[lg policy] CAQ: Deport immigrants who can’t speak French

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Sep 12 10:51:30 EDT 2018

 CAQ: Deport immigrants who can’t speak FrenchIdentity politics and
policies of social engineering around the language question are
unsurprisingly at play in the Quebec provincial election campaign.
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Identity politics and policies of social engineering around the language
question are unsurprisingly at play in the Quebec provincial election

The perennial and divisive question of french language rights was brought
back into electioneering discourse last week starting with the CAQ’s
proposal to expel new immigrants
to the province if they have failed to achieve an adequate level of French
after three years. François Legault, whose party is leading in the latest
polls cited the fact that more than half of the 50,000 immigrants arriving
in the province annually do not speak French, and warned that the french
language is at risk of gradually disappearing in the province.

The choice by Legault and the CAQ to more intimately tie together the
issues of immigration and french language policy is likely a move to
appease nationalist elements not only within his own base, but also that of
the Parti Quebecois (PQ). Legault appealed directly to PQ supporters
last week, asking for their support in strategic ridings in order to ensure
the defeat of the Liberals led by Philippe Couillard. To this constituency
Legault said, “You have a choice between voting for a party that is at its
knees before the federal (government), or a nationalist party that is going
to defend Quebec. That’s the CAQ.”

The PQ has responded, jumping into the immigration debate. After previously
refusing to propose a precise number of immigrants that they would welcome
to the province each year, the nationalist party has now set a target of
28,000-40,000 annually. Party leader Jean-Fran
Lisée blasted Legault’s immigration plan
saying, “Allowing the entry of 40,000 immigrants each year without
requiring even the most basic level of French will provoke an acceleration
of the decline of our language. It’s dangerous.”

In an attempt to one-up the CAQ on the language question, the PQ is also
proposing new requirements for anglophones already living in the province.
Their proposal would force anglophone post-secondary students
to complete at least one academic session at a francophone institution, or
be refused their college-level certificate at anglophone Cégeps. The
proposal, being sold as *Law 202*, is a throwback to the flagship language
policies, *Law 101*
<https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/bill-101>, introduced in
the 70s by PQ royalty, René Lévesque.

For his part, Liberal leader Philippe Couillard is defending the
maintenance of the status quo on immigration. His government has gone the
other way on immigration and language policy, introducing a new program
before the election, relax
french language requirements
for a select group of immigrant entrepreneurs. The liberal stance on
immigration focuses on the economic needs of the province. Couillard argued
that about half the jobs in the province in recent years have been filled
by immigrants. In response to PQ and CAQ fears of language loss tied to the
immigration issue, he said
“Immigrants are learning French, and you know where they learn it best? At

The next government of Quebec will be chosen by voters on October 1


 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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