Thursday, 30 August 2007

What kind of Canada?

There was a very disturbing article (in French) in LaPresse today about a priest come to visit immigrant workers who was chased off the FraiseBec farm in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines by the irate owner, Isabelle Charbonneau.

There are a couple of things very wrong with this picture.

First, immigrant workers are being held in unacceptable conditions. A landlord, as Father Clement Bolduc pointed out very reasonably, has no right to restrict the visitors of tenants. Mme Charbonneau claims she has a "responsibility" to "protect" her workers, who are mostly women. There was nothing in the situation that indicated that these women were in any danger whatsoever. Mme Charbonneau, who was physically present, was well placed to evaluate this herself. She had no legal right to evict the priest.

Second, this eviction was carried out with active help from the Terrebonne police. Since when do the police assist people in asserting authority to which they have no legal right, and which, even worse, is oppressive in nature?

There are too many cases of immigrant workers being exploited and oppressed in Canada. We do not need the police intervening on behalf of those who are taking advantage of them.

FraiseBec is apparently the largest strawberry producer in the country. I do believe I will be keeping an eye out for their produce, so that I can actively avoid it.

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Tully said...

WB! Staying a while?

Janet said...

I am reluctant to commit, because every time I try to, I don't make it. But you never know... We'll see if I can juggle all my balls.

Anonymous said...

So very glad to see new blog entries!!! Maybe Mme Charbonneau has some sort of Captain Queeg complex and is worried that her workers will mutiny??? (Ah, but the strawberries??)

Janet said...

Thanks Anonymous. I'll try to reappear a little more regularly.

The way some immigrant workers - or perhaps more properly, migrant workers - are treated in Canada is part of this country's dark side. It rarely gets major media attention. These people have no vote, often don't speak English or French, and have no idea of their rights. Unscrupulous employers will often do worse than forbid outside visitors. Fortunately, Amnesty International and la fédération des femmes du Québec (the Quebec Federation of Women) are now taking an active interest in the doings at FraiseBec, so a little light should be shed on the situation.


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