Gatineau’s Values Guide for Immigrants Stirs Controversy

Ingrid Peritz, Globe and Mail, December 5, 2011

One of Quebec’s biggest cities is throwing out the welcome mat to immigrants with a 16-point guide to local values, which range from refraining from bribing officials, killing people for honour, to cooking smelly foods.

The city of Gatineau says its newly released “statement of values” is aimed at helping newcomers integrate. But critics say it infantilizes them and treats immigrants “like they came out of a cave.”

The guide is already drawing comparisons to the controversial code of conduct adopted by the Quebec village of Hérouxville during the heat of the province’s reasonable accommodation debate in 2007. Unlike Hérouxville, however, which banned stonings even though it only had a single immigrant family, Gatineau is home to about 250,000 and has seen a surge in international immigration in recent years.

The administration of Mayor Marc Bureau says it published its list of “essential values” to help the newly arrived fit in and learn “how to interact” in their new environment, according to the guide.

“We are basically saying: Thank you for coming to Gatineau, we’re very happy you’re here, and this is how things work,” said Mireille Apollon, the councillor responsible for cultural diversity in the city, which lies within the National Capital Region across the river from Ottawa.

“We receive immigrants from diverse horizons and cultures,” Ms. Apollon, who herself immigrated from Haiti decades ago, said on Sunday. “Behaviours aren’t uniform around the globe. There can be irritants.”

Some of the dos and don’ts of becoming a resident of Gatineau cover familiar ground for newcomers to Canada. Men and women are equal. In Quebec, French is the official language. Canadian and Quebec values include freedom, democracy and justice.

But the guide, which received funding from the Quebec government, also takes stands that typically remain outside the purview of civic officials.

On a page titled “Children are our most precious good,” the guide says that no-nos include “excessive punishments, corporal and sexual abuse, confinement, neglect, forced labour, humiliation, willful malnutrition,” among other things.

The section on punctuality says it’s best to show up to appointments on time or even a few minutes early. Under freedom of expression, the guide tells immigrants that journalists in Canada have the right to openly criticize their government. Religion, it says, is a private affair and religious indoctrination is “often not well perceived.”

One page mentions that it’s not okay to offer bribes. Under “hygiene, cleanliness and quality of life,” the guide says respecting others extends to curtailing smells like cigarette smoke and “strong odors emanating from cooking.”

The most detailed section, meanwhile, informs newcomers that violence is not justified in the name of “ancestral rights,” “safeguarding honour,” or “culture or religion.” The guide doesn’t mention particular immigrant groups by name, but notes that simple matters that are obvious to some people “might surprise others.”

Immigration has picked up speed in Gatineau in recent years. Fewer than one in 10 residents is foreign-born, but projections call for the number to increase. Immigration leapt 28 per cent last year over the previous year in the metropolitan region, the biggest rise in Canada after Edmonton. The city has seen a large increase in immigrants from Africa, including those from the French-speaking Maghreb.

Some critics say the guide is both of questionable value as well as redundant, since both Canada and Quebec already spell out the rights and responsibilities for immigrants. The latest edition of the federal government’s citizenship guide says Canada’s “openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings,’ female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence.”

Fo Niemi, head of the Centre for Research Action on Race-Relations, a Montreal-based rights group, denounced Gatineau’s guide, saying it was reminiscent of the church’s “paternalistic” attitude toward aboriginals in past decades. He said that immigrants to Quebec are selected for their high levels of education and professional achievement.

“This infantilizes them,” he said on Sunday. He says he knows many native-born Canadians who could use a lesson about punctuality, and at a time when bullying is at the forefront of national concerns, guidelines for overall civic responsibility would be useful.

“This singles out immigrants and treats them like they came out of a cave,” Mr. Niemi said. “It practically portrays them as being Neanderthals.”

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  • Chicagoan

    The real insanity is in allowing all these third worlders to converge upon the first world. No third world countries are stupid enough to allow massive invasions of foreigners into their lands. It is sheer national suicide. Whites will become a people without a home, which is the very most basic requirement for continued existence.

  • Anonymous

    Under “hygiene, cleanliness and quality of life,” the guide says respecting others extends to curtailing smells like cigarette smoke and “strong odors emanating from cooking.”

    This is a good start, but I’m more concerned about the strong odors emanating from not bathing enough.

    The latest edition of the federal government’s citizenship guide says Canada’s “openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings,’ female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence.”

    They also should’ve included something about not ritually slaughtering goats on their apartment balconies. (This was the source of one of Brigitte Bardot’s hatespeech convictions in France.)

    He said that immigrants to Quebec are selected for their high levels of education and professional achievement.

    Nonsense. Quebec selects for speaking some variation of francais, however broken, nonstandard, or subliterate. This is why Montreal gets Haitians and Senegalese and Algerians while Toronto gets Jamaicans and Somalis and Ethiopians. If “high levels of education and professional achievement” were really the criteria, the entire Province of Quebec would have a black population that you could count on two hands.

    Also, please note that the immigrant advocate (from Haiti) having a conniption over these guidelines is (a) given the final word in the article, which always a telling sign of journalistic bias; and (b) has his money-quote “treats [immigrants] like they came out of a cave” line cited twice, first at the beginning of the piece and then again at the end.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, that brings back memories of apartment days smelling large amounts of overcooked curry and Arabs yelling Humdaleelah!

  • Anonymous

    But critics say it infantilizes them and treats immigrants “like they came out of a cave.”

