Turban Issue: The REAL Message for Quebec’s Separatists

There was a bright ray of sunshine emanating from Quebec this past week … and I’m not referring to the decision itself that saw Quebec’s xenophobic separatists/nationalists back down.

Quebec’s bigots backed down … not because they saw the light themselves and repudiated their racist move… but because the WORLD-WIDE soccer body FIFA  told them how ridiculous their stand was:  because the Canadian Soccer Association told them to get stuffed and TWENTY other Canadian teams pulled out of a Quebec tourney; and …. and this point many people have missed…  because Quebec’s younger people, for the first time, signalled “NON” to the racists in their midst.

I’m talking about Quebec’s “new” generation: young people who are more educated, more worldly and … thanks to the Internet, Facebook, travel, television and just  mature thinking … are  more sophisticated than their bigoted and ignorant parents and grandparents.

In the town of Brosssard, the coach of an 18-member  youth soccer team aged 14 and under … and not a Sikh among them …  had a talk with them about the exclusionary rule.   And, even facing possible disqualification  …. they ALL decided to don Sikh headgear in a game against rival Granby.  The ref raised no objection in pre-game equipment checks, but then the Granby coach objected, and the ref told the Brossard boys the mini-turbans had to go.

But  the Brossard team stood its ground and THEIR coach pointed out there was NO FIFA rule banning the kerchiefs, so the ref allowed the mini-turbans ..and the game took place: no injuries: no sky fell in; no lightning bolts.

The Granby coach called the Brossard kids’ move “stupid”  …. and his team won 2 to 1.

But the real winners, of course, were the Brossard kids.  And tolerance. And respect. And a growing indication that a “new” Quebec is finally emerging … led by its young people.

Meanwhile, a public opinion poll (they don’t lie, do they?) showed that while 47% of Quebecois backed the turban ban, as a safety question,  a WHOPPING (for Quebec!) 36% disagreed …and said turbans should be allowed.


Sure, that’s not quite up to the results in the rest of Canada: where only 30% supported the ban and 46% said turbans should be ok….but I don’t think five or ten years ago in Quebec, you’d find even 25% rejecting the ban and publicly voicing support for the Sikh kids.

And I have not been able to find an age analysis for the latest Quebec poll …but I have NO DOUBT that support for the turban ban was highest in the OVER 50s and support for the Sikh kids was highest in the UNDER 50s.

And how’s this: a city councillor in Montreal was  going to introduce a motion  “denouncing” Quebec Soccer Federation.

With people speaking up … the bullies backed down.  Bien fait! Well done!

It is all a good concrete sign that younger Quebecois have had enough of  all the divide-and-conquer rhetoric and strategies of the Parti Quebecois, its separatist activists, nationalist supporters…and just plain old Quebecois xenophobic bigots!

Bravo encore un fois!

Times ARE changing there …in terms of acceptance, tolerance and diversity …  slower than the rest of the country and much slower than many of us would like … but this smack down IS significant.

And it happened for much more than just a FIFA ruling.  Remember,  Quebec Premier Pauline Marois had said earlier “NO ONE” would tell Quebec what to do … it would decide on its own.

Clearly, the separatists saw the writing on the wall from their own people …and the message was not what they wanted to see.

Of course, they won’t stop: I suspect right now, there are little groups of separatist sympathizers thinking of new ways to encourage “les autres” to pack their bags and get out.  The aim  … in the next referendum (and there WILL be one if the PQ gets another term) the “pure lain” Quebecois numbers will represent an even greater proportion of voters … and the referendum will have a better chance of passing.

A pox on their heads … and a mini-turban on ALL Canadians required by their faith to wear one.

Harv Oberfeld

(P.S.  While writing this one, I had a terrific craving for a Wilensky’s Special.  Montrealers … ex and present …will understand. 🙂 )

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15 Responses to Turban Issue: The REAL Message for Quebec’s Separatists

  1. Mike says:

    Diversity= anti white. What is it with you baby boomers who are so hell bent on screwing over your own people. Why is your generation so enthused with seeing the country turn into some kind of third world hell hole? These turban wearing invaders can turn right around and go back to the punjab if they don’t like the way we do things.

    (Response: Unfortunately, we will always have a few bigoted people amongst us, but it’s how respectful of each other that the majority are that really counts. h.o.)

  2. G. Barry Stewart says:

    I see a bit where you’re coming from, Mike. It’s pretty striking to see your country change colour in a matter of generations… but who are we whities to say “It’s our way or the highway”?

    Most white folk in Canada can only trace their Canadian heritage to the early 1900s. At best, to the 1600s. In the history of mankind, that’s only a sneeze.

    Learn to live with it. To do otherwise is like paddling upstream in monsoon season.

  3. Larry Bennett says:

    Would I be on the right track if I were to guess that Milensky’s Special contained corned beef?
    But, but, but …..

    Mayor Moonbeam’s Meatless Mondays mean,
    That Catholics will start looking lean,
    Two days a week, they’ll forgo steak,
    For Mac and cheese, for goodness sake!

    And all that beef, now on the hoof,
    Diminish nothing – where’s the proof?
    With all the gas the Mayor’s imparting,
    Add to it, what the cows are farting!

