The Referendum: Yes side gets foothold in Muslim community
Author: Philip Authier
Source: The Gazette (M
Original title: The Referendum: Yes side gets foothold in Muslim community: Bouchard courts woman supporters
The Yes side got a show of support last night from several Muslim community leaders who said they don’t fear Quebec sovereignty or believe it would affect their status as a minority.
But the community was not unanimous and what was supposed to be a show of unity was marred when several representatives argued openly about Quebec’s future after Bloc Quebecois leader Lucien Bouchard had left the room.
Several approached reporters after a rally at a downtown hotel insisting the community is not united. During the rally, which drew 500 people, federalists heckled the guest table from the back.
“We have the right to say No,” one man shouted, leaping to his feet. “Yes to Canada!”
Hassan Guillet, an engineer who challenged the leaders, said they “wanted to make this look like it was a partisan meeting and the Muslim community is 100-per-cent behind the Yes vote.
“We are not. I don’t pretend that 100 per cent of us are with the No campaign. We are a community like every other community in Quebec. We are divided.”
But the meeting still was something of a breakthrough for sovereignists because it was one of the first open displays of support from allophone voters in the campaign.
A Leger & Leger poll yesterday indicated that 82.7 per cent of Quebec’s non-francophone population plans to vote No.
Bouchard described yesterday’s meeting as historic and said he was moved and proud to have attended.
“Your leaders have said that they don’t represent everyone,” Bouchard said. “We have noted that. We know this isn’t a partisan crowd. But what we need to underline is that a democratic process is under way, a reflection. I’d say there is something like a maturity of relations emerging in Quebec’s collective life and you are a magnificent symbol.”
Deputy Premier Bernard Landry told the Muslims they are “the proof the expression pure laine belongs to the textile industry and not to Quebec sociology.”
Bouchard’s meeting ended a day in which the Yes side also moved to shore up support among woman.
At an afternoon rally in Anjou, Bouchard argued that constitutional squabbling has prevented Quebec from doing more about things like pay equity and women’s rights and that makes raising children harder. He linked the problem to Quebec’s low birth rate.
“It’s complicated, we know,” he said. “Do you think our demographics make sense? Do you think it makes sense that we have so few children in Quebec? We are one of the races of whites with the least children. It doesn’t make sense.”