[lg policy] CAQ seeks to expel immigrants who fail ‘Quebec values’ test

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed May 16 10:47:50 EDT 2018

 CAQ seeks to expel immigrants who fail ‘Quebec values’ test
Les Perreaux <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/les-perreaux/>
Published May 15, 2018 Updated 12 hours ago

The party leading the race to form Quebec’s next government is doubling
down on a controversial policy that would test immigrants for Quebec values
before allowing them to stay in the province permanently.

The Coalition Avenir Québec also now says it would rely on Ottawa’s
co-operation to expel or relocate undesirable immigrants to ensure
compliance with the policy. However, the federal government seems unlikely
to support the plan.

Quebec’s next provincial election is fixed for Oct. 1 and the CAQ under
François Legault has led the Quebec Liberals under Philippe Couillard in
numerous polls since last fall. With issues that usually dominate elections
on the backburner – public finances are in order, the economy is growing
robustly and the issue of Quebec independence is dormant – the main parties
are staking out positions as protectors of “Quebec values” in advance of
the vote.

The right-leaning CAQ, which is trying to position itself as the protector
of the French language and secular values, is taking a harder line on
immigration than other parties.

The immigration platform − first leaked this week to news magazine
l’Actualité − confirms Mr. Legault’s promise to test Quebec values and
French language comprehension and adds a requirement that immigrants find
work or document their hunt for it. The values tested would include respect
for diversity, democracy and secular government among other values the
party considers core to Quebec identity.

Immigrants would have to pass the values, language and employment test
within four years to receive a Quebec selection certificate – a document
that is the first step to gaining permanent residence in the province under
the immigration program it shares with Ottawa. Those who flunk would be
handed off to Ottawa for relocation or expulsion under the CAQ proposal.

Under the agreement with Quebec, the province selects most non-refugee
immigrants while Ottawa is in charge of establishing if they’re admissible
to Canada. It’s not clear how the CAQ plan would work under that division
of labour. Justin Trudeau’s government did not rush to embrace the CAQ
plan, instead lauding the important role immigration plays in growing the
economy amid labour shortages and an aging population.

Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, said the
minister is “aware of recent reports of the CAQ immigration proposals, and
we continue to follow the file closely.‎”

The CAQ plan would also cut Quebec’s immigration quota by 20 per cent, to
40,000 new arrivals per year.

Quebec’s Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard called the CAQ plan a product
of muddled thinking that barely merits being called a rough draft. The
Liberals have taken a more inclusive stand, saying tests send the wrong
message and that immigration is vital in a province with slow population

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“Their platform is not even applicable, it’s riddled with errors. But the
biggest issue is the plan approaches immigration as a problem that needs to
be solved when it’s an incredible opportunity,” Mr Couillard said. “Mr.
Legault needs to stop hiding and start explaining how his plan would work.”

Mr. Legault wasn’t available for comment Tuesday but the CAQ critic on the
immigration file, Nathalie Roy, confirmed the outlines of the plan to
reporters in Quebec City and insisted it’s always been Ottawa’s job to
deport unqualified immigrants.

In a statement issued later, she said the unemployment rate of immigrants
is double that of citizens, many fail to learn French and one quarter of
them leave the province. “Our goal is to ensure when they get settled here
permanently is to make sure they speak French, adhere to our values and
want to work,” she said.

She said Mr. Couillard is the one with muddled thinking, saying he “wants
to sweep the problem under the rug.”

Paradoxically, Mr. Legault’s party has advocated dropping French-language
requirements for new immigrants to favour technical and professional skills
the province lacks with its low unemployment and growing economy. Under the
party’s plan, a CAQ government would boost funding for training that would
include paying people to take language courses.

The Parti Québécois – languishing in distant third place in recent polls –
would beef up language requirements for immigrants while eschewing tests or
deportations. “The CAQ is proposing things that will not happen, cannot
happen and couldn’t ever be applied,” Leader Jean-François Lisée said.
“They’re putting up a smokescreen for voters.
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More on this story
Globe editorial: The Quebec election is coming. So are the identity politics
Quebec's Coalition party riding high in polls but last in political
François Legault and CAQ trying to be 'more pragmatic than left or right'
as Quebec election looms


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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