Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
Opinion

Does ‘institutionalized exclusion’ lead to radicalization?

By Phil Gurski      

It is only through multicultural and multi-faith dialogue that we will make progress on living together. Let’s not make things worse.

On Oct. 20, 2014, a Muslim convert ran over two members of the Canadian Armed Forces outside Montreal, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, pictured. The creation of the Montreal-based Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence was affected in part in response to concerns over this phenomenon in the province.Terrorism is a small, but real, phenomenon in Quebec, writes Phil Gurski. Photograph courtesy of Department of National Defence
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

OTTAWA—Quebec is a very interesting province for many reasons, not least of which is the tremendous change in the role of religion over time. It is no exaggeration to state that the Catholic church ruled the roost for centuries, telling Quebecers how to live, how to procreate, and who to vote for. This dominance came crashing down in the wake of the Quiet Revolution, a period beginning in the 1960s that was characterized by socio-political and socio-economic change and a sharp veering toward secularization. Never again would the church be the predominant arbiter over the province’s inhabitants.

The Quiet Revolution may be over, but the debate over religion sure isn’t. We saw the niqab debate during the previous federal election, the “reasonable accommodation” furor, and the attempt to ban overt signs of religion in public. It is almost as if Quebecers have swung from stifling religious stricture to equally stifling anti-religious stricture.

In the meantime, an alarming number of Quebec Muslims have radicalized to violence and travelled to Syria to join terrorist groups like the Islamic State. We must not forget as well the terrorist attack on Oct. 20, 2014, when Muslim convert Martin Couture-Rouleau ran over two members of the Canadian Armed Forces outside Montreal, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. The creation of the Montreal-based Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence was affected in part in response to concerns over this phenomenon in the province. Terrorism is a small, but real, phenomenon in Quebec.

Not surprisingly, yet another “controversy” involving religion has come to the fore. There are allegations that Quebec municipalities are using bylaws to restrict worship, sometimes in response to popular fears of minority communities (read: Muslims, although Hassidic Jews, evangelical Christians, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have also been affected). The co-president of the Association of Muslims and Arabs for a Secular Quebec, Haroun Bouazzi, has stated that this “institutionalized exclusion” can lead in extreme cases to the radicalization of Muslim youth.

Really? An inflammatory comment of that nature really needs to be backed up with some reliable evidence, which is lacking, as I hope to show.

But first, can’t all the interested parties act as adults? Do we always have to lower ourselves to raw emotion and irrational fears? Yes, the Muslims and the Jehovahs and the Hassidic Jews and the evangelicals are different but none pose any threat to Quebec or Canadian society. Why can’t they all sit down and be reasonable? Is it that hard?

Getting back to the allegations that this kind of state intolerance leads to radicalization, there is nothing I am aware of that supports this contention. Radicalization to violence is a highly individualized process that is found across ethnic, socio-economic, psychological, and cultural boundaries. So while having the feeling that you and your faith community aren’t welcome or aren’t seen as part of larger society can indeed lead to thoughts of alienation, there is absolutely no correlation—let alone causation—between this and radicalization. If you are convinced otherwise, show me your data.

Unscientific and emotional statements such as those of Bouazzi serve little but to raise anger and incite distrust. It is best to stick to facts when talking about terrorism and not throw out causes with no backing or support. This issue is already poorly understood enough and over-sensationalized in the media. We must be rational and careful about this. Ignorance and discrimination may not be helpful, but at the same time they are not surefire recipes for terrorism.

When it comes to religion, Quebecers should park the fear-mongering and start talking. For it is only through multicultural and multi-faith dialogue that we will make progress on living together. Let’s not make things worse.

Phil Gurski is president and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting. 

The Hill Times

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Nearly 100 new MPs offer new face of Parliament, including 60 in flipped seats

In many ways the incoming Parliament looks quite similar to its predecessor, with 240 returning MPs, the same number of MPs who are Indigenous or a visible minority, and 10 more women.

Rise of advance voting raising questions about impact on, and of, campaigns: experts

Almost 4.8-million Canadians voted at advance polls this year, according to Elections Canada estimates, a roughly 30.6 per cent increase over 2015, accounting for roughly one-quarter of all ballots cast this election.

Watchdog’s proposed minority Parliament rules an affront to confidence convention, says legal expert

News|By Mike Lapointe
Democracy Watch says Governor General should speak with all party leaders before deciding who can try forming government, but Emmett Macfarlane says the confidence convention is the linchpin of the parliamentary system.

McKenna may be moved to new cabinet role after four years implementing Grits’ climate policies, say politicos

News|By Neil Moss
Catherine McKenna's 'tenure in environment would have prepared her well for any other kind of responsibility the prime minister may assign,' says former environment minister Jean Charest.

‘They went with what they knew’: Politicos react to Election 43

'If anybody should've won a majority, it should've been Trudeau. He didn't, and it's his to wear,' says CBC columnist Neil Macdonald of the Oct. 21 election results.

‘A clear mandate’: Trudeau wins second term, with voters handing Liberals a minority

News|By Beatrice Paez
Though not improbable, his victory was not inevitable. It brings an end to a nail-biting, gruelling 40-day slog that has exposed deepening rifts across the country.

McKenna wins re-election in Ottawa Centre, trumpets voters’ support for climate fight

News|By Neil Moss
'I’m so relieved,' Catherine McKenna said, about continuing with the Liberal climate change plan.

Election 2019 was a ‘campaign of fear,’ say pollsters

'There may well be a message to this to the main parties, that slagging each other will only take you so far,' says Greg Lyle.

Election 2019 campaign one of the most ‘uninspiring, disheartening, and dirtiest’ in 40 years, says Savoie

News|By Abbas Rana
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she has never seen an election where mudslinging overwhelmingly dominated the campaign, leaving little or no time for policy discussion.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.