Montreal collective No One Is Illegal tried to disrupt the Taylor-Bouchard Commission yesterday to protest against what they consider an exercise “fundamentally rooted in xenophobia, racism and sexism.”
40 years after the Quiet Revolution the preachers and curés are staging a comeback. Wearing their black bomber jacket uniforms and ceremonial Palestinian scarves, the preachers tried to disrupt a free assembly of ordinary citizens just like in the good old days of the Great Darkness.
The Bouchard-Taylor Commission is illegitimate, they say. We are all sinners on stolen land! The whiteness of our skin is the mark of the beast! No accommodation with the devil is possible! Repent! Repent!
When I was a young student activist who had it all figured out I was fighting FOR public forums where ordinary citizens could voice their concerns. Participatory democracy was the ideal we strived for. No One Is Illegal is apparently quite happy to have Stephen Harper and Jean Charest tell them what’s right for them. That’s fine, but most people in Québec seem to appreciate the opportunity to speak for themselves.
No One Is Illegal says the commissions has provided an “uncontested platform for racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism”. This is true, but in reaction to those comments the Commission has also provided an unprecedented forum for informed citizens to debunk all forms of myths and prejudice. The facts about Québec’s cultures and the opinions of the members of different communities have had unprecedented exposure in the media. That’s the first step of understanding and dialogue. It’s a good thing. It’s called free speech.
Listen my young Concordia friends. You’re not in Pickering anymore. You’re not in your suburban development by the 401 where everyone pretends they like each other and then go off to the mall. Québec is a family. Members of a family don’t choose each other and often don’t even like each other. But they have to live together. The only way they can do that is by talking to each other.
Communication is a good thing. What you guys are doing is preaching. It’s not such a good thing.