Course à pieds vs Hassidic Processions – Double Standards in Outremont?
Lire cet article en français "La course à pieds vs les processions hassidiques – Deux poids, deux mesures dans Outremont?"
Picture this: La foulée des parcs applies for a permit at the Outremont borough council to conduct its annual Course à pieds on the streets of Outremont. Because streets will be closed and parking banned, the race will cause burdensome disruptions for residents. At the Outremont borough council the request for the Course is debated.
“We have by-laws that must be respected by everyone,” declares Councilor Celine Forget.
“We cannot disrupt the lives thousands of people who are not part of the race,” says Mayor Cinq-Mars.
“Enough! We cannot allow preferential treatment for specific groups. This opens the floodgates for any other ‘group’ to make such requests,” says Councillor Marie Potvin.
At the public council meeting, three Hassidim speak against this “unreasonable accommodation,” calling the event a “public nuisance.” As predicted, the Outremont Borough council rejects the request and denies the La foulée des parcs a permit.
An outcry follows in the media: “Outremont politicians intolerant of local cultural events.” As for local citizens, they are outraged that the race has been cancelled. “We are the citizens of Outremont,” they insist. “How can a handful of Hassidim dictate our activities and call us a public nuisance?”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is simply a light hearted reverse-case scenario in the hopes that you might be able to put yourselves in our shoes. Sometimes events arise that give us the opportunity to see things from a slightly different perspective.
Replace the La foulée des parcs with the Hassidic community. Replace the course à pieds with a Hassidic procession. Replace the handful of Hassidic complainers with the same people who show up at the borough council meetings month after month to oppose the Hassidim. Imagine this scenario repeated year after year, month after month, with the target of indignation always being Hassidic activities. This is how we experience living in Outremont.
Unfortunately the above quotes from the politicians are real and were actually said at Outremont’s borough council meetings. Not in regards of the course à pieds, of course, but regarding Hassidic cultural events.
Some recent examples:
In 2012, a new by-law was enacted perfectly tailored to stifle the (infrequent) Hassidic Torah processions.
In 2012, borough officials abruptly decided to discontinue parking arrangements for Jewish holidays on the mainly Hassidic streets – arrangements that were in place for over 20 years.
- Our holiday parking arrangements does not disrupt or restrict parking for local residents; in fact, it actually makes life easier for locals as MORE parking spots are made available to ALL citizens.
- Our processions do not require the ANY restrictions of parking for the local residents, not for 12 hours (as Sunday’s race did), not even one hour.
- Our cultural events do not require taxpayer’s dollars to be spent in preparation; we do not need hundreds of barricades, special signs to be printed, municipal support, etc.
- Our processions and the holiday parking arrangements are on streets where the majority of residents are Hassidic. We do not need to be accommodated by the public because we are the public on those streets.
We gladly welcome the races – and all cultural events with the disruptions that accompany them. We all live together in this beautiful borough, we respect everybody’s right for open and free expression, and we believe in the notion of “live and let live.”
All we ask is for the same respect that is accorded to our friends and neighbours.