O’Toole’s goal to ‘triple’ Conservative strength in Quebec built on promises of autonomy

Of note, the comments on secularism (Bill 2 1) and immigration powers:

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole emerged from “a great first meeting” with Quebec Premier François Legault on Monday to say he aims to “double and triple” his party’s Quebec caucus in the next federal election.

The Quebec premier noted that O’Toole told him a Conservative government would not contest Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans the wearing of religious signs by teachers, peace officers, prosecutors, judges and other provincial employees.

As well, O’Toole said he was open to giving Quebec greater powers over immigration and to increasing federal health-care transfers to the provinces.

“We have a national unity crisis, particularly in Western Canada,” O’Toole told reporters regarding his agreement with Legault on Bill 21, immigration, and health-care funding.

“We need a government in Ottawa that respects provincial autonomy, and respects provincial legislatures and the national assembly. I will have an approach like that.

“Personally, I served in the military with Sikhs and other people, so I understand why it’s a difficult question, but as a leader, you have to respect our Constitution and the partnerships we need to have in Canada,” O’Toole said, adding that he will focus “on what we can do together.”

The Legault government is contemplating extending its Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language, to cover activities in Quebec under federal jurisdiction, such as banking and federal operations in the province.

Bill 101 requires businesses in the province under provincial jurisdiction to operate in French.

“I told him that large institutions should respect the French-language provisions in Quebec,” O’Toole said, recalling his own experience as a lawyer for the Canadian division of Gillette, the American-owned razor and health products company, which complied with Quebec’s language law.

“Why would banks and airports and others not have to?” he said. “I think it’s a question of respect, and I understand the priority of (protecting) the language, culture and identity.”


While O’Toole is onside with Legault on Bill 21, Bill 101, which gives greater immigration powers to the province and more health-care funding from Ottawa, he said he has yet to made up his mind about Legault’s push for a single income-tax return.

Quebec is the only province where residents must file separate returns for federal and provincial taxes.

Legault wants Quebec to collect federal income tax in the province using a single filing.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employes about 6,000 people in the Saguenay and Shawinigan areas of Quebec.

O’Toole said he would discuss the matter with his caucus, along with the union representing CRA employees and the cities involved.

“We have to protect the jobs,” he said. “I will make a decision after the discussions.”

Source: O’Toole’s goal to ‘triple’ Conservative strength in Quebec built on promises of autonomy

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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