Being a little bit racist is like being a little bit pregnant. This survey has the merit of putting numbers to what many members of visible minorities feel. In 2003, journalist Stephane Alarie performed an experiment in which he used makeup to live in the skin of a black man for seven days. It gave him the opportunity to experience the kind of racism that, in polite people, shows in distrust and an awkward - though not malicious - way of saying the wrong thing. Taken to the extreme, it gives you people like Dr. Mailloux, Jeff Fillion or André Arthur. It is simply not acceptable to consider their overtly racist speech as a basis for healthy discussion or as representative of freedom of expression.
Administering the survey by Internet assured the respondents of remaining anonymous and avoiding judgement. Admitting their racism should be seen as a sign of progress. Once a problem is out in the open, it is much easier to work at solving it. Putting our heads in the sand and saying 'Quebeckers are not racist', even in the face of the many anecdotes and studies that show the contrary, does not make us aware of the difficulties that a growing proportion of the population faces every day, at every level (employment, housing, criminalization, etc.). The purpose of the survey was not to educate the public but to provide a picture of the situation - it is up to us to use the results.
The fear of negative repercussions from these results is real and likely to be proven accurate, but it does not change the reality. The people of Canada have a choice: they can react negatively or take the bull by the horns. The Government of Quebec, in choosing to develop A Government Policy to Fight Against Racism and Discrimination - For the Full Participation of Quebecers from Cultural Communities, has shown clearly where it stands. This initiative demonstrates an openness and willingness to address the issues without shying away from words like Racism and Prejudice. It is no longer a question of tolerance, but one of fairness and respect.