Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montreal, January 18, 2012 --- Kamal Maghri, a Gatineau resident since 2010, has filed a race discrimination complaint against the City of Gatineau for adopting and distributing a document for immigrants on values needed to integrate into Quebec society.

Mr. Maghri, a Canadian citizen who is originally from Morocco, mandated CRARR to file a complaint on his behalf against the City, in which he alleges being a victim of discrimination based on ethnic or national origin and race. According to CRARR and Mr. Maghri, the Code of Values, which was adopted last Fall by the City, constitutes a “document involving discrimination” which is in violation of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms because it singles out immigrants and assumes that they do not possess these fundamental values.

By stating that “this reference document is produced with the goal to allow immigrants to understand how to interact in the society in which (they) just joined”, and “…to better understand the system of values in which we evolve”, the City of Gatineau is,

  • Creating, through biased stereotypes that are based on national origin and citizenship status, an artificial distinction between native-born citizens and immigrants, specifically with regards to knowledge of fundamental rules of living and savoir-vivre such as the treatment of women and children; body hygiene; punctuality, respect for private property, etc. and,
  • Circulating incorrect information that is contrary to values and standards of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This information is inconsistent with current social, economic and cultural realities. For instance, the Code makes no reference to the historical presence of Anglophones and First Nations peoples in Quebec and makes no mention of equality rights for people with disabilities and LGBT persons.
  • “This document infantilizes immigrants and perpetuate very negative stereotypes of immigrants, by insinuating that they are ignorant and primitive, and it contributes to discrimination against them in employment and other sectors. It’s revolting!”, said Mr. Maghri.

    “It’s purely a coded anti-immigrant message that is disguised in a sophisticated language about national identity and values. This is unacceptable for a society that needs and that wants to recruit highly trained and entrepeneurial immigrants. A public institution these days cannot practice this form of “Manifest Destiny”, with money from taxpayers and immigrants themselves”, he added.

    In addition, the complaint denounced the practice of ethnic and religious profiling. A city employee had contacted an Islamic center in Gatineau to enquire about Mr. Maghri, and conducted research on the internet regarding his past. She then circulated an email to city officials and included Mr. Maghri by mistake among the list of recipients.

    “Because of my name, they presumed that I am a practising Muslim and stated that I arrived in the country “shortly after 9-11”, said Mr. Maghri. “This manner of inquiring on a citizen is not only anti-democratic and contrary of civic participation standards, which the Code of Values preaches, but also, a very serious intrusion into my private life.”

    CRARR and Mr. Maghri demand

  • the withdrawal of the Code of Values;
  • the adoption of an official declaration of civil rights based on principles from the Charters of Rights and Freedoms;
  • a formal apology to all immigrants, and to Mr. Maghri;
  • a civic education program for all, funded with the same amount of money that the City received from two Quebec government departments, and,
  • moral and punitive damages for Mr. Maghri.
  • “We not only have to remind city administrations, especially those members of the Canadian and International coalitions of cities against racism such as the City of Gatineau, that they have obligations under domestic Charters of Rights and international conventions not to practice or promote discrimination”, stated CRARR’s Executive Director Fo Niemi.

    It is expected that other civil rights complaints from immigrants residing in Gatineau will be filed in the coming days.

    Read the Code of Values (in French only):

    Fichier attachéTaille
    noncé valeurs Gatineau.pdf339.6 Ko