The city of Gatineau, Quebec may have put its foot in its mouth.
Situated in the National Capital Region near Ottawa, the city recently released a 16-point guide dubbed a "statement of values" targeted at new immigrants.
According to The Globe and Mail
, the document covers a range of topics, including “bribing officials, killing people for honor [and] … cooking smelly foods."
Critics are accusing Gatineau of treating recent immigrants "like they came out of a cave,” reports the Globe
The issue is stirring particular controversy in Quebec. Several years ago, the small town of Herouxville (where there are almost no immigrants) put out a similar guide that banned stonings and sparked a massive debate about the reasonable accommodation of immigrants to Quebec.
Gatineau, though, is not a tiny town with a homogenous population. It consists of a large number of people from other parts of the world, many of whom work in the capitol of Ottawa.
Officials in Gatineau are attempting to downplay the incident.
Mireille Apollon, an immigrant from Haiti who is also Gatineau's councilor for cultural diversity, told the Globe
, “We are basically saying: Thank you for coming to Gatineau, we’re very happy you’re here, and this is how things work.”
However, tension between preserving the cultural integrity of North America's largest majority-French territory and welcoming newcomers remains a balancing act for officials, and a political hot potato—both of which create fertile ground for PR messes.
Jackson Wightman is a
PR Daily contributor based in Montreal.