Quebec premier Francois Legault and his governing Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) party are playing games with peoples’ well being as they try to score political points with their base.
That’s exactly what the new Quebec values test comes down to: creating an environment of arbitrary fear and hatred towards immigrants.
We know that it’s not something that’s unique to Quebec because despots and wanna-be political strongmen the world-over, including the bad-boy just south of the Canadian border, have been making a perceived threat from immigrants central their belligerence and hate-filled rhetoric.
So it has been with Mr. Legault and the CAQ who campaigned hard on a promise not only to stem the flow of immigrants to Quebec but to get rid of those who have already gotten in, but are not in compliance to with the values that Quebecers hold dear and which bind them together as a distinct society.
The policy, which came into effect this past January 1, states that new immigration candidates will be subjected to what the government is calling an Attestation of learning about democratic values and the Quebec values expressed by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in order to qualify for selection by the province.
According to the government this so-called values test hinges on five fundamental principles that
• Quebec is a French-
• Quebec is a democratic
• Equality between women and men
• The rights and responsi bilities of Quebecers
• Quebec is a secular
And it’s up to those who want to come in, mostly economic immigrants (refugees and those coming under the family reunification program are exempt), to get with it by understanding the belief system we adhere to in this province.
Which leaves us to wonder if Immigration Minister Simon Jolie-Barrette, the framer of this policy and Priemer Legault know that apart from the linguistic differences, all those fundamentals are the same in every province and territory across Canada. So it’s obvious that Quebec is intent on trying to unhinge prospective immigrants by holding these so-called values up as a deterrent.
Truth is they are just playing games because the multiple-choice test is far more difficult to fail than it is to pass, and it can be re-written over and over again by those who really want in.
But for the CAQ it’s important that the 20 to 30 per cent of Quebecers who’re uncomfortable with strangers know that the government has their back.
A fact compounded by the recent passage of the new secularism law that prevents Quebecers seeking a position of authority with the government of Quebec from wearing what can be determined to be a religious symbol.
That law is seen as a cynical and hateful act by the government.
And that’s too bad.
Because every year an estimated 45,000 immigrants to Canada choose to settle in Quebec, bringing with them all the hopes and aspirations of people seeking new lives elsewhere.
And in spite of the a stifling insularity of the dominant group that keeps the average newcomer under-represented in the mainstream of society, be it politics, economics or culture, many immigrants’ groups still manage to build strong communities here and contribute to the maintenance of what is a peaceful and progressive society.
The immigrants that come here are not unlike immigrants to other countries, ultimately they are a force for good.
And in spite of what the government is intimating, what they’re bringing Quebec needs badly, the most important being their propensity for hard work, sacrifice and entrepreneurship, all key factors in helping a province with a severely stunted birth rate and depleting work force. As such immigrants will be a significant source of government revenue in the future, a key in helping to maintain Quebec’s quality of life in the future.
And as fearful as it may be to some pure-laine Quebecers, immigrants bring an opportunity to expand the “culture” of the society with new ideas, customs and traditions, all of which contribute to opening up the world to people who might have never ventured out of their little towns.
The hope is that at some point, Premier Legault and other members of the CAQ who’re stricken by this virulent strain of “anti-immigrantitis,” which is infecting so many in the so-called developed world, find the relief they so badly need.
But before that must come the awareness that the values test, which seek to impose on new immigrants is as insulting as it is dangerous.