David: Les pommes québécoises et les oranges suisses [immigration], Yakabuski: In Quebec, immigration takes centre stage again on the campaign trail

More on Quebec election immigration debates, starting with Michel Davidd:

François Legault a cette fâcheuse habitude de prendre des raccourcis intellectuels qui déforment la réalité à sa convenance, comme il le fait presque quotidiennement dans le dossier du troisième lien.

Pour justifier sa décision de limiter le nombre d’immigrants à 50 000 par année alors que le gouvernement Trudeau prévoit en accueillir jusqu’à 450 000 pour l’ensemble du Canada, le chef de la CAQ a fait valoir les avantages des petits pays comme la Suisse et les États scandinaves.

Personne ne doute de leur extraordinaire réussite dans une multitude de domaines où une population plus nombreuse peut compliquer les choses. Il est clair que la taille n’est aucunement un gage de richesse ou de qualité de vie.

M. Legault sait cependant très bien qu’il compare des pommes et des oranges quand il établit un parallèle entre des États qui détiennent tous les attributs de la souveraineté et une simple province dont les pouvoirs sont limités, notamment en matière d’immigration. Que leur voisin allemand ouvre les vannes de l’immigration n’empêche en rien la Suisse ou le Danemark de fixer leurs propres règles sans provoquer chez eux un quelconque déséquilibre démographique ou politique.

Il va de soi qu’une explosion du nombre d’immigrants au Canada anglais, alors que le Québec choisit de le limiter, ne peut qu’affaiblir son poids au sein de la fédération et rendre encore plus difficile sa capacité d’affirmer sa différence.

Et suivre le mouvement canadien, ce qui imposerait au Québec d’accueillir 100 000 immigrants par année, compromettrait encore plus sûrement son caractère français, dont les chiffres du dernier recensement ont encore démontré la fragilité.
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Même dans un État souverain, la capacité d’intégration des nouveaux arrivants a ses limites. En avril dernier, la première ministre suédoise, Magdalena Andersson, déclarait que son pays « n’avait pas réussi à intégrer les nombreux immigrés qu’il a accueillis au cours des deux dernières décennies, ce qui a donné naissance à des sociétés parallèles et à la violence des gangs ».

Issue du Parti social-démocrate, Mme Andersson n’est pourtant pas une politicienne de droite adepte de la théorie complotiste du « grand remplacement ». La Suède s’est montrée très généreuse — peut-être trop — lors de la crise migratoire de 2015, en étant le pays européen à accueillir le plus grand nombre de migrants par habitant. « Nous allons devoir revoir nos vérités antérieures et prendre des décisions difficiles », a relevé la première ministre.

Le Québec n’est évidemment pas seul à tenter de concilier le désir de préserver son identité et la nécessité de répondre aux besoins du marché du travail. Au
Danemark, également dirigé par une première ministre sociale-démocrate, Mette Frederiksen, une politique migratoire très restrictive se traduit par un taux de chômage très bas et un manque criant de main-d’oeuvre.
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S’il est difficile pour un État souverain de trouver le juste équilibre, cela devient pratiquement impossible pour le gouvernement qui ne dispose pas de tous les éléments pour résoudre l’équation.

Il y a quelque chose de surréaliste dans le débat sur les seuils d’immigration auquel la présente campagne électorale donne lieu. Chaque parti semble tirer un chiffre de son chapeau, bien qu’il n’ait aucun pouvoir sur la sélection de la moitié de ceux qu’il compte accueillir et ne soit pas en mesure d’évaluer la capacité d’intégration de la société québécoise.

Au-delà de la « compatibilité civilisationnelle » évoquée par le Parti conservateur du Québec, il va de soi qu’un plus grand nombre de personnes exige plus de logements, de places en garderie, de travailleurs de la santé, d’enseignants, etc. Ce qui exige précisément de disposer de tous les outils nécessaires.

Le rapatriement des pouvoirs en matière d’immigration est la seule réclamation commune aux cinq partis, qu’ils soient fédéralistes ou souverainistes. Mais le refus d’Ottawa demeure toujours aussi catégorique.