  4. Coy Santos says:

    Their missteps have even made international headlines. First, last winter, when Quebec language police found “too much Italian” in an Italian restaurant menu, and now with the ban on turbans on Quebec soccer fields.

    (Response: Hard to believe it’s 2013 …not 1953! h.o.)

  5. Jason Angulo says:

    Wilensky’s Special! Oh haven’t had one of those in so many years. Harvey, why do you taunt me so? Seriously though, I’ve become so ashamed to say I’m from Quebec with each passing day and with each passing headline that basically shows Quebec as a racist, phobic, and self-persecuting society that gets to break all the rules in an effort to create their idea of a utopian society.

    I’m also ashamed at the elected officials of the rest of the country for overall choosing to turn their heads, or at least not pushing for them to obey the constitution with the same vigor that would be applied anywhere else in Canada. Unfortunately my guess that is a political decision in which they don’t want to “rock the boat” and either lose vital Quebec voters’ support or heighten hostilities between the separatist movement and the federalists.

    What do you think?

    (Response: Last time I was at Wilensky’s, Moe was still there! Times change…Schwartz-s is now owned by Celine Dionne family! Your absolutely right about our elected reps: no other province would ever get away with the xenophobic laws/rules/statements of Quebeckers without being challenged and castigated. But I do see signs that younger Quebecois … more used to seeing, meeting and socializing with “others” … are rejecting or at least ignoring the prejudices of their parents and grandparents. They’re still well BEHIND the rest of Canada … but hopefully moving in the same direction. h.o.)

  6. e.a.f. says:

    Those who would believe Quebec can be a stand alone country, with French as the only language permited are out of step with the world. Those who persist with these views are aging baby boomers who came into the world/job market when things were much better.

    Today’s young people understand if you aren’t literate in English your opportunities are limited. To say other ethnic minorities/religions may not practise their religions/customs in Quebec may mark job seekers as less than open minded. Quebec may not be interested in foreign investment, which is fine but they most likely will need to do business with other countries. Acting as the premier of Quebec did, and the other woman–play in your backyard–isn’t going to endear them to anyone who might do business with them. They will take a pass.

    When these two women speak about their intent to exclude all others, there is a look about them which is not pleasant, its their expressions, body language.

    Yes the french festish francophones, are a dying breed. Even if every one born elsewhere left Quebec, the P.Q. might not win a referendeum.

  7. Diverdarren says:

    The polls say 47% favour the turban ban to 36%. That’s an 11 point lead and you think its worth a bravo?

    Do you think that the separatists might use this little battle as propaganda to help support their real goal of Quebec independence? One again Anglo-Canada bullying the Quebecers into forfeiting their culture and way of life for the Anglos and their vision of multiculturalism.

    I would think that Quebec looks at the Western nations, and on one hand they see the UK’s multicultural society, and on the other France and their dedication to making sure their county stays french. Quebecers can also see the route that Canada has chosen for itself… Capitulation of Canadian culture, traditions and practices for a society divided in individual ethnicity, tribalism and religious cloisters. (The UK path).

    The France path, on the other hand enforces the concept that french culture will be supreme and that all those who choose to live their will put the nation-state ahead of the lands they left. I guess you could call this the melting-pot approach. An approach to immigrant integration that has been proven to work; it certainly did for the US in the 1900’s . This French policy has caused present day conflict, but will forge a more unified and stronger nation.

    Given the choices of a multicultural UK future or a unified France future Quebec has made their choice and Anglo-Canada has made her choice. We are going down two different paths. Every little spat over stupid stuff like turbans only helps separatists in their cause.

    (Response:You’re correct in suggesting 36% is not huge … esp in comparison with the rest of the country. But in the case of Quebec Francophones, who have such a long-standing record of anti-Semitism, anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-anglo laws and social attitudes, it IS a big improvement. And I attribute it to younger Quebecois..and hopefully that will continue to grow as Quebec’s ignorant old bigots die off. h.o.)

  8. morry says:

    Not an easy answer. We do wish to be somewhat inclusive. But i sure as hell don’t want to be taken over by muslim fundamentalists, been in Europe for the past two months. this sentiment is rampant there as well… there is a limit as to who who bent to. The west won because we have certain principals. we win and we trump. that is the way it is. To think otherwise is to drop you pants and bend over. not I.

    (Response: Agreed … no takeover by fundamentalists. But that’s a lonnnnnng way from a 14 year old Sikh kid just wanting to play soccer with other kids. h.o.)

  9. 13 says:

    I must admit that I am one of the 50 plus types that fear that Canada is becoming a third world country. We work harder and longer than we ever did in the past. Our wages have been stagnant and have slipped backwards over the years.
    In my chosen proffesion the 8 hour work day is a thing of the past. Overtime is either gone or doesnt kick in until you have worked 60 plus hours in a week. Even the Teamsters have gone to a 9 or 10 hour work day. The CAW had to put language innto a contract that stated drivers could not be compeled to work more than 10 hours a day. This was a real laugher. The trucking company owners were dead set against any language limiting their ability to force drivers to work 18 hour days. The East Indian drivers were afraid that the language would preclude them from working the long hours that they are used to working. Before anyone trots out the hours of service regulations understand that they dont mean squat. The drivers cheat on their logs and the owners dont give a damn about any regulations.
    I remember when I statred out in trucking. In the early seventies it was a great job. Good pay great benefits. Then came deregulation and imigration. These two forces worked in tandem to destroy trucking and turn it into a third world way to earn a living.
    So forgive me for remebering the days when a turban was seen on a package of Nabob coffee.

