[lg policy] Macpherson: From expelling immigrants to exiling young anglos
haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Sep 15 11:30:18 EDT 2018
Macpherson: From expelling immigrants to exiling young anglos
François Legault and Jean-François Lisée couldn’t wait to show voters who
could be tougher on minorities.
Updated: September 14, 2018
Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée and CAQ leader François Legault
participate in a youth-oriented event in Montreal, Friday, August 17
Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS
The Quebec feminist, television personality and politician Lise Payette,
who died last week, once compared televised election debates to contests
between little boys to see who can pee the farthest.
But in the campaign for the Oct. 1 Quebec election, François Legault and
Jean-François Lisée couldn’t wait until the first debate on Thursday to
show voters who could be tougher on minorities.
Since Lisée’s Parti Québécois is fighting for its survival against
Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec, it was inevitable that the two
nationalist parties would compete over identity.
And with even slight PQ gains threatening a Coalition majority
Legault reached for his “go-back-to-your-country” immigrant-expulsion
Nothing further needs to be said here about the inhumane proposal
itself. But Legault’s timing in pulling it out the day Payette’s death was
announced proved unfortunate for him.
To justify his proposal, Legault said
Quebec is so overrun by immigrants that he was afraid that “our
grandchildren will not speak French.” At a grandfatherly age 61 himself,
Legault should know better.
His hyperbole recalled that Payette had once co-written and narrated an
alarmist anti-immigrant documentary, titled Disparaître (Disappearing)
<http://onf-nfb.gc.ca/fr/notre-collection/?idfilm=4665>, warning that
within 25 years, “the French-Canadian nation will be dying.” That was in
Legault panicked Lisée into responding two days later, on a Saturday
morning. Lisée answered Legault’s promise to defend French Quebec against
invading immigrants with an offer of protection against anglophones already
In Quebec, that end justifies a major party leader’s proposing a language
inspired by Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in China, when urban youth
were sent to the countryside to be “re-educated.”
Chairman Lisée would temporarily exile young anglos from Montreal, where
most of them live, to distant French-speaking regions for some sink-or-swim
Anglo students in English-language CEGEPs would be denied their diplomas,
and therefore admission to Quebec universities, unless they had spent their
final session in French-language colleges, “preferably in the regions,” Lisée
reporters. At least there is no CEGEP in Arctic Ungava.
This is different from the voluntary exchanges for both English- and
French-speaking CEGEP students proposed in the PQ policy program
The party policy says anglo CEGEP students would be “strongly encouraged”
to take an enriched-French course including a session in a French-language
college. But the policy stops short of making it compulsory, and allows the
students to choose a local CEGEP.
Lisée’s discriminatory scheme, however, would single out anglophones as
young as 18 for punishment for the crime of being anglos.
He would sentence them to at least four months mostly away from home,
family and friends, to study in a second language, in a strange school in a
strange town. And that’s regardless of whether they were ready and willing
At least, that’s what he says now. But, as with Legault’s expulsion of
immigrants, it’s unlikely that Lisée’s exile of anglos will ever occur.
Analysts have demonstrated that Legault’s plan is unworkable as well as
undesirable and unnecessary.
So are Lisée’s chaotic annual migrations of hundreds of students between
English- and French-language CEGEPs in different regions, with the need to
place them in the right classes and find lodging for them.
Lisée’s brainwave was so hastily improvised that he was unable to say
how much it would cost the government, how it would work, or whether anglo
students would have to pass the same final French test as francophones.
But neither Legault’s immigrant expulsions nor Lisée’s anglo exiles look
like an actual policy to be applied by a government. Rather, they look like
entries in a peeing contest to show nationalist voters who will go farther
to put the minorities in their place.
This will test the theory that the former PQ government was defeated in
2014, not because of the referendum issue, but because of its anti-Muslim
“charter of values,” proving that you can’t win a Quebec election by
appealing to xenophobia.
Obviously, Legault and Lisée don’t buy it.
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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