Jean Charest avait espéré que Stephen Harper fasse preuve d’ouverture. François Legault avait misé sans trop y croire sur Andrew Scheer, puis sur Erin O’Toole. S’il devient premier ministre, Éric Duhaime se fait fort de convaincre Pierre Poilievre et ses homologues conservateurs au Canada anglais. Cela demeure bien hypothétique, c’est le moins qu’on puisse dire.

De passage à la table éditoriale du Devoir, mardi, le chef conservateur a proposé une démarche commune de tous les partis représentés à l’Assemblée nationale, ce qui apparaît déjà plus plausible, sans toutefois offrir la moindre garantie de succès.

Depuis le début de la campagne, M. Legault n’a pas reparlé de la grande conversation nationale sur l’immigration qu’il avait évoquée au printemps dernier sans en préciser la forme, mais il faudra bien faire quelque chose. Si cet exercice pouvait simplement permettre de séparer les pommes et les oranges, ce serait déjà quelque chose.

Source: Les pommes québécoises et les oranges suisses

And from the Globe’s Yakabuski, a good overview:

It wouldn’t be an election campaign in Quebec without a debate about immigration.

Elsewhere in the country, elections come and go without much talk about immigration. A broad consensus exists on the topic across the political spectrum and political parties rarely, if ever, seek to differentiate themselves on the issue. That, it seems, is the Canadian way.

In Quebec, however, immigration has become a hot-button issue that features prominently in party platforms. The issue played a determining role in the 2018 campaign as the Coalition Avenir Québec’s signature promise to slash the number of newcomers the province accepts each year propelled it to victory over the Quebec Liberal Party. Under then-premier Philippe Couillard, the Liberals had set an annual target of 60,000 permanent residents; the CAQ, under François Legault, vowed to cut the number to 40,000. It crushed the Liberals.

Within a couple of years, though, the CAQ government increased its annual target for new permanent residents – to 50,000 – and oversaw an explosion in temporary foreign workers to help alleviate a severe labour shortage amid a clamouring for employees from the business sector. The somewhat ironic result is that Quebec has seen a greater influx of foreigners under the CAQ – to more than 93,000 in 2019 and 100,000 expected this year – than it ever did under the Liberals. Proof that there is a lot more than meets the eye on the immigration file.

The nuances get lost on the campaign trail, however, as the parties once again go at each other over immigration levels in advance of the Oct. 3 provincial election.

Mr. Legault maintains that the CAQ’s 50,000 cap on permanent residents represents the number of newcomers the province can integrate each year without threatening its French character. On Monday, he conceded that Quebec’s population is destined to continue to decline as a share of the Canadian population as Ottawa boosts national immigration targets to 450,000 permanent residents in 2024. But that is the price Quebec must pay to remain an island of French in North America.

Besides, small is beautiful. “Switzerland is an extraordinarily rich, and extraordinarily dynamic, small country,” Mr. Legault said. “Being big might be nice, but what’s important is having a [high] quality of life for the people who live in Quebec.”

But maintaining Quebeckers’ quality of life will become an increasing challenge as the province’s working-age population shrinks and the proportion of seniors rises to 24.8 per cent in 2030 from 20.3 per cent in 2021, according to the Quebec Finance Ministry’s own projections. With a population aging faster than the rest of the country outside Atlantic Canada, future economic growth will be severely handicapped.

That reality has not stopped the sovereigntist Parti Québécois from vowing to cut immigration levels further – to 35,000 permanent residents annually, or less than 8 per cent of the Canadian total – if it wins on Oct. 3. At that rate, Quebec’s share of Canada’s population (which now stands at 22.5 per cent) would likely plummet even more rapidly than it is forecast to fall under Statistics Canada’s most recent projections, which show it falling to 19.8 per cent by 2043.

To back up his plan, Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon has referred to a study produced this year for the Quebec Ministry of Immigration by economist Pierre Fortin that disputes the argument that higher immigration levels are needed to address labour shortages as “a big fallacy,” since an influx of newcomers creates demand in the economy that serves to exacerbate shortages for workers, housing and health care.

