No war but class war

Most of the coverage of the Bouchard-Taylor hearings and the rest of reasonable accomodations crisis in Quebec painted the whole affair as opposing old-stock Quebecers and new arrivals to the province. Indeed, Bouchard and Taylor appear to have spent most of their energy addressing that very dichotomy in their report (leaked versions of which The Gazette has helpfully put up here, here and here).

But one of the subplots that didn’t get as much attention-and may in fact be just as compelling-is the undercurrent of tension between old-stock Quebecers themselves when it comes to immigration. Here’s how Bouchard and Taylor describe it:

Political types are accused of not having done their homework during the accommodation crisis, judges are lambasted for not having taken into account the expectations of “the base” and rendering verdicts that are contrary to social values, the media is viewed with suspicion, school and other public administrators are criticized for their softness in treating requests for adjustments, intellectuals (“disconnected,” in their “ivory tower on the Plateau”) are fingered for having “sold out” the culture of the majority group and their indifference to its history, its heritage and everything that makes up its identity.

I’m not sure the tension is any worse now than it’s ever been. After all, there’s a whole segment of pop culture dedicated to calling people lazy, from Robert Charlebois’s “Entre deux joints” (above) to Les Cowboys Fringants’s “En berne“. But I suspect telling people to breathe through the nose, learn English and be nice to immigrants won’t do much to dissipate it.

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