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One decade since the last round of disinformation about former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide kicked into high gear, Quebec mainstream print media has proven itself impervious to historical fact. According to columnists, editors and political cartoonists in Quebec’s most influential print media, Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a lunatic, a dictator on par with Baby Doc, a last-ditch hope for desperate Haitians, and a danger to Haiti. Here’s some of what the chroniclers of our time have been saying to the majority French population in Quebec. The translations to English are mine.
The principle columnist on Haiti for La Presse in Montreal has been Vincent Marissal, a popular figure on the Quebec media landscape. Reporting from Port-au-Prince, he mused about who should replace Préval (a failed leader who he feels should be replaced with no democratic process) :
« Obviously, several leaders are totally inappropriate, but as long as the opposition doesn’t find someone capable of rallying people and creating a concensus, it will be wasting its energy. It’s not for nothing that we see banners and graffiti demanding the return of Aristide. People are looking for a glimmer of hope, even if it means looking into the darkest corners of their recent past. »(1)
In his February 12th column, Vincent Marissal, chronicler for La Presse in Montreal, called for an imposed tutelage for five years in Haiti. He proposed it should be made up of unnamed well-known Haitian personalities, members of the diaspora and the international community. According to him, the failed relief effort in Haiti is to be blamed entirely on the Préval administration, which has lost all legitimacy in Haiti and should thereby be replaced from the outside. Below is a response I have written to Mr. Marissal. I encourage you to draft your own, in English or French. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a link to his original article: (http://www.cyberpresse.ca/opinions/chroniqueurs/vincent-marissal/201002/12/01-948858-le-temps-dagir.php)
Montreal, February 14th, 2010
Dear Mr. Marissal,
By Stefan Christoff
Algerian refugee Abdelkader Belaouni has spent the past two years in sanctuary at St-Gabriel's Church in Pointe St-Charles. On Jan. 1, 2005, Belaouni took sanctuary in open defiance of a deportation ordered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
"I'm not hiding from Immigration Canada, but I want to tell them clearly, I will not be presenting myself for deportation," stated Belaouni in a public statement at the time.
Ever since, Abdelkader Belaouni, with the support of multiple community organizations and social justice groups, has been fighting a very public battle with Immigration Canada. It isn't the only battle he's faced in this lifetime. In 1996 he escaped a violent civil conflict in Algeria, which took an estimated 100,000 civilian lives. As a blind man, Belaouni made the journey to New York City, and while he never gained status there he did carve out an independent life selling telephone cards.
Following Sept. 11, 2001, Belaouni left New York out of the fear of systemic persecution against Arabs and Muslims, including mass deportations, disappearances and the fire-bombings of mosques. Immigration Canada didn't exercise sympathy or compassion in the case, instead issuing a deportation order for Belaouni three years after his arrival in Montreal.
Today, Belaouni remains in sanctuary, never having stepped foot outside St-Gabriel's Church in all the time he's been there. "After two years I remain here without status. It is tiring, it is depressing, I want freedom," he explains. "It is clear that the government is aware of my current suffering and my difficult history in Algeria; they must act now and regularize my status."
Photograph: Women's studies student Lily Tandel presenting the statement (below) to the Commission's Citizens' Forum on November 20, at the Bibliothèque Interculturelle in Côte-des-Neiges, Montréal. Also pictured, Nada Fadol, a member of the statement-writing committee. Photo credit: Tanya Déry-Obin.
"Reasonable Accommodation": A Feminist Response /
Les « accommodements raisonnables » : Une réponse féministe
Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Montréal
[version française à suivre]
As anti-racist, anti-colonial feminists in Québec, we have serious misgivings about the Commission de Consultation sur les pratiques d'accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles. The Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec (CSF) has proposed that the Québec Charter be changed so as to accord the right of gender equality relative priority over the right to religious expression and to ban the wearing of "ostentatious" religious symbols in public institutions by public employees. Our concern is that the Commission and the CSF's subsequent intervention pave the way for legislation that will restrict rather than enhance the rights of women. We invite you to join us in questioning the exclusionary structure of the Commission, the assumptions it supports, and the negative impact it is likely to have on women's lives.
So, why call into question the legitimacy and the effects of the Commission?
Download / Podcast the program HERE.
In Canada, a state commission on “Reasonable Accommodation” regarding the rights of minorities and new immigrants in Quebec has created a storm of controversy. This edition of Radio Tadamon! features Indu Vashist, a community organizer in Montreal and May Hayder of Al-Hidaya Association presenting alternative perspectives on ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ to the government sponsored commission...
Download / Podcast the program from the Rabble Podcast Network.
Listen to an interview with Nazila Bettache of No One is Illegal Montreal on ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ in Quebec. A governmental commission began last week in Canada, on the growing racism faced in Quebec by immigrants.
Immigrants in Quebec have faced a growing political storm throughout the past year, as a Provincial debate on what is referred to as ‘reasonable accommodation’ has attracted international headlines.
* Radio Tadamon! is produced by the Tadamon! collective in Montreal, a social justice group focusing on building solidarity with movements for social / economic justice in the Middle East and Montreal, while also working within Diaspora communities in Canada.
Can anyone have info or links regarding the Quebec Government's involvement in education in Haiti? email@example.com
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.