Prof. Fortin’s study is especially critical of Ottawa’s immigration targets, arguing they will lead to “bureaucratic congestion and confusion,” produce scarce economic benefits, and increase the “social risk of stoking xenophobia and encouraging a rejection of immigration.”

Under leader Dominique Anglade, the Liberals are proposing to boost the number of permanent residents Quebec accepts to 70,000 in 2023. It would determine immigration levels beyond that year in conjunction with the province’s 17 regions in a bid to get more newcomers to locate outside the greater Montreal area.

The far-left Québec Solidaire has adopted the most ambitious immigration targets of all the parties, promising to welcome up to 80,000 permanent residents to the province annually. That would still not be enough for Quebec’s population growth to keep pace with the rest of Canada, but the figure clearly sets QS apart as the most unabashedly pro-immigration party in this election campaign.

When the CAQ leader challenged QS co-spokesperson (and de facto leader) Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois to explain how his party would slow the decline of French in Quebec with such high immigration levels, he responded with a zinger: “The difference between Mr. Legault and me is that he points fingers and I open my arms.”

Source: Opinion: In Quebec, immigration takes centre stage again on the campaign trail

ICYMI: Yakabuski: Can Canada handle its coming population boom?

Valid question. Alternative question: Is the coming population boom good for Canada and Canadians?

The latest projections from Statistics Canada show that Canada’s population is poised to grow much faster over the next two decades than the federal agency forecast just three years ago, suggesting any downturn in the country’s housing market is likely to be short-lived.

Indeed, the revised Statscan figures released last week underscore the need for policy makers to clear the way for more housing and infrastructure projects now to accommodate a fast-growing national population that is projected to increase by around 10 million people by 2043.

Statscan normally updates its population projections every five years. But the agency undertook a “necessary” revision of its 2019 projections this year “to reflect recent developments in Canadian demographics,” including the pandemic and Ottawa’s move to increase immigration targets. While the longer-term impact of the pandemic on population growth is expected to be “rather imperceptible,” the opposite is true for the higher immigration levels.

In February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced plans to boost immigration levels “to help the Canadian economy recover and to fuel post-pandemic growth,” following a sharp drop in the number of newcomers arriving in Canada in 2020. Immigration rebounded in 2021, with a record 405,332 new permanent residents arriving here. And Canada is set to welcome about 432,000 new permanent residents this year, 447,000 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024.

National Bank of Canada economists Matthieu Arseneau and Alexandra Ducharme noted that Canada’s population will increase by one million more people by 2032 than Statscan previously projected. Almost all of that extra growth will occur among those aged between 25 and 54 years old – an age cohort that is “crucial to the resilience of consumption and real estate.”

Royal Bank of Canada economists Robert Hogue and Carrie Freestone came to a similar conclusion even before the release of Statscan’s updated population projections. In a mid-August report, they projected that Canada will count 730,000 more households by 2024 than it had in 2021, as the country welcomes more than 1.3 million new immigrants.

“This surge, combined with shrinking household sizes, will strengthen demand for housing (whether owned or rented) and act as a powerful counter to sliding sales and prices – eventually putting a floor under the correction,” they wrote.

The updated Statscan projections highlight the urgency for policy makers to plan for what is expected to be the highest population growth among the Group of Seven countries over the next two decades and beyond. Based on the federal agency’s medium-growth scenario, Canada’s population is projected to grow to 47.8 million in 2043 from 38.2 million in 2021.

Ontario is expected to add more than four million new residents over the next 20 years, with its population rising to 19 million from 14.8 million. Canada’s most populous province will see its share of the national population increase to 39.8 per cent from 38.8 per cent.

Even so, Ontario’s 28-per-cent population growth over the next two decades is expected to pale compared with a 46-per-cent surge in Alberta, which will see its population grow to 6.5 million by 2043 from 4.4 million. Albertans will account for about 13.5 per cent of Canada’s population in 2043, up from 11.6 per cent in 2021.

