townspeople spoke and the town's councilor Andre Drouin listened, a rarity amongst most politicians. Herouxville decided to implement a code of conduct in their town charter.

Now as town charter's, bylaws, rule of norms go, every town, city and society have them, these charters are implemented by the people for the people for their elected representatives to draft and put into law.

Granted some bylaws and charters may go against the grain of other citizens outside Herouxville town boundaries, but the town charter must be respected.

Tofino, British Columbia, West Vancouver to name a few drafted a bylaw forbidding large commercial coffee and food chains from entering their towns, much to the dismay of the coffee culture seen everyday in downtown Vancouver, where one would be hard pressed not to see a pedestrian walking around with an ever present cardboard Starbucks cup in hand or a McDonald's bag.

Big box store protests, building height restrictions, a thorn with many Vancouver's citizen is another, by those who do not wish to change their landscape or block their sea or mountain views, thus changing their neighbourhood charm.

Not to mention those who want no part of replicating US cities and their thirst for culture of consumerism.

Herouxville wishes the same in some respects, though culturally speaking were adamant at keeping cultures whose practices and norms were not in keeping with the town's values.

Once Herouxville made it known that cultures whose past, present and future barbaric practices such as honour killings, niqabs, sharia law, kirpans or it's harsh treatment of fellow human beings, such as stoning women, or religious mantras which claim religions not in keeping with theirs are to be considered infidels are not welcome in their community.

Now Canadians abhor violence against women, children and men, we are a generous nation when it comes to immigrants. It is a given, cultural or religious inspired violence against people in Canada is rare and seldom practiced, with laws in this country to mete out harsh punishments for such actions. So why implement a Town Charter forbidding such acts, if our laws already state it is illegal and not in keeping with Canada's culture?

Well if truth be known, contrary to our laws, it goes on with some cultural groups in other parts of the world and yes, even in Canada.

Notwithstanding, worldwide media, public and politicians jumped on the Herouxville story once town councilor Andre Drouin let the townspeople's wishes be known to the world.

Accusations of racism, bumpkins, Not in my Canada and other diatribes soon found Herouxville front and centre in the world news.

Canadian Politicians postulated, Commissions, commissioned reports on Reasonable Accommodation, armchair pundits, punditted, national polls, polled, immigration groups screamed from the rooftops and religious and cultural groups theorized what this meant for them, while some Canadians ranted pro and con on the Trudeau inspired Multiculturalism and Diversity, the Canadian charter of rights etc.

It seems everyone had something to say, with the majority not listening to Herouxville's side, leading many Canadian's to take media reports, rumour and innuendo at face value, such as this story featured in the Montreal Gazette, which seemed to only make the Montreal Gazette and no other Canadian media. Funny how media work, when it comes to bias.

Many accuse Herouxville of painting all people of certain cultures and religious ideologies with the same brush, much like racial or cultural profiling. Herouxville has never made such a claim, repeating all are welcome in Herouxville, but media rarely report this, preferring to let Herouxville stand as the Rednecks of Canada.

Even though many reviled Herouxville, the response by most Canadians and other countries around the world embraced Herouxvilles ideology, with some countries implementing it and other countries wishing they had in the first place as it may be too late for them.

Events in Canada and some countries like Denmark have experienced first hand cultures or religious ideologies who take matters in their own hands rather than let the law of the land which these cultures made their home take precedence.

One incident comes to mind, when Surrey Mayor Diane Watts received threats of bodily harm when she found out to her dismay that a cultural festival had terrorist elements featured in a event and let it be known she wished this to cease in her town. When events like this make the headlines and other events in the world, can one blame Herouxville for not wanting this and other like events in their town?

Granted, the likelyhood of this happening in Herouxville is small, but then how many other towns, cities the world over thought the same thing, only for these events to take place in their town. Certainly a reason for pause.

The issue of painting a town, it's people or culture with the same brush is not just directed at Herouxville. Liberal politician Hedy Fry representing Vancouver centre made international news, when she was the Liberal Federal Minister of State for Multiculturalism in 2001, when her chicken little screams of racism and mass cross burnings in Prince George came to the utter surprise of everyone in Prince George, BC who wondering what the hell she was talking about?

Ms. Fry's outburst in the House of Common also surprised members of parliament from Prince George.

It seems Hedy Fry, a doctor by previous profession, apparently intelligent was sadly misinformed and did not get all the facts before her knee jerk reaction, thus painting the citizens of Prince George with one brush as a Stars and Bars state of white hooded sheet wearing KKK members.

Ms. Fry, later apologised, eating crow, but the damage was done, much like the misinformed who feel the same way about Herouxville.

So perhaps Canadians should get all the facts first before firing the slings and arrows of racism at a small community when Canadian polls shows across the board that perhaps Herouxville is onto something.

In 2009 the Canadian federal government implemented a code of conduct for new immigrants to Canada, inspired by Herouxville, but demanded by the majority of Canadians.

Currently the issue of banning the burka or niqab is being considered in Canada and Quebec may be the first province to take a stand, other provinces will surely follow once politicians take a look and see attitude how it works out in Quebec.

The issue of the mandarin language in some Vancouver schools has many in Vancouver up in arms.

Vancouver school board trustees are considering the Mandarin language to be introduced in the school curriculum. Now with Canada's two official languages being English and French, this leaves some to wonder with school budget cuts already underway in other programs, why not put french language classes instead?

Schools in the lower mainland have long waiting lists around the block of eager parents looking to enroll their children into french language classes. So does it make any sense for taxpayers to foot the bill for a class too few may take considering there is more of a demand for French and English classes.

It makes one wonder who is being favoured or coerced into providing Mandarin language classes, political or financial?

One can be certain, this may be just one example where perhaps cultures contrary to Canada's two official languages are not being met, and certainly if this were tried in any other province it would not fly, especially in La Belle Province.

As for Andre Drouin, perhaps revenge is a dish served cold, as his validation of speaking for Canada for all Canadians seems to be coming to fruition with the majority of us, as Provinces wait and see first before being proactive.

Quebec always the bride, with the other provinces as the eternal bridesmaids.

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