Gatineau values guide complaint sparks immigrant probe
CBC News obtained leaked emails about city investigation
A Moroccan immigrant living in Gatineau, Que., was mistakenly included in an email chain that revealed city officials investigated him after he made a complaint about a new values guide.
Kamal Maghri first wrote an email to the City of Gatineau Dec. 10 saying he would file a formal complaint regarding the "statement of values" released Nov. 28.
Maghri said in his email he planned to hire a lawyer to challenge the constitutionality of the values guide, which he said affects his rights and dignity.
"It was very condescending," Maghri told the CBC's David Gerow, "It was patronizing against new immigrants. So I said that's my duty as a citizen of Gatineau to send a message and complain."
Two days after his complaint, Maghri received an email addressed to the mayor and other senior Gatineau officials.
Email details personal debt, mentions Sept. 11
It detailed a list of personal and financial information the city dug up on Maghri, which he believed was done after he complained about the values guide.
Is Gatineau's 'statement of values' guide useful or offensive? Have your say.
CBC News obtained the chain of emails, which ended with a message from cultural diversity coordinator Annie-Claude Scholtès and written in French.
Her email details how Maghri was probably a man of Moroccan origin who came to Canada about ten years ago, just before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The email from Scholtès also described how Maghri accumulated more than $40,000 in debt and had trouble finding a job in Montreal and Calgary before moving to Gatineau.
"It's very shocking, the email," he said, "I was shocked about the statement of values, but [the patronizing] keeps coming."
Gatineau mayor officially apologizes
Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau did officially apologize to Maghri at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. But one privacy expert said the city went too far and he is surprised it would jump to an investigation so quickly.
"The intention of the [values guide] was to inform new Canadians that we live in a democracy," said Steven Staples, president of the Rideau Institute, "But I think they should be handing out copies to the bureaucrats at city hall because I think they think we live in a country like Iran, to be doing this kind of thing."
The city's 16-point values guide aims to help newcomers integrate into local society and learn how to interact in a new environment. It spells out basic information, suggesting people should try to limit cooking "smelly foods" and refrain from bribing city officials.
Maghri argues immigrants come to Canada with a plan to integrate and do not need pointers on bribes.