Debate over religious rights continues in Quebec
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Monday, March 19, 2007 6:50PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 5:54PM EDT
The debate over accommodating religious minorities in Quebec continued Monday with controversy surrounding a pair of sugar shacks and a YMCA in Montreal.
The Journal de Montreal tabloid on Monday dedicated its front page to expose of a pair of sugar shacks south of Montreal that took efforts to allow Muslims to enjoy the annual spring maple syrup tradition known as "sugaring off."
One sugar shack, or a cabane � sucre, removed pork from some of its food to meet the dietary requirements under Islam.
Sugar shacks are known for serving a fatty feast of pork -- forbidden in the diet of devout Muslims -- along with beans, pea soup, pancakes and generous servings of maple syrup.
"Pea soup without ham,'' said one headline in Le Journal.
Another sugar shack paused entertainment recently to allow about 20 Muslims to pray on the empty dance floor.
Some patrons and a performer at one of the sugar shacks voiced their concerns.
"I think it's not the place to do it," country singer Sylvain Boily, who was forced to pause for 10-minutes during his afternoon show, told CTV Montreal. "(Muslims) have to accept the way in Quebecois to have their fun."
Luc Gladu, the co-owner of sugar shack l'Erabliere au sous-bois, said he did what he could to accommodate the Muslim group and said he was surprised to see the prayer making news.
"They wanted to make a prayer. If the dance room will be full and everybody is dancing we wouldn't stop," he told CTV Montreal. "But nobody (was) dancing. Ten minutes in the cabane a sucre is not long."
But these allowances have sparked some debate in the province. Hermine Bourdeau-Ouimet, a spokesperson for the association of sugar shacks, called it "unreasonable" to accommodate people who want to pray in sugar shacks.
Gladu said he was disappointed in the reaction, and that in the future he would allow Muslims pray in a private room.
The debate on accommodating religious minorities in Quebec continued on other fronts.
A Montreal YMCA says it will remove the frosted glass it installed to protect the innocent eyes of young Orthodox Jews from spandex-clad exercisers.
The glass will be replaced with clear windows and blinds that can be closed or opened at the request of YMCA members, restoring the view from the exercise room to what it was before the frosted glass was installed.
The view was obscured with the opaque glass last fall at the request of a synagogue across the alley where some young male students found the state of undress of some exercisers to be a distraction.
Some Y members had also complained about people peeping in on them when the windows didn't have frosted glass.
The glass quickly became a flashpoint in an ongoing debate in Quebec over how far public institutions should go to adapt to the needs of religious minorities.
"It was never our intention to hide women who are training,'' said Serge St-Andre, director of the Park Avenue YMCA.
"We wanted to protect the privacy of our members while respecting the wishes of our neighbours,'' he said at a news conference Monday.
With reports from CTV Montreal's Tania Krywiak and the Canadian Press