    Some of them probably did come out of caves.

    Several refugee groups have caused massive apartment fires in America by starting “cooking fires” in the middle of their living rooms – they just dug a hole in the carpet, surrounded it with stones or bricks, then lit up some coals!! If 3rd world immigrants are doing that sort of thing here, I’m sure they’re doing it in Quebec as well.

  • Anonymous

    According to police sources in the National Capital Region, Africans are now the largest ‘visible minority’ or non-white racial group.

    Why did they come in the last 20 years? Affirmative action hiring in government, a lot of liberal whites who will bend over backwards for them, and generous social housing and benefits.

    They’re keeping the justice system very busy, which is the real reason for publishing this code of conduct.

  • OnGuard

    It’s amazing to think that most First Worlders automatically think that our values are universal! Immigrants don’t drop their culture at the border, like taking off a coat, when they immigrate. And with multiculturalism and political correctness, they are encouraged, by suicidal liberals, to keep the culture from the country that they CHOSE to leave. I like diversity, that’s why I want a white Western civilization homeland!

  • Deirdre

    Oh no, the immigrants are being offended? They are being treated terribly; being talked down to and infantilized. Which is soooo much worse than all of the violent crime they will commit when they settle in. The native Canadians had better be careful, and learn to walk on eggshells, or the immigrants might not be happy. They may even decide not to stay and then the people of Quebec will have to live their boring lives without all the richness of diversity and culture that we are all so lucky to enjoy. I personally cannot imagine how perfectly awful it would be without Africans and Haitians here in NY.

  • Ralph

    How dare they insult the neanderthals by comparing them to the third world uncivilized masses.

    I applaud this Canadian province for attempting to assist these people with adapting to the modern western world.

  • Ian J. MacDonald

    Mr. Niemi said that “it practically portrays them as being Neanderthals.”

    Why this vicious slur against Neanderthals? I think that it is racist and hateful to slander an entire group of people and to propagate such wicked stereotypes.

    Please, Mr. Niemi, stop the hate!

  • white advocate – Canada

    Quebec is going along with the pro-diversity movement. It could say no, it has enough demographic control if it wants to. The survival of French is taken as sacred, so the emphasis is on French speaking immigrants. Since there are maybe a few thousand a year being white, Quebec has to go looking elsewhere. I keeping seeing Mahgreb mentioned, which is precisely the place that Europe is mobilizing to stop.

    I don’t understand the farce debate over values in Quebec. I can’t understand who is trying to win with this ridiculous tactic. There are so many really good books on national character that I can’t understand why the good ideas are never raised. Do they think we are morons out here in the reading public? To name a few: Samuel P. Huntington, Albion’s Seed, Thomas Sowell, AmRen, Richard Brookhiser.

  • Anonymous

    It’s always very instructive to imagine if situations were reserved; if, for example, this was a village in China or Africa issuing a list of local community standards intended for expatriates and visitors to adhere to.

    The same people condemning this Canadian town would be tripping over themselves to prove how much respect they had for the community’s traditions and to gush about the rich heritage contained in them.

  • Walter

    I find this absolutely hilarious. A community who is letting immigrants come to their community willingly is coming under fire for having minimal standards against killing, sexual abuse, forced labor and the like. Has it really come to this? Whites cannot even apply minimal community standards without being harassed by the left?

  • Jim

    Cave, hut, what is the difference?

  • Jack Krak

    If we have to remind them not to kill members of their own family in matters of “honor”, remind me why we need hundreds of thousands of them.

    “Behaviours aren’t uniform around the globe. There can be irritants.”

    Well, he got that right.

  • Hans Schneider

    Good for Gatineau. They however forgot to mention that SATI (widow burning) is not allowed in the streets as it is practiced in India.

  • Anonymous

    I like the line about strong odors from cooking. Obviously, the person who wrote that has been around a few Indian families when they cook that nose offending curry. Indian food makes your eyes water.

    Now, instead of assimilating the “Immigrants”, how about they go home?

  • white is right, black is whack

    Why, how dare the Canadians assert their own rights and ask immigrants to shape up or leave!

  • Anonymous

    8 — Ralph wrote at 10:24 PM on December 5:

    “How dare they insult the neanderthals by comparing them to the third world uncivilized masses.

    I applaud this Canadian province for attempting to assist these people with adapting to the modern western world.”

    I would only agree if this were part of a larger strategy aimed at eventual deportations for failure to assimilate. Otherwise, it is just another liberal pipe dream of a utopia where all types find enlightenment together and live harmoniously – or else.

    You know, like the utopia they have in England now.

  • Anonymous

    16 — Anonymous wrote at 9:24 AM on December 6:

    I like the line about strong odors from cooking. Obviously, the person who wrote that has been around a few Indian families when they cook that nose offending curry. Indian food makes your eyes water.

    My relator showed me a condo owned by large family of recent immigrant Indians. It was so horrible it could smelled down the hallway as we approached (even though it was 9am and they hadn’t cooked since the night before). The inside of the unit was suffocating, and would need to be stripped to the concrete and studs to get rid of that stink.

    I can’t imagine being a neighbor to such hideous stench! It would permeate the walls and ruin your chance of resale.

  • AO

    Quebec’s dream of an independent, North American, french speaking state is dead.

    Even if the immigrants that come speak french or are made to learn french, they don’t care about sovereignty. They are a different people and do not care about the plight of French Canadians.

    Congratulations! You have done away with yourselves.