Religion, Culture, and the State: Reflections on the Bouchard-Taylor Report

Religion, Culture, and the State: Reflections on the Bouchard-Taylor Report

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Edited by Howard Adelman and Pierre Anctil
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2011
World Rights
160 Pages
ISBN 9781442611443
Published Apr 2011
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The Canadian principle of reasonable accommodation demands that the cultural majority make certain concessions to the needs of minority groups if these concessions will not cause 'undue hardship.' This principle has caused much debate in Quebec, particularly over issues of language, Muslim head coverings, and religious symbols such as the kirpan (traditional Sikh dagger). In 2007, Quebec Premier Jean Charest commissioned historian and sociologist Gérard Bouchard and philosopher and political scientist Charles Taylor to co-chair a commission that would investigate the limits of reasonable accommodation in that province.

Religion, Culture, and the State addresses reasonable accommodation from legal, political, and anthropological perspectives. Using the 2008 Bouchard-Taylor Report as their point of departure, the contributors contextualize the English and French Canadian experiences of multiculturalism and diversity through socio-historical analysis, political philosophy, and practical comparisons to other jurisdictions. Timely and engaging, Religion, Culture, and the State is a valuable resource in the discussion of religious pluralism in Canadian society.

Howard Adelman is a professor emeritus at York University.

Pierre Anctil is a professor in the Department of History at the University of Ottawa.

Introduction by Pierre Anctil (University of Ottawa)

  1. Reasonable Accommodation in the Context of Canadian Law: A Mechanism for Handling Diversity or a Source of Tension by Pierre Anctil
  2. Monoculturalism versus Interculturalism in a Multicultural World: France and Québec by Howard Adelman (York University)
  3. A Historical Perspective on BT and the Jewish Community of Québec by Ira Robinson (Concordia)
  4. "Qui est nous?": Some Answers from the Bouchard-Taylor Commission's Archive by Bina Toledo Freiwald (Concordia)
  5. Strict and Open Secularism and Neutrality by José Woehrling (Université de Montréal)
  6. Conclusion: Religion, Culture and State by Howard Adelman



Religion, Culture, and the State presents a clear and coherent approach to "reasonable accommodation," secularism, and multiethnic diversity in Québec. It represents a major contribution to research in this area, and is significant for its comparative perspective, as reflected in the interesting connections that the contributors make to liberal and multicultural frameworks in France. The socio-historical and intellectual context that Howard Adelman and Pierre Anctil provide for these debates also makes Religion, Culture, and the State worthwhile reading.

Donna Patrick, Department of Sociology and Anthropology and School of Canadian Studies, Carleton University