NEWS

Gatineau Immigrant Guide Draws Human Rights Complaint

01/18/2012 07:14 EST | Updated 03/19/2012 05:12 EDT
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A Moroccan immigrant living in Gatineau, Que., whose personal information was shared among city officials and leaked to him via email, has filed a formal complaint with Quebec's Human Rights Commission regarding an immigrant values guide.

Kamal Maghri became privy to details officials dug up on him in mid-December, a couple of days after he first wrote an email to the City of Gatineau Dec. 10 saying he would file a formal complaint regarding an immigrant "statement of values" released Nov. 28.

Maghri said he was shocked when he saw an email exchange about him that revealed his personal debt. But even more alarming to him, it noted his arrival in Canada "just before the terrorist attacks" of Sept. 11, 2001.

The only reason for the investigation of him was his complaint about the 16-point values guide, which aims to help newcomers integrate into local society and learn how to interact in a new environment.

It spells out basic information, but also suggests immigrants should try to limit cooking "smelly foods" and refrain from bribing city officials. But now, Maghri has taken his complaint about the guide to the province.

"For me it's about justice," Maghri told the CBC's Alistair Steele. "It's about dignity because my privacy was violated, my reputation was touched."

Mayor's apology called insufficient

Maghri did receive a formal apology from Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau Dec. 14 but maintains that was not enough.

He still wants a formal apology to all immigrants who are offended, adding the guide should be trashed.

The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations helped Maghri file the complaint. The group told CBC News many people have contacted it about the Gatineau immigrant values guide.

"We have been contacted by many individuals in Gatineau and outside of Gatineau who feel that this code of values is not only very offensive, but also dangerous because it promotes stereotypes against immigrants," said Fo Niemi, the group's executive director.

The group will file more human rights complaints next week on behalf of other residents, Niemi said.

This case has reminded many people of a 2007 immigrant code in Hérouxville, Que., that first included references to "no stoning of women in public" and "no female circumcision."

The town council quickly altered the code.