  10. Beenie says:

    Nice article Harvey. You da man. You sayz it az it iz. No problem with turbins. I do believe that the young generation of Quebec are more worldly and not as ignorant as previous generations.

  11. Dan McAlistair says:

    I was a follower of your stories at Global and now read each article on Puget Sound. Wow. Your piece on TV Turmoil hits the nail on the head.

    Other than BBC maybe, there isn’t a newscast that can hold me more than a few minutes. The drivel that spews out of the TV each day is embarrassing. More and more I switch channels to confirm there is nothing happening in the world to report on. Now I usually have “MASH” on KVOS, from 6-7PM. At least it’s worthy of a laugh.

    You are not alone in your astonishment on the topic of local news.

    Dan McAllister
    General Manager

    (Response: Many thanks. It’s not easy to take a stand … and have paid a price for it (read my response to Larry Bennett)…but frankly, I just can’t stay silent when it is becoming so obvious! h.o.

  12. Bernie Pascall says:

    Hi Harvey:
    Great piece on TV situation….I agree.
    Boy has industry changed…lots of waving, giggles and questionable content.With easy access to internet sports and news
    sources…the immediacy of TV, Radio is almost obsolete. We enjoyed the “good days” of Television broadcasting…a salute to Ray
    Peters, Bill Elliott, Cameron Bell and all the dedicated cameramen, reporters,editors and others who cared!

    (Response: Good to hear from you, Bernie. You’re right the industry has changed and judging by the sagging numbers, not for the good! h.o)

  13. G. Barry Stewart says:

    13, thanks for sharing your working experience, as it shows how you have — I’d say rightfully — developed your disdain for what has happened to the trucking industry.

    You make a compelling connection between the degradation of that industry and the rise of the Sikh trucking community. It ‘sounds’ like racism… but I think in this situation, I’d have to agree with you.

    Standards are developed for safety and efficiency, among other reasons. While turbans in soccer pose no safety concern, the deregulation in the trucking industry can harm any one of us, without warning.

    Thank GOD for the CVSE safety inspectors, who attempt to keep our roads safe. (Can you imagine if that service were contracted out to the lowest bidder?)

    Sorry for going off-topic, Harvey — but 13 started it!

  14. Etienne Forest says:

    I agree with Diverdarren. It is not fair to accuse Quebec of racism simply because they reject multiculturalism. In that case, most of our immigrants come from extremely racist countries or enclaves. Let us be objective: I am willing to bet 1000$ that a greater percentage of pure laine separatist Quebeckers adopt little Haitians, Chinese girls, etc.. than your Orthodox Jew, your Sikh or your average East Asian immigrant.

    In a traditional society, a foreign practice must first clear a “value” test. If it passes that test, which is certainly exclusive and “racist” from a multicultural point of view, it then goes to a “safety” test.

    If my religion tells me to walk in public on Sunday with my penis dangling out of my pants, it is hard to call Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Saudis, etc… etc… etc… racist because they reject my practice even though it is absolutely safe.

    In the multicultural society the “value” test has been weakened or removed. Moreover, in the long run, the values of the natives are gone. So it becomes hard to blame the immigrant for keeping his own. Quebec is NO longer a Catholic society. It is a society where, as in Europe, you can find people copulating in the park as a Muslim complained on Radio-Canada. How can you blame this guy for staying “Moroccan” at heart and grounding his 12 years old daughter after 7pm?

    The only way multiculturalism can work is by weakening the values of the natives at the expense of the immigrants simply because the natives are the majority and they will otherwise crush/assimilate the immigrants. All multicultural countries have become countries with weakening cultures. In the UK they even fear teaching evolution in high schools. In Quebec and Japan, thanks to a rejection of multiculturalism, it is compulsory. We should not give one inch, sorry one millimetre, to religious superstitions when it threatens Western science and reason. They are the foundation of our cultures and our states.

    Now, having said that, I would also claim that the little piece of cloth on top of a kid’s head (not a full turban), is no skin of the back of a Japanese or even a supernationalist/racist/catholic Quebecker. So I am on Harv’s side but for different reasons.

  15. Larry Bennett says:

    Stephen Forest in right about Catholicism in many, (mostly urban) areas of Quebec. Many see it (and the crucifix in their legislature) as merely, traditional. Sad, really. The “dangling penis” symbolism failed to inspire though, except where we could point out that most small towns in many middle-eastern countries have a local whore house that is well attended. Also, famed orientalist, Edward Said wrote that the east is a “living tableau of queerness”. That said, I can sympathize with what many new Canadians find shocking in the behaviour of the citizenry, as a whole.

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