[lg policy] Quebec relaxes French language requirements for high tech immigrant entrepreneurs

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon Sep 3 12:22:20 EDT 2018


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Quebec relaxes French language requirements for high tech immigrant
entrepreneursQuebec's Liberal government has relaxed French language
requirements to allow a small number of anglophone startups to set up shop
in the province.
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Thanks to a recent policy change by the Quebec Ministry of Immigration
<https://www.ledevoir.com/economie/533628/immigration-quebec-ouvre-la-porte-aux-entrepreneurs-anglophones>,
Diversity and Inclusion under the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard,
a small number of entrepreneurs will be allowed to immigrate to the
province, absent a knowledge of the French language.

This marks a departure from the province’s established immigration policy,
requiring a knowledge of French. The new policy that took effect on August
2 will allow entrepreneurs launching high tech startups to set up shop in
Quebec, satisfying only an English language requirement.
Anglophone entrepreneurs bring economic benefits

It’s an initiative that is being praised for the economic benefits that it
could bring to Quebec. While the *startup visa *class will bring only 25
entrepreneurs to the province, its proponents stress the fact that the
success of even one startup couldr esult in the creation of hundreds or
thousands of high tech jobs in a metropolitan area like Montréal.

A recognition of potential economic benefits that could come with a
relaxing of language requirements associated with Quebec’s immigration
policy must also admit to a certain extent how the current policy favouring
French over English turns away a large number of not only high tech
entrepreneurs, but all sorts of qualified immigrants for no other reason
than that they don’t speak French. These immigrants – job creators and
potential taxpayers – are, as a result, lost to other provinces and other
countries.
Quebec sets its own immigration policies

Quebec operates under an immigration system that is distinct from that of
other Canadian provinces. The immigration dossier remains a shared
jurisdiction between the federal and provincial governments, but following
a series of agreements signed with the federal government since the 1960s,
Quebec has gained the power to determine certain immigration criteria,
including linguistic requirements. The federal government maintains
responsibility for setting the number of immigrants admitted into the
country each year, and takes into consideration the number of immigrants
Quebec wants to accept, as well as the admission criteria set by the
province.
Election posturing?

The announcement of this change in Quebec’s immigration policy comes only
two months ahead of a provincial election this October
<https://www.thepostmillennial.com/quebec-premier-couillard-confirms-launch-date-for-election-campaign/>.
Some have criticized the move as being nothing more than a symbolic act
meant to attract the support of English speaking voters and other Quebecois
opposed to strict regulation of language use.

Defenders of French language requirements for immigrants to Quebec argue
that such a policy is necessary in order to ensure a well-integrated
society. A debate on this subject has been recently renewed in the public
discourse following comments made by Maxime Bernier about multiculturalism
<https://www.thepostmillennial.com/mad-maxime-bernier-facing-scrutiny-over-tweets-on-excessive-multiculturalism/>.
It’s a debate that leads us to pose some sincere questions.
By which criteria should we determine the admissibility of immigrants to a
society?

Mr. Bernier suggests that new immigrants should share – or at least not
reject – certain fundamental cultural values of the host society. Could it
be said that language constitutes a fundamental value of a society? What
about style of dress, music or literature?As observed by Jordan Peterson
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UVUnUnWfHI&feature=youtu.be&t=472>, when
we subscribe to identity politics and the doctrine of *intersectionality*,
it becomes impossible to parse out where one group identity ends and
another begins.
What constitutes a society that should have the right to set is own
criteria for admission?

If, as suggested by the federalist Member of Parliament from Beauce, a
society should define certain core values and require new members to accept
said values, does this principle apply just as much to Quebec society as it
does to greater Canadian society? After all, it was the Harper
Conservatives that recognized Quebec as a distinct nation
<https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/house-passes-motion-recognizing-quebecois-as-nation-1.574359>
within a united Canada in 2006.
What about big cities with political cultures that differ significantly
from that of the rest of their province?

Following the victory of Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party
in Ontario this year, we heard calls for a more independent, or even
sovereign Toronto
<https://www.blogto.com/city/2018/07/toronto-might-secede-ontario-and-become-its-own-province/>.
We’ve seen a similar phenomenon in the United States, where some mayors
have declared their jurisdictions sanctuary cities in response to
enforcement of federal immigration laws. Why not allow provincial
governments, or big cities to set their own immigration policies?
A decentralized approach to immigration

Perhaps the most favourable approach to the questions of cultural values,
multiculturali

 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
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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