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A rural Quebec town has taken the unusual step of formally declaring that it is forbidden to stone women in public - part of a list of "norms" that it says is aimed at potential immigrants.

Herouxville, about 165 kilometres northeast of Montreal, passed a document at a town council meeting this month that outlines what it considers to be its official behavioural norms.

The document, sent to both the provincial and federal governments, states that "a woman can. . . drive a car, sign cheques, dance, decide on her own."

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However, covering one's face other than on Halloween, burning women alive or burning them with acid is not considered acceptable.

The document also points out to potential immigrants that Quebeckers are used to receiving medical services from members of the opposite sex and that boy and girls often swim in the same pool.

"Don't be surprised," the document reads. "For us, it's normal."

Andre Drouin, who spearheaded the move to list norms, said the document was a response to what some perceive to be excessive accommodation newcomers to the province receive.

"We have to ensure that people who come here want to live like us," Mr. Drouin told Montreal's La Presse newspaper. "The Muslims that want to impose Shariah (law), if they realized that here we don't stone women, they would never have come."

Debate has raged in Quebec in recent week about what is considered reasonable accommodation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities.

Herouxville does not currently have any immigrants among its population of 1,300.

But Mr. Drouin said that could change given the Quebec government's policy of encouraging newcomers to the province to settle outside urban centres.

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