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(en) Canada, "reasonable accommodation": Statement by No One Is Illegal-Montreal* (November 12, 2007)

Date Mon, 12 Nov 2007 22:22:15 +0200

The No One Is Illegal-Montreal collective is publishing and distributing the following statement in opposition to the racist "reasonable accommodation" debate in Quebec, and the related Bouchard-Taylor Commission. We encourage groups and individuals who agree with this statement to endorse it by contacting
noii-montreal@resist.ca. We also encourage allies who would like to help organize against the hearings, or support the organizing of No One Is Illegal, to get in touch as well. ------ The "reasonable accommodation" debate in Quebec, and the related "Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences" (the so-called "Bouchard-Taylor Commission"), are fundamentally rooted in xenophobia, racism and sexism.

From the outset, the "debate" fails to recognize that Quebec and
Canada are built on stolen Indigenous land, and constituted through
the dispossession and genocide of Indigenous peoples who have been
forced into "accommodating" colonization. Moreover, it completely
ignores the fact that racism and white supremacy were intrinsically
tied to the creation of both Canada and Quebec, and throughout their
histories, have been instrumental in defining who "belongs" and who
does not.

The Bouchard-Taylor Commission was created in the context of
xenophobia during an election campaign and has provided an uncontested
platform for racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

Opportunistic politicians and corporate media have appealed to public
fears and prejudices, and manipulated false controversies over
religious practices and cultural differences to create a generalized
hysteria, with little to no basis in fact. In its very framework it
creates a binary of 'us' vs. 'them'; the 'us' being made up of white
people of European descent, and the 'them' being whichever non-white
immigrant group is currently under the spotlight.

The supposed "debate" has made open bigotry publicly acceptable, using
simplistic caricatures that render our communities homogenous,
uncontested and monolithic. While we reject this offensive portrayal
of our communities, we assert the diversity of our cultures and
traditions as well as our multiple identities.

Insidiously, so-called progressives and feminists have used the
Commission platform to promote their own sophisticated brand of
racism, one that refuses to acknowledge the oppressions within Western
society, and unquestioningly considers Quebec to be "pluralistic,
democratic and egalitarian".

While using rhetoric rooted in Islamophobia and sexism to justify war
abroad, as is the case in the on-going military occupation of
Afghanistan, Quebec has embraced the framework around the "rights of
women" and the systematic dehumanization of Muslim cultures to justify
intolerance chez nous. We reject the notion that women of faith need
to be saved from their inherently oppressive and backward cultures,
and instead we support the women who are on the frontlines of their
own struggles for liberation, and subjects, not objects or victims, of
their own transformation.

As the Bouchard-Taylor Commission begins its public hearings in
Montreal, we are organizing to openly and publicly reject the
commission process and framework. To engage the Commission process is
to validate its fundamentally racist premise, which is to stand
judgment of immigrant communities. This Commission, sanctioned by the
state, is a process of submission, whereby minority populations are
forced to justify their very existence in Quebec. The way this debate
is framed ignores all the current intolerance and injustice faced by
many migrant communities in Quebec, while forcing them to defend
themselves as "good Quebecois".

We declare: Ni patrie, ni état; ni Québec, ni Canada! We refuse to
submit to any form of nationalism.

Instead, we organize by uncompromisingly putting forward a vision of
social justice, rooted in day-to-day grassroots struggles. We
acknowledge and support the self-determination and sovereignty of
Indigenous peoples all over the Americas -- struggles that have once
again been rendered invisible in the skewed "reasonable accommodation"

We organize actively against poverty, precarity, racial profiling,
police brutality, war, capitalism and gender oppression. We organize
against borders, for free movement and status for all. We actively
fight against state oppression and violence targeted at the most
marginalized, while struggling against all forms of oppression,
whatever their source.

In contrast to the faulty framework of "reasonable accommodation", we
assert "solidarity across borders", in the spirit of mutual aid and

We call for a collective rejection of the entire Commission. The
process of genuine dialogue and debate, and real pluralism, comes from
our shared struggles against all forms of oppression. The "reasonable
accommodation" debate has clouded and confused the unity and
solidarity we share -- as workers, poor, women, queer and trans
people, migrants, and others -- fighting together to achieve real

We re-assert those struggles, by refusing the fundamentally racist and
sexist premises of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, and by refusing to
be submissive or fearful as we continue to practice self-determination
and strive for collective liberation.

-- No One Is Illegal-Montreal (November 2007)
noii-montreal@resist.ca -- 514-848-7583
* An antiauthoritarian anticapitalist initiative network
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