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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Salut Pauline! Loving my adopted province!

Last week, Montreal Birth Companions assisted a woman to give birth. Her hospital stay was very long and she finally left with a bill of over $20,000.

She was one of the many women MBC assists who do not have medical coverage here, who give birth in our hospitals at great cost. Some of these women are domestics who have been fired by their employers. Some are women who are here on the wrong kind of visa to be pregnant (hey, Harper! I thought you were against abortion!). Some are here illegally because they are afraid of harm or death in their home countries, but they do not qualify as refugees.

This woman was the kind of Muslim that Madame Marois wants: modern, educated, no head scarf. Her reasons for fleeing her country were valid and I will not explain more. She was taken in by an elderly Anglophone woman until the baby was born.

She needed a place to live, so we finally found her somewhere to stay until she gets on her feet. She is employable and will be fine.

But - her birth and postpartum search for housing was such a typical Quebecois event! The new mother was a Muslim. She wears western clothing and no head scarf. She was taken in by a Quebecois Anglophone, who is very old and appeared to wear a dressing gown. Her doula was a Quebecois Francophone who is a political activist. She rides her bicycle most days and has a couple of piercings. Her second doula was also Quebecois, who is a member of the Canadian army. The mentor doula is a Jewish woman whose politics veer from left to anarchist. She wears a headscarf. The shelter where she finally found refuge is run by a Muslim woman from Malaysia who regularly provides food for one hundred people at a nearby church. She wears a hijab and a floor length gown. The journalist who was interested in the story is a member of a visible minority. We all spoke different languages: French, English, Arabic, Bahasa Malaysia, Italian... and probably more...

We are united by love and goodwill, and by the urge to change this world for the better. Some of us wear head coverings, some of us don't. Some of us believe in God, some might not. But this Quebec is the place I like living - where we all get by and get along, sometimes speaking in broken this or that, trying to get along because we believe that getting along is a good thing. It's the place I brought my kids so they would get an education, and they are getting an education, and they speak several languages, including the language of tolerance.

So, Pauline, even though you have a bunch of liberal feminists on your side, and some aging would-be politicians, I would like you to come and visit our Quebec: the Quebec where we help people who don't necessarily believe in the same things we believe in, or speak the same language as we do, or wear the same clothes as we do. And I would like to remind you that while you are doing your politics, babies are being born and friends are being made and bonds are being formed across all of your artificially constructed boundaries.

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