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Canada: Chris Selley: Ottawa finally draws a line on not tolerating Legault's intolerance

Quebec votes: Legault criticizes immigration minister who said newcomers 'don't work'

  Quebec votes: Legault criticizes immigration minister who said newcomers 'don't work' MONTREAL — Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault says incumbent Immigration Minister Jean Boulet is no longer qualified to hold that job after Boulet said the majority of immigrants to the province "don't work." Legault on Wednesday was forced to confront the statement Boulet made during a Sept. 21 election debate. The premier held a series of media interviews during which he said Boulet would no longer be immigration minister if the CAQ wins the Oct. 3 election. Earlier in the day, Legault distanced himself from Boulet's comments and told reporters his minister made a "serious error." "I regret that and I think Mr.

“Principled” isn’t a word that often leaps to mind while considering modern Canadian politics, but hand it to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Quebec lieutenant, Pablo Rodriguez. They have made it reasonably clear to Quebec Premier François Legault that Ottawa will be of no help to his regressive immigration agenda.

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez looks towards Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they take part in a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. © Provided by National Post Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez looks towards Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they take part in a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.

The newly re-elected Legault wants more power from Ottawa to control new arrivals, and he wants to use that power to freeze immigration at 50,000 per year, down from 70,000, even as employers, struggling with labour shortages like elsewhere in Canada, are pleading for more: The Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce estimates there are 271,000 job vacancies in the province, and politely insists it’s “important not to leave aside any pool of potential workers.”

Legault sorry for saying racism against Indigenous people at hospital is 'settled'

  Legault sorry for saying racism against Indigenous people at hospital is 'settled' QUEBEC — Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault apologized on Tuesday for offending the husband of an Indigenous woman who filmed nurses mocking her as she lay dying in a Quebec hospital. Legault told reporters he never meant to offend when he said during a televised leaders debate last week that the racism situation at the hospital in Joliette, Que., is "settled." Looking into the camera during a campaign stop in Orford, Que., in the province's Eastern Townships, Legault directly addressed Carol Dubé, husband of the late Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman who died in hospital in September 2020.

“We know that immigration is a source of wealth and growth for Quebec,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday. “We will continue to be there to ensure that there is more immigration in Quebec, and we are very happy to work with the premier.”

That might be passive-aggression or it might just be bafflegab, but it can only be read as a hard no to Legault’s plan. Rodriguez, the day before, was more direct: “(Quebec) all the tools in hand right now to choose the vast majority of its immigrants,” he said.

This ought to be a no-brainer: Ottawa should not be making it easier for any province to weaken its own economy, and thereby the country’s. But Ottawa has tiptoed on eggshells around other parts of the Coalition Avenir Québec agenda: cracking down on hijab-wearing teachers (Bill 21) and draconian new restrictions on languages other than French (Bill 96). The federal Conservatives pitched broader powers to Quebec in the past two elections, including over immigration. One hopes the nakedly xenophobic election campaign we just saw out of Quebec occasions some soul-searching in the nation’s capital: Just how much intolerance are we willing to tolerate?

Quebec votes: Quebecers head to the polls for province's general election

  Quebec votes: Quebecers head to the polls for province's general election MONTREAL — Quebecers are heading to the polls today after a five-week provincial election campaign dominated by issues such as immigration, the environment and the rising cost of living. Polls have suggested Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault is poised to cruise to a second majority, with support more than 20 percentage points higher than that of his closest rival. Legault is facing off against a crowded field including the Quebec Liberals, Quebec solidaire, the Parti Québécois and the Quebec Conservative Party, all of which are polling in the teens.

Officially, Legault wants to limit immigration to protect French. It doesn’t make very much sense, and the threat to French is wildly overblown, but it’s universally accepted in Ottawa as a serious problem that needs addressing. But over the course of the campaign, Legault and other CAQistes let the veil slip more often and more shockingly than usual.

Speaking at the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, Legault said it would be “suicidal” for Quebec to accept more than 50,000 a year. “Quebecers… don’t like conflict and extremism and violence,” he told reporters on the campaign trail, explaining his position. “We have to make sure to keep things the way they are now.”

Not entirely about French, then!

Incumbent Trois-Rivières MNA Jean Boulet took that ball and ran with it during a televised local candidates’ debate. “Eighty per cent of immigrants go to Montreal, don’t work, don’t speak French or don’t accept the values of Quebec society,” he said.

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That’s almost all incorrect: The 2016 census found 81 per cent of immigrants to Quebec were able to converse in French; the Labour Force Survey pegged unemployment among Quebec immigrants in 2019 at seven per cent overall, and six per cent among those settled for more than five years. Thanks to Legault’s “values test,” implemented in 2019, immigrants ought to know what’s expected of them. (If they didn’t, the election campaign certainly showed them.)

The only part Boulet had right is that in recent years, roughly 80 per cent of immigrants to Quebec have settled in cosmopolitan, multicultural, multilingual and just generally delightful Montreal, as opposed to … well, Trois-Rivières for example. If it wasn’t obvious why beforehand, Boulet made it so.

Boulet’s cantankerous musings are the sort of thing you might expect to hear from an unpleasant old man on a barstool. Until the writ dropped, he was Legault’s immigration and labour minister — and the premier, while saying he won’t put him back in the immigration portfolio, has not ruled out reappointing him to other cabinet posts. Just about anywhere else in Canada, he’d be lucky if the People’s Party took his calls.

Immigration could be source of conflict between Ottawa and Quebec's re-elected CAQ

  Immigration could be source of conflict between Ottawa and Quebec's re-elected CAQ QUEBEC — Control over immigration and Quebec's religious symbols ban could be sources of conflict between Ottawa and the province as Premier François Legault begins his second mandate. Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec was re-elected Monday with a resounding majority, elected or leading in 89 of the province's 125 ridings as of 11:30 p.m. Martin Papillon, a political science professor at the Université de Montréal, said the balance of power between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Legault may have shifted in the Quebec premier's favour. A stronger mandate could embolden Legault, Papillon said in a recent interview.

Meanwhile, the central absurdity remains: if preserving the French language is Job One, there are plenty of potential francophone immigrants out there waiting to be wooed. Francophone countries with high negative net migration include Mali, the Central African Republic, Haiti, Lebanon, Senegal and Algeria. Alas, some of those people insist on reading the Koran and importing other strange folkways, like religious symbols and garments, which Quebec suddenly decided — not very long ago at all — were social threats. There’s always France proper, of course, but in recent years French expats have been much more interested in settling in the U.K., Spain and the United States.

The option always remains open for Quebec simply to accept its linguistic and cultural success and calm the heck down. The 2021 census found 85.7 per cent of Montrealers could carry on a conversation in French, down from 86.8 per cent five years earlier. That’s not much more than a rounding error, but in Quebec it’s the sort of stat that passes for a looming catastrophe.

The bad news is, there is no sign of that happening. The good news, such as it is, is that there are still some lines Ottawa won’t cross in the name of national unity or courting votes — for now, at least.

Legault's big win in Quebec can only ratchet up tensions with Trudeau, observers say .
The massive election win in Quebec by the CAQ led by François Legault is likely to only sustain growing tensions between the provinces and Ottawa, causing more headaches for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, political observers predict. Jonathan Kalles, a former Quebec adviser to Trudeau, expects health care and immigration to become “points of friction” between Quebec and Ottawa, even more than they already are. “I think that with an even larger majority, you will see Premier Legault working with other premiers to continue to demand a first ministers’ meeting and a summit on health care, and ultimately increased dollars,” said Kalles, a senior consultant for McMillan Van

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