However, Quebec’s share of the Canada’s population is set to fall below 20 per cent for the first time, as the province (which chooses its own economic immigrants) accepts proportionally fewer newcomers than the rest of the country. From 22.5 per cent of Canada’s population in 2021, Quebec will see its share decline to 19.8 per cent by 2043. Quebec’s overall population will grow by less than 10 per cent over the same period, to 9.4 million.

The Atlantic provinces will benefit from interprovincial migration levels that will be higher than those forecast before the pandemic, but not enough to reverse a decline in the region’s share of the national population. Newfoundland and Labrador’s population will shrink outright.

Ottawa’s higher immigration targets will on their own not be enough to ease the country’s labour shortage, as more and more Canadians retire in coming years. Even more aggressive immigration levels would be needed to reverse the aging trend that will see the share of the population over 65 increase steadily over the next two decades to 23.1 per cent in 2043 from 18.5 per cent in 2021.

The average age of Canadians, which increased from 27.3 years in 1921 to 41.7 years in 2021, will rise further to 44.1 years by 2043. And while about 871,000 were over 85 in 2021, their ranks will swell to more than 2.2 million by 2043.

Still, Canada’s population projections tell a rather enviable story compared with many European countries, where population aging is occurring at a much faster rate amid lower immigration levels. The question is whether policy makers here can move fast enough to prepare the country for its coming population boom.

Source: Can Canada handle its coming population boom?

Yakabuski: Official bilingualism is officially dead in Canada

Overly dramatic header but as we see in initial reactions in Quebec, recent action/inaction by the federal government, and the ever increasing gap between immigration to English Canada compared to Quebec, the trendline is not encouraging:

Statistics Canada surely did not time the release of language data from the 2021 Census to coincide with the launch of an election campaign in Quebec. But its publication of findings that confirm the decline of French within the province and across Canada are sure to light a fuse on the campaign trail as Premier François Legault calls for Ottawa to cede more powers to Quebec.

Neither did the federal agency likely consider the optics of releasing its report on the heels of the Aug. 15 Fête nationale de l’Acadie, the annual celebration of francophones in Atlantic Canada that marks the 1755 expulsion of thousands of their ancestors from the region by the British. Many ended up in Louisiana, where the French-language is today spoken by only a tiny minority of their descendants.

In May, as he revealed plans to seek full control over immigration policy if his Coalition Avenir Québec wins the Oct. 3 election, Mr. Legault warned that Quebec runs the risk of becoming another Louisiana without the ability to choose its own immigrants, including those who come to Quebec through the federal family reunification program. “It is a question of survival for our nation,” he said then.

Statistics Canada’s Wednesday report, showing that more newcomers to Quebec are using English as their first official language, will only serve to buttress Mr. Legault’s argument. The proportion of Quebeckers who primarily spoke English rose to 13 per cent in 2021 from 12 per cent in 2016, topping the one-million mark for the first time. The share who spoke predominantly French at home fell to 77.5 per cent from 79 per cent, despite extensive government efforts to “francize” new immigrants.

More than 70 per cent of Quebeckers who speak English as their first official language live on the Island of Montreal or in the suburban Montérégie region. The concentration of English speakers in and around the Quebec metropolis has long created linguistic tensions. Protecting Montreal’s “French face” is seen as imperative by most francophone Quebeckers, but many allophone newcomers to the city still gravitate toward English, sometimes even after attending French public schools.

And as Montreal goes, many fear, so goes the province. Which is why Bill 96 – the law adopted by Mr. Legault’s government in June that caps enrolment in English-language junior colleges among dozens of other measures aimed at protecting French – is seen by many francophones as a strict minimum.

Across Canada, French has been on the decline for decades despite Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s government adoption of the Official Languages Act in 1969. In 1971, French was the first official language spoken by 27.2 per cent of Canadians. By 2016, the proportion had declined to 22.2 per cent. In 2021, it fell again to 21.4 per cent. Where will it stand in 2026? You don’t need a PhD to figure it out.

