The time has come for Quebec to get over its collective identity crisis and adapt to the realities of a secular, pluralistic society, says a provincial commission report on the thorny issue of reasonable accommodation.
"The foundations of collective life in Quebec are not in a critical situation," said the Bouchard-Taylor commission, in its final report on the state of so-called reasonable accommodation of religious and cultural beliefs.
"What we are facing, instead, is the need to adapt," and the government must play a leading role in establishing better guidelines for "interculturalism," the report concludes.
The commission report summarizes months of public hearings held last year across the province that explored the impact of religious accommodations on Quebec’s identity and values.
Those meetings exposed many anxieties felt by Quebecers of French-Canadian descent about the apparent threat of accommodation on their identity.
The commission said that the insecurity in the province was largely fuelled by a crisis of perception, stoked by distortions in media reports on cases of accommodation. It also emphasized that Quebecers of French-Canadian descent, even though they are a minority in North America, remain the ruling majority in Quebec, where they have nothing to worry about.
The province needs to define its secular nature to improve relations between the majority and ethnic minorities, said the commission.
That includes greater measures, statutes and guidelines to counteract discrimination.
But accommodation should not be overly legislated, the commission said. Rather, it noted that it’s up to individuals and community groups to work out how they will accommodate each other on a case by case basis, respecting provincial guidelines.