In my opinion:
La Ronde and its parent company Six Flags has helped fan the flames of intolerance and turned their backs on a simple form of reasonable accommodation. Rather than allowing those who are prohibited from eating the food sold on site at La Ronde, the corporation caved in to a deluge of “protests” most of whom, I’ll venture a guess, have never stepped foot in La Ronde.
To be sure, I blame La Ronde’s intolerance squarely on corporate greed. They force everyone to buy their ridiculously expensive, low quality, fast food because, well, because they can.
I would have brought my own sandwiches and healthy snacks even if my family wasn’t Kosher. But seeing as we do keep Kosher am I to pay their expensive entrance fees to be told I must exit their grounds if I want to eat my own food, which I’d have to leave in a stinking hot car? I think not. I’ll show La Ronde and Six Flags what I think about their mean-spirited and greedy decision by spending my amusement dollars where I’m wanted.
National Post | Graeme Hamilton | 13/07/22
For the boys at Camp Gan Israel in the Laurentians, the trip to the La Ronde amusement park in Montreal is one of the highlights of the summer. Because the camp is kosher, and La Ronde does not sell kosher food, the children have always been allowed to bring in their own snacks.
But after a newspaper went undercover last week to reveal that Muslims and Jews with dietary restrictions were exempt from the ban on bringing food into the park, La Ronde announced an end to the religious accommodation Monday.
“After hearing feedback from our guests, La Ronde would like to clarify that only guests with special medical dietary needs will be considered to bring outside food with them as they enter the park,” communications manager Catherine Tremblay said in a statement.
The “feedback” included a 19,000-name Internet petition and a stream of intolerant reader comments on media web sites after the Journal de Montréal broke the news last week. The paper’s reporter had donned a headscarf and received a sticker allowing her to bring her sandwich into the park. “Special privileges for halal and kosher food,” the front-page headline read. “Lunches forbidden at La Ronde except for Jews and Muslims,” the paper reported on its website.
I think that before companies give in to accommodation vigilantism they have to think about the broader ramifications
The uproar over the amusement park’s policy is the latest sign of the resurgence of Quebec’s debate over the reasonable accommodation of religious minorities. It comes as the provincial Parti Québécois government prepares a new charter aimed to protect “Quebec values” against a perceived assault by minority religious groups.
Last month, the Quebec Soccer Federation made international headlines when it ignored the advice of the national federation and barred turban-wearing Sikhs from playing. It reversed the ban after the sport’s international governing body, FIFA, said the head coverings were acceptable.
In May, Quebec’s minister responsible for the planned values charter, Bernard Drainville, denounced a long-standing Montreal policy that allowed observant Jews to avoid parking tickets during high holidays.
Liba Mockin, co-director of Camp Gan Israel in La Minerve, Que., said her camp has always enjoyed a good relationship with La Ronde and she is optimistic a solution can be reached before next year’s visit.
“Everyone needs to eat during the day,” she said. “Because we’re so restricted and it’s not optional — it’s not like we’re deciding on that day whether we’re eating kosher — by telling us we can’t bring kosher food, you’re telling us we can’t eat for the day.”
Officials with La Ronde, which is owned by the American company Six Flags Entertainment Corp., declined interview requests and did not reply to emailed questions about the policy change.
Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, said the backlash over La Ronde’s accommodation is a sign of growing “accommodation vigilantism” in Quebec. “I think that before companies give in to accommodation vigilantism they have to think about the broader ramifications,” he said.
The motivation is much more dangerous than the actual action
Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said La Ronde would not be facing the problem if it made halal and kosher food available in its restaurants.
He said the fact that visitors to La Ronde can eat picnic lunches in a special area outside the park entrance means the end of the accommodation will not bring significant inconvenience. But the message sent is harmful.
“The motivation is much more dangerous than the actual action,” he said.
“I think it is a bit distasteful for them to make this an issue.”
It is reminiscent of the uproar over accommodation practices that led to Quebec’s 2008 Bouchard-Taylor commission. Authors Charles Taylor and Gérard Bouchard concluded that the crisis was largely fuelled by misinformation and blamed journalists for embarking on an ill-informed “accommodation hunt.” (Then as now, the Journal de Montréal led the charge.)
The hunt is back on, and the level of journalistic rigour is scarcely better. Just consider when the Journal decided to undertake its sting — during Ramadan, when most healthy Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. The reporter’s sandwich may have been the only purportedly halal food to pass through La Ronde’s gates that day and for weeks to come.
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