That we have a widespread anti-fat bias and discrimination out there is no secret. But when this comes from the very people who should be there to provide help and support to those struggling with excess weight, I guess we really have a problem. I asked readers to share the stupidest remarks they have ever heard from a health professional about their weight -- the response was overwhelming.
Québec's credo is "Je me souviens", which loosely translates to "I will remember". But there is never a bad time to appropriate this mantra in the rest of Canada, to understand where we've come from and appreciate how far we've come as the world's first nation to adopt a federal multiculturalism policy. To that end, here are some low-lights of Canadian history.
Premier Pauline Marois' proposal to ban religious symbols in public sector settings like schools, hospitals and daycares is as unconstitutional as it is offensive to every religious minority in Quebec and across the nation. Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms under Section 2 specifically states a Canadian's right to freedom of religion and expression among others, no matter where you are.
The last time the Canadian Forces made a huge effort to integrate a minority, there were serious concerns. There was a demographic forming 28 per cent of the Canadian population, which was said not to fit into the traditional military mould. They were seen as too "different", too "rebellious", too contrary to ever enter the fold of the military elite. They were French-Canadians.
Quebec's Premier Marois is proposing legislation that, in the interest of uniting the province, would include a ban on religious headwear for public employees. This type of argument -- that greater uniformity within a given population would foster unity within that population -- actually has historical precedence. The reality is Marois is not necessarily incorrect.
On the heels of the Quebec Soccer Federation banning children from wearing turbans while playing in kiddie league games, the Province of Quebec has extended the ban to include cowboy hats being worn anywhere in public by adults or children. "Cowboy hats are destroying our natural French love of toques," said Premier Pauline Marois, making the announcement from the steps of the Assemblee Nationale (National Assembly) in Quebec City, wearing a green paisley beret to match her business suit.
Just north of the city, I sat in a room full of frustrated immigrants who had gathered to listen to promises made by Cécile Kyenge, who just last week made history when she was appointed Italy's first black cabinet minister. In Italy, if you are a child of immigrant parents, you are considered extracomunitari, a "foreigner" before the law. But maybe not for long.
A spokesman for the Ontario Human Rights Commission has finally admitted what was obvious to any thinking person from the very inception of the Human Rights Code: namely, that the code would eventually start generating numerous problems over so-called "conflicting rights." The admission can be found in this Toronto Star article: "Woman denied haircut goes to Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario."
After much indignation from Canadians, some who do not fit the "neutral ethnicity" the Bank of Canada's P.R. team had seemingly invented, Bank governor Mark Carney, offered a carefully worded statement this morning. Though the governor "apologizes to those who were offended," admitting that "the Bank's handling of this issue did not meet the standards Canadians," there were many points missing from the statement. The Twitterverse is abuzz about the underlying problems in Canadian society which proclaims allegiance to multiculturalism.
Innoversity is a not-for-profit organization that has spent the past 13 years struggling with some success "to create opportunities for cultural minority, Aboriginal and disabled Canadians to actively engage with, and be reflected within, key social sectors and institutions." That's institution-speak for fighting racism and all the other isms that still stain our society, particularly our media.
Administrative efficiency, human rights, respect for minorities and the integration of immigrants are all good reasons to put an end to religious segregation. Yet for politicians, the question remains taboo. We're in the early days of the provincial election campaign, and leaders are avoiding the subject like the plague.