As spokesperson for the Coalition Avenir Québec on immigration, I consider it important to address several serious charges initially made by the Liberal Party of Quebec and included in recent articles in the Montreal Gazette.
For several months now, it has become clear that the Liberal Party is in panic mode. Last week, Finance Minister Carlos Leitão told reporter John Meagher that “the kind of nationalism the CAQ proposes is, in my opinion, an ethnic-based nationalism.”
This is a serious accusation. The nationalism Leitão is referring to is directly associated with racism. Fact is, the Liberal Party launched a campaign of fear. Quebecers have been told the CAQ wants to deport immigrants, to harm Quebec’s economy by reducing immigration thresholds, and to attack the rights and freedoms of all by imposing a ban on religious symbols. Quebecers are disgusted with this way of doing politics.
In fact, the CAQ intends to reduce immigration levels by 10,000 people per year while maintaining funding allocated to the integration of immigrants. Our capacity is limited, and problems with the integration of immigrants over the last 15 years are among the biggest failures of the Liberal government. We must take in fewer immigrants in order to take better care of them. Every one of them must, when they arrive in Quebec, find a job that suits their abilities. A CAQ government will make francization mandatory and accessible for any immigrant who needs it.
To immigrate to Quebec is to want to integrate into our community, our values, our culture — and to learn our language. We have a duty to take good care of newcomers, and in our opinion, they have a duty to want to integrate into our society. Does that make us racist? Absolutely not.
Yes, the CAQ will implement a knowledge test for values, which will aim to ensure that every candidate for immigration knows and integrates values in line with the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms before receiving the Quebec selection certificate. Why such a test? Simply because there can be no successful integration without newcomers’ full adherence to our core values. Several other countries, including Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, have adopted similar policies.
A CAQ government will put in place measures to help immigration candidates who might have difficulties passing this test. Only those reluctant to respect our values, such as the equality between men and women and gender diversity, will not get a selection certificate.
As for religious symbols, our position has been the same since 2012: only people in positions of authority will be asked to abstain from wearing a religious symbol, including primary and secondary school teachers. And although we will not ban them, we are not afraid to say it: We remain totally against the niqab, chador and burqa. We must send a clear message we do not like the idea of these symbols of the oppression of women. We plan only to prohibit these symbols for all public service employees.
Anglophones are no different from other Quebecers. We all share the same values, the same priorities, the same concerns. It is important to reiterate that the first article in the CAQ’s permanent constitution states that the CAQ will ensure Quebec’s development and prosperity within Canada.
For the first time in more than 40 years, the next election will not be about Quebec sovereignty. English-speaking Quebecers now have a real alternative to the Liberal Party.
Certainly, one of our missions will be to ensure the success and sustainability of the only francophone nation in North America. The French language is our national treasure, and English-speaking Quebecers know and understand that. Because of our common language and our cultural effervescence, closely linked to the historical presence of the English-speaking community, we are one of the most dynamic and envied places in America.
Nathalie Roy is the MNA for Montarville and the CAQ spokesperson for immigration.