Thursday, December 13, 2007

Taking a stand

It unfortunately seems to have been buried on a day dominated by Brian Mulroney, the DMCA and other headline stories. But as I'd hoped, Thomas Mulcair appeared before the Bouchard-Taylor commission today to present a strong defence of multiculturalism on behalf of the federal NDP:
The reaction of some of Quebec's political leaders to anxieties about immigration has smacked of dishonesty and gutlessness, says the NDP lone's MP from the province.

Appearing Thursday before a government commission on the reasonable accommodation of immigrants, Thomas Mulcair made thinly veiled attacks against what he described as the opportunism of Quebec's opposition parties as well as the Bloc Quebecois.

"Quebec has always been a welcoming society, a model in the world," Mulcair said. "There are people who are playing with the sentiments of certain sectors of the population, putting fuel on a fire that doesn't need any."

The NDP is among the last groups to present a brief before the commission wraps up on Friday.

Their position, which prescribes a multicultural solution to the question of accommodating minorities, encapsulates one side of a debate that has been rehashed incessantly in recent months.

"Living in society requires accommodation every day from every one of us, that's part of the definition of living in society," Mulcair said...

Political parties, both federal and provincial, have been given a chance during the final week of hearings to present their own positions to the commission.

Both the federal Conservatives and Stephane Dion's Liberals opted not to take part.
The CP article appears to have focused mostly on Mulcair's (justifiable) shots at the provincial politicians whose intolerance led to the commission's appointment rather than the NDP's substantive suggestions. For those interested in the latter, though, the NDP's memorandum to the commission offers both needed criticism of the current federal and provincial actions which have served to attack the position of minorities, as well as examples of the types of policies which would help to reverse the trend.

It remains to be seen whether Mulcair's message will manage to attract any further media attention to help influence the wider debate. (And it's worth wondering both whether a Lib response would have received more attention, and whether their apparent decision to take a pass will hurt the cause of multiculturalism.)

But whether or not the NDP's submission receives the media attention it deserves, it's still worth highlighting that at least one federal party was ready and willing to stand up for diversity. And hopefully that courage won't go unrewarded.

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