Immigration heats up on final day of Quebec election campaign


On the countdown to the Oct. 3 Quebec elections, Prime Minister Francois Legault has focused on hot issues of immigration and cultural protection, and admitting more immigrants this week would be a “suicidal act” for the French. said it would be

“I think it would be a bit suicidal for a Quebec nation that wants to protect the French, unless they stop the decline of the French. [the immigration threshold]In a speech at the Montreal Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 28, Legault said:

Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Jean Boulet caused a stir after he said at a local election debate that “80%” of immigrants were not working.

“80% of the immigrants go to Montreal and don’t work, don’t speak French, and don’t adhere to the values ​​of Quebec society,” Bourré said.

Legault told reporters on Sept. 28 that he had “disqualified” Bourré from the post of immigration minister because his statements were false and he had made a “serious mistake”, but would remain the party’s candidate. said.Same day, Bourré apologized on social media for his comments.

During the second and final election debate on September 22, party leaders were posed with the question of how to welcome immigrants while protecting the French.

Legault, leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), said “the prime minister of Quebec’s first task is to secure the future of the French” and that this will require less non-French speaking immigration. I was.

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Union Avenir du Quebec leader Francois Legault speaks to the media during an election campaign in Longueuil, Quebec. 19, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz)

Liberal Party leader Dominque Anglade told Mr Lego, “We need to point the finger, stop dividing, stop saying immigration is a problem or a threat.” Former CAQ candidate and party leader Anglad left the party in 2015, citing his identity and his stance on immigration.

The two clashed again on September 7. Lego discussed “integration challenges” at his campaign event and confirmed his intention to limit immigration to 50,000 a year. “Quebec is peaceful,” he said. “They hate arguing, they hate extremism, they hate violence.

Angled condemned Legault commented, he later apologized. “I regret it and I think it is dangerous.

The French are perceived as ‘fragile’

Yannick Dufresne, a political scientist at Laval University, says the conflict between the benefits and risks of immigration is at the forefront in Quebec. This is because French is perceived as “fragile” on the English-dominated continent.

“All parties have embraced it, and perhaps we are the ones who were forced to recognize it and engage in this nasty type of discussion because of our position as a language minority.” It’s the first. It’s very exciting, both emotionally and ideologically,” Dufresne told the Epoch Times.

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Quebec Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglaed speaks during a Q&A session at the Youth Conference during a break in the election campaign in Montreal, September 17, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)

“If we don’t take in more immigrants, we’re going to lose our percentage in this country. But if we don’t take them in and integrate them well into French, what are we doing Is it a challenge to [party leaders], and choosing an answer is a very difficult choice. ”

Parti Québécois is the only party calling for cuts in immigration, proposing 35,000 a year.

Some business groups in Quebec need more immigrants. The Quebec Guardian Association, the province’s largest employer group, is seeking 80,000 new entrants each year to fill a labor shortage expected to reach 1.4 million jobs by 2030. Quebec manufacturer and exporter (MEQ) Association says labor shortage is straining state’s manufacturing sector $18 billion For the past two years.

Quebec welcomes nearly 70,000 immigrants in the current calendar year to make up for the decline in numbers during the pandemic, but will lower the annual threshold to 50,000 for the next four years. Quebec’s Conservatives do not see immigration as a long-term solution to the labor shortage and will reduce their immigration targets.

federal context

The federal government wants the Liberal government to accept 450,000 immigrants a year. This means Quebec will need to increase immigration beyond her 115,000 to maintain its current share of the Canadian population while maintaining its fertility rate. However, English Canada feels uneasy about the large number of immigrants.

June 2019, leger poll Sixty-three percent of Canadians believe the federal government should “prioritize restricting” immigration to accommodate its ability to integrate immigrants into Canadian communities, and 37% believe it should be “a priority for the growing economy.” It turns out that Canada believes that in order to “meet demand,” Canada should “prioritize increasing immigration.”

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Quebec Conservative Party leader Eric Duhaim waves to supporters at a campaign launch rally in Quebec City on August 28, 2022. (Jacques Boisinotto/Canadian Press)

The People’s Party lonely voice It advocates cutting 100,000 to 150,000 immigrants annually, focusing primarily on economical immigrants with the right skills, but it has no seats in Congress.

Malcolm Byrd, a professor of political science at the University of Winnipeg, said when asked why Quebec’s mainstream political parties could discuss immigration and English Canada could not, Quebec politicians offered a variety of valid considerations. Said it better represents the matter.

“Immigration is a sensitive issue, but it is also very important.

“Anytime we bring people into our country, we are changing the labor market. For most of the Left’s existence, they were critical of immigration because it brought more workers into the labor market.”

Immigration has few negative aspects of the labor shortage, but there is a limit to the benefits of resolving the subsequent labor shortage. Conservative Party leader Eric Duheim said this at a press conference on 5 September.

“Immigrants who arrive here need services, use more services, need hospitals, need schools for their children, need housing, go to restaurants. It will create a need for workers.” he Said.

Byrd said an open market would be better able to handle inflows, but housing regulations are preventing supply from reaching higher demand. As a result, the price is higher.

“If you think about the current housing crisis here, you have to think about immigration, international students, housing supply, all these things in the same context. Whether it’s bringing in new people or building more supply. , they are both important factors that need to be considered and considered and are part of the dialogue.

policy stance

The issue of religious considerations also influences policy stances. 2019 Lego’s CAQ Government Passes Bill 21This prohibits some public sector workers in positions of authority, such as police and teachers, from wearing religious symbols at work. The Conservative Party of Quebec and his PQ party leader support the bill, while the Liberals and her QS party oppose.

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(LR) Conservative Party leader Eric Duhaim, Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglade, Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Party-Québec leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, CAQ leader François Lugo, moderator Pierre Brunei on the set in front of the leaders debate in Montreal on September 15, 2022 (Martin Chevalier/The Canadian Press)

The Conservative Party of Quebec said the Conservative government would “select permanent immigrants on the basis of their civilizational suitability”, adhering to “Western values” and “the ability to integrate into Quebec culture”.

Duhaime says employability, values ​​and French language proficiency are more important considerations than numbers.

“Anyone who comes here and does not work is not a success either for him or for the host society,” text beyond Quebec law. ”

Lee Harding


Lee Harding is a Saskatchewan-based journalist, think tank researcher, and contributor to The Epoch Times.