Monday, March 26, 2007

Interview with Hérouxville's André Drouin [part 1]

Just found this on Youtube.
Back on February 2nd, André Drouin, municipal counselor of Hérouxville, Quebec, and author of the now-famous norms for that small town, appeared on the French Quebec television show "Tout le Monde en Parle" ["Everybody's talking about it"].

What follows is my quick (and hopefully accurate) translation, with occasional holes caused by my trouble with Mr. Drouin's very thick [for me] accent. Any suggestions for improving the translation are welcomed...:


Q: [introduces Mr. Drouin, welcomes him to the show] What prompted you to write up these living norms for Herouxville, were there taliban that were shopping for homes in your neck of the woods? Were there some boat people that floated up the St-Maurice [river]?

Drouin: I like to establish processes that will prevent things from happening in the future.
Where we come from in Herouxville, when someone new arrives, we say to them, greetings sir, greetings madam; processes for welcoming, we call it.
One of our [female] counselors asked, what would happen if new arrivals, new arrivals in the sense of immigrants, coming from another country… She had seen a program about Montreal, about a little girl going to swim in a pool. In Herouxville, we’re a small town, population 1,338, we can’t afford two pools, or three, or four. And [if] the little girl doesn’t want to go swimming, what do we do. Currently there are no Canadian laws that help us in matters such as these. Effectively we have to say “no, you must go swimming, madame. You two Herouxville boys in the pool, get out.” This is what we have to do.

Q: We can understand that there are pitfalls in what is called reasonable accommodations, we can see this in the papers everyday, it’s obvious that Quebec’s population is unhappy about this. But, why does it concern you to this extent, in Herouxville?

(2:05) Drouin: At the present time, we’ve been told, and I’ve verified this with the minister of immigration, both Canadian and Quebecois, they are increasingly encouraging immigrants to leave the large cities, it sounded obvious that there would soon be some coming to us.

Q: But you only see the negative about immigration, or what? There are lots of benefits from the cultures, lots of good things, the food that they introduce to us, the clothing, the fashions…

Drouin: [I can’t quite penetrate the accent, but he makes a joke about eating a kind of spicy cookie from a neighboring bakery]…These kinds of people we welcome! It’s written in the document on the municipality’s website, we *want* to welcome you.

(2:58) Q: in the 5-page document listing your norms for living which was unanimously adopted in January, the council considers as outside the norms: stoning women in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them, etc.

other Q: [interrupts] Will you be putting up signs around the town? I can’t wait to see the one on circumcision…

Drouin: [hearty laugh]

Q: Stoning women to death is murder, and that is already in the criminal code. Why did you insist on this, did you feel [the criminal code] was insufficient?

Drouin: We described our norms for living. We were trying to stop… not knowing what’s happening every place around the world, what was of interest to me were the citizens of Herouxville. I was elected by them. I refer to them as my people, as a matter of fact they know me for this….

Q: [interrupts] You, you’re the municipal counselor, you’re not the mayor..
[quick joke about becoming mayor]

Drouin: … no no, I don’t have any political ambition, we don’t represent any religion; I did get some offers to go into politics, I told them “don’t even think about it”.

(4:17) Q: you also say in your statement that people must always reveal their faces in public in order to assist in identifying them. The only exception to this would take place on Hallowe’en. So, mascots do not have the right to circulate in Herouxville…
[audience laughs]

Drouin: If they are wandering in the street, there’s no problem. Banks, we only have one in Herouxville. And I’m not sure if it will still be there for much longer.
If someone comes to our town, and I won’t speak of a woman who is veiled, but a man who says, I’m going to the bank, where there’s a female cashier, and the man says, can you wear a veil. We’re not used to that. What we want is for those coming to our town to be informed in advance of this. We’re asking the minister of immigration of Quebec, of Canada, about this, to please, what we’re asking for is not complicated; to give this to, I don’t know what country, for when they decide to come to Herouxville, they’ll say, “well just where is this Herouxville?

Q: We had been asking ourselves the same thing… [big laugh from the audience]

Drouin: Starting from there, gentlemen, it was the simplest thing I have ever done in my life. The most innocent process I’ve ever undertaken in my life.

Q: Well those who agree with you think it’s an innocent gesture, and those who are not in agreement with you, also.

Drouin: I was told this morning in the car that 95% of the people of Quebec are 100% in agreement.

Q: [incredulous] Where does **that** number come from, 95% of the people...
Other Q:… are 100% in agreement..?!?

Drouin: [embarrassed] He saw it on television.

Q: Just what television station do you watch, anyway?

Drouin: It was Mr. Thomson [?] who told me that in the car this morning.

Q: [sarcastically] oh, okay then, you have good sources.

(6:17) Q: On families, you said: if children, to serve as one example, eat meat from a cow, they won’t try to find out where the cow came from, who slaughtered it, where, in what manner, on which day. In our families, what is devoured through the mouth serves to nourish the body, the soul is nourished through other ways.
These clauses, is it a polite way to say, jews and muslims, you should not be coming to Herouxville?

(6:39) Drouin: Honestly, the answer could be yes.
But theoretically I’m not supposed to know **who** is saying that. All I’m saying is, when you’re in your homes, who cares who you are… [exasperated] I can’t believe it, I’ve repeated this two thousand times now… when you’re in your own homes, I am telling you, before you come to ours, this is how things are done down our way. I have spent my life doing this, my friend. This is all I’ve ever done in my life. I try to do… but I can’t do it, it’s immigration Canada that does it, it’s not my “shop”. So I asked them, can you do this for me. And I never got an answer.

Q: But now you’ve been overtaken by events..

Drouin: I don’t know if I’ve been overtaken, at least I’m trying to keep up with them.
London calls me, Egypt calls me, China calls me..

Q: Two hours from now, you will be interviewed by China..

Drouin: [greatly surprised] Who told you that?

Q: You did.

Drouin: [embarrassed] Hm, I must have forgotten that.

Q: There you see, you could be a politician.

Drouin: [hearty laugh, audience applauds]
[end of part 1]

[part 2 of the video is here, in case you can't wait for my translation to see how it ends]

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