The identity and Charter of Values debates in Quebec have definitely increased tensions on both sides of this province’s linguistic divide. Personally, I am sad and angry at this state of affairs. I am scared for the future of this province. The separation debate is one thing, but trying to win an election by instilling fear of your neighbours is much, much worse.
Much of the support for these divisive policies seems to be coming from Quebec’s “regions”. Areas outside of the big cities where the population is very homogeneous. They don’t see Muslims very often. Most of them don’t have Muslim friends, and I dare say that many might never have even met one.
It seems that there are 2 plausible explanations for the 40%+ support of these policies. 1) that the people who support them are truly hateful, or 2) that they are scared, insecure, fearful of what they don’t know or have much experience with. I fear that it could be #1, but I hope with all of my heart that it is #2.
One friend told me that he is disappointed that through all of the complaining about these laws, we are seeing very few solutions being proposed. He’s absolutely right. I would like to propose a solution, one that I need your help in making happen.
Let’s build bridges in Quebec.
The media hasn’t been effective in getting people to see other viewpoints. Harmony doesn’t sell newspapers and ad space; conflict does. Sensationalism does. And I certainly don’t trust this government to help. It is in the PQ’s interest to sow division, fear, and discontent in its base.
So what can we do?
We need to go straight to them. We need to travel to where they are. We need these people to meet real live anglophones, real live allophones, real live Muslims, face to face.
We need to create a direct dialogue to show them what we contribute to Quebec and to make it patently clear that, contrary to what the PQ will have them believe, we are partners, not enemies.
We need to organize town hall type meetings where we can pass along a positive, unfiltered message. Where everyone can learn about the other in a way that isn’t biased by government propaganda or media hype.
We have a problem, and direct dialogue is the only way that has a chance to solve it.
We need to do this now. Yesterday, in fact.
I don’t personally have the resources to make this happen, but many interested Quebecers do. If you believe that this plan might make a difference, please share this post on your social networks in hopes that the right people will hear about it and help make it a reality.