The dream of a bilingual Canada d’un océan à l’autre may never have been more than that. But the reduction of French to folkloric status everywhere outside Quebec and in pockets of New Brunswick and Northern Ontario is the writing on the wall. Between 2016 and 2021, the proportion of the population speaking French at home declined in every region of the country except Yukon, where it rose to 2.6 per cent from 2.4 per cent. In New Brunswick, Canada’s only officially bilingual province, the share speaking French at home fell to 26.4 per cent from 28 per cent.

It may be fashionable among English-Canadian elites to enrol their kids in French immersion classes. But anemic rates of bilingualism hors Quebec and New Brunswick speak for themselves. Outside Quebec, Canadians who claimed an ability to conduct a conversation in both official languages dropped to 9.5 per cent from 9.8 per cent and down from a peak of 10.1 per cent two decades ago.

Even the federal public service, which once aspired to set an example, no longer prioritizes Canada’s official languages equally. In May, a Radio-Canada report showed that francophones are underrepresented in the upper echelons of the federal bureaucracy. Now, there is a push to waive French-English bilingualism requirements if applicants speak an Indigenous language or aspire to.

Removing barriers to career advancement faced by Indigenous people in Canada is a legitimate objective. But francophones argue it should not mean the diminution of the status of French within the public service. They worry that the appointment of Mary Simon as Governor-General, despite her inability to speak French, paves the way for more such nominations. They are not wrong to worry.

The latest census figures will exacerbate feelings of linguistic insecurity among francophone Quebeckers in particular. There will be consequences. We may witness a few of them on the campaign trail.

Source: Official bilingualism is officially dead in Canada

Yakabuski: Amid Quebec labour crunch, Legault spurns business demands for more immigrants

A natural experiment: as the rest of Canada increases immigration, Quebec adapts a more restrictive approach.

Will be interesting to contrast Quebec economic outcomes with those of the other provinces, particularly with respect to productivity and income, over the coming years:

Generations of Quebeckers were once forced to leave home for work, fleeing to Ontario or New England for a job, as their native province grappled with a chronic unemployment problem.

Until the turn of the century, Quebec’s jobless rate consistently exceeded the Canadian average by several percentage points. The spread with Ontario stood at as much as five points in the 1980s and never shrank below three points before 2000.

That was then. A falling birth rate, a fast-aging population and lower immigration levels than in the rest of Canada have since combined to make Quebec’s labour market the country’s second tightest after British Columbia.

Quebec’s unemployment rate stood at 5.6 per cent in October, compared with 7 per cent in Ontario and 6.7 per cent nationally. At 3.8 per cent, the unemployment rate in Quebec City was the lowest of any census metropolitan area in the country.

Premier François Legault considers this a nice problem to have.

“You have to admit it’s good news for [Quebec’s] 4.5 million workers because it puts upward pressure – and we’ve seen it for the past three years – on salaries,” the Premier said last week. “I’d rather have a lack of workers than a lack of jobs.”

Quebec businesses do not see it that way, however. They describe an acute labour shortage – there are currently more than 220,000 job vacancies in the province – as the biggest obstacle to economic growth. The province’s manufacturers have foregone $18-billion in revenues in the past two years because they could not find enough workers to fill orders. Many businesses are closing for lack of employees.

Last week, five of Quebec’s main business groups joined with the Union des municipalités du Québec to demand Mr. Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec government boost immigration levels to prevent the current labour shortage from getting even worse. In addition to working with the federal government to accelerate the application process for temporary foreign workers, the groups want the province to permanently boost the number of permanent residents it accepts each year and do more to get newcomers to settle outside the greater Montreal area to more remote regions where the worker shortage has reached crisis levels.

Karl Blackburn, the head of the province’s main employers’ group, le Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ), called the province’s labour shortage “an economic catastrophe,” and called on Finance Minister Eric Girard to introduce new measures to address the labour crunch in next week’s fall economic statement.

Mr. Legault, who was elected in 2018 on a signature promise to temporarily cut immigration levels, continues to push back against such demands. The Premier emphasized automation, job training and digitization last week while outlining his government’s strategy for easing the labour shortage and boosting productivity.

Mr. Legault has made closing the wealth gap between his province and Ontario – Quebec’s per-capita gross domestic product remains about 13 per cent lower – his government’s top economic priority. As a result, he has insisted that bringing in more immigrants, who typically start off making less than the average full-time salary of $56,000, would only make this task harder.

“Immigration might be part of the solution, but we have to realize that, at 50,000 [immigrants] a year, we have reached our capacity for integration,” Mr. Legault said. “If we want the next generations to continue speaking French, there is a limit to the number of immigrants we can accept.”

Under a decades-old agreement with Ottawa, Quebec establishes its own immigration targets and selects economic immigrants. The federal government is responsible for choosing newcomers who come to the province as refugees or under the family reunification program.

Mr. Legault’s government recently announced it would seek to bring in 70,000 immigrants in 2022. But the one-time boost would only to make up for a shortfall of newcomers experienced in 2020 and this year because of the pandemic. Despite the one-shot increase, Quebec will continue to receive far fewer immigrants relative to its population than Ontario, B.C. and Alberta.

To keep pace with the rest of the country, Quebec, which accounts for 22.5 per cent of the Canadian population, would need to increase the number of immigrants it accepts to 90,000 starting this year and increase the level annually after that.

In 2019, Quebec accepted only 40,565 immigrants, or 11.9 per cent of the 341,180 permanent residents admitted to Canada that year. Its share is set to rise temporarily to 17 per cent next year, but will fall below 12 per cent again starting in 2023 as Ottawa increases the national immigration target to 421,000.

Beyond the current labour crunch, the CAQ’s immigration policy will leave the province even less well equipped to face the budgetary pressures caused by an increasingly aging population. At 19.7 per cent, the proportion of Quebeckers over the age of 65 exceeded the national average of 18 per cent in 2020. Quebec also has fewer residents under the age of 20 than the rest of Canada, while the size of its working-aged population has been shrinking.

Mr. Legault, who is up for re-election in 2022, continues to portray immigration as a threat to Quebec’s distinct culture. But his policies are damaging his province’s economic prospects and reducing its political influence within Canada. How can that be good for Quebec’s cultural survival?

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-amid-quebec-labour-crunch-legault-spurns-business-demands-for-more/

Yakabuski: Quebec and France join forces against cancel culture

Yakabuski points out the irony given the cancel culture aspects of their policies and the intolerance of Bill 21:

When France’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, learned that a francophone Ontario school board had held a book-burning ceremony involving titles banned because of their negative portrayal of Indigenous people, he contacted his Quebec counterpart to commiserate.

Mr. Blanquer, who has been on a mission to turn back the tide of “cancel culture” on French university campuses, was incredulous at the news – which made the pages of the prestigious Paris-based Le Monde – of the Providence school board’s “flame purification” ceremony.

Included among the books incinerated during the ceremony – held in 2019, but which only came to light last month in a Radio-Canada report – were titles from the cartoon collections Tintin, Lucky Luke and Asterix, beloved by generations of young francophones on both sides of the Atlantic.

The result of Mr. Blanquer’s commiserating with Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge was a joint op-ed, published last week in Quebec and France, denouncing the “pernicious influence of a culture of intolerance and erasure” embodied by the book-burning.

“We have a duty to prepare our youth to exercise active, respectful and enlightened citizenship. A citizenship that allows for debate, the opinions of others, the confrontation of ideas and the questioning of all our beliefs,” Mr. Blanquer and Mr. Roberge wrote. “That is why we affirm with force and conviction that public schools, the first line of defence against ignorance and darkness, must be the preferred location for the construction of a common civic project.”

The op-ed was just Mr. Roberge’s opening salvo in his own crusade against wokeism in Quebec public schools. Two days later, the Coalition Avenir Québec minister announced his government would introduce a new “Quebec culture and citizenship” (QCC) course to replace the “ethics and religious culture” (ERC) curriculum now taught in public schools.

The current ERC course was adopted by former premier Jean Charest’s Liberal government in 2008, a decade after Quebec replaced its Catholic and Protestant school boards with linguistic ones. The ERC, which replaced the catechism courses that had long been taught in French Catholic schools, aimed to familiarize primary and secondary school students with the panoply of religions practised in Quebec. But critics have long argued that the course is an affront to modern Quebec’s secularist values.

That is an exaggeration. Even the children of non-believers should understand the influence of religion in the lives of most people, and the role the Catholic faith played in shaping modern Quebec. But the anti-clericalism espoused by francophone intellectuals since the Quiet Revolution has hardened attitudes toward the separation of church and state in Quebec.

The Mouvement laïque québécois (MLQ), an organization dedicated to the “total secularization of the state and public institutions in Quebec,” called the abolition of the ERC course “a breath of fresh air.” The ERC, the MLQ said, has been “an aberration and a disaster on the social level.”

Given its populist leanings, the CAQ government to which Mr. Roberge belongs is not particularly popular in Quebec intellectual circles. But Quebec nationalists and intellectuals have found common ground when it comes to secularism.

Both support Bill 21, though for different reasons. Nationalists see the law that prohibits some public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols as an assertion of Quebeckers’ distinct identity in the face of the multicultural ethos that prevails elsewhere in Canada. Intellectuals see it as protection against the incursion of religion in the public square, which they argue should be a faith-free zone.

The CAQ government’s move to replace the ERC with a new Quebec culture and citizenship course is similarly welcomed by nationalists as a blow to multiculturalism and an affirmation of Quebec’s dominant francophone identity. In a video promoting the new curriculum, Premier François Legault says the new course will lead to “a prouder Quebec.”

Mr. Legault’s re-election in 2022 is about as close as you can get to a sure thing in Canadian politics. And his plan to push ahead with the new course will certainly not hurt his chances.

Still, there is something deeply disturbing about the CAQ’s exploitation of Quebeckers’ cultural insecurity for political gain. It is one thing to express concern about the pernicious effects of cancel culture on democratic debate or the excesses of a multiculturalism that denies the existence of a core national identity. But it is quite another to depict critics of Bill 21 and the new citizenship course as an existential threat to the survival of the Quebec way of life, as Mr. Legault and his ministers do.

It almost makes you wonder whether Mr. Roberge even read his own op-ed.

Source: Opinion: Quebec and France join forces against cancel culture

Bloc leader’s threat to unleash ‘fires of hell’ over Quebec seat proposal might just backfire

Hard to have much sympathy for the “outrage” given the demographic decline reflects in part Quebec’s decision to admit fewer immigrants than elsewhere in Canada (despite or because they manage economic immigration) and the xenophobic Bill 21 and the weakening of bilingualism in Bill 96. Commentaries, starting with Konrad Yakabuski highlighting the consequences of lower immigration levels, and Randy Boswell’s more sympathetic take:
Le premier ministre de l’Ontario, Doug Ford, a suscité un tollé cette semaine lorsqu’il a livré un avertissement à tous ceux qui espèrent immigrer dans sa province, laquelle fait face à un manque criant de travailleurs puisque plus de 290 000 postes demeurent vacants. « Si vous pensez que vous pouvez venir ici pour toucher le B.S. et rester assis à la maison, ça n’arrivera pas », a martelé M. Ford lors d’un point de presse, se faisant immédiatement accuser d’exprimer tout haut ce que de nombreux Ontariens pensent tout bas. Si M. Ford a refusé de s’excuser pour ses propos, il s’est néanmoins empressé de se déclarer « pro-immigration » et de se vanter d’accueillir des immigrants de partout dans le monde au « Ford Fest », le barbecue estival que sa famille organise chaque année dans un quartier très multiculturel à Toronto. En effet, le gouvernement conservateur de M. Ford appuie sans réserve la hausse des seuils d’immigration annoncée l’an dernier par Ottawa, qui vise à accueillir 401 000 résidents permanents au pays en 2021, soit une augmentation de 18 % par rapport à 2019. