Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Herouxville saga

Quebec Liberal Premier Jean Charest has asked sociologist Gerard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor to head a commission studying 'reasonable accommodation' of ethnic and religious minorities.

This is in response to the Herouxville norms, (see background here, and the raw nerves they've exposed.

I don't know much about Bouchard, but Taylor is clearly an inspired choice here-- not only one of the world's leading philosophers and a towering figure in Quebec intellectual life, but also simultaneously a partisan of Quebec identity and adefender of multicultural accommodation of minorities; and simultaneously a committed religious believer and a progressive. (He was also, of course, the dominant figure in the building of political theory in my department at McGill over the course of decades, though he's not here now and I've only met hi a couple of times.)

But Taylor's stature doesn't mean the commission will be able to finesse the gap that's been exposed between the expectations of some Quebecois and the expectations of some minority immigrants. I expect to blog about this a bit more soon, but carefully-- unlike Taylor, I'm very much a guest in Quebec. The desire to be a polite guest has prevented me from blogging about the story up until now, even though it got play in the worl dpress and lies squarely within my area of expertise. But I thought that the appointment of Taylor would be of interest to political theory and political philosophy blog-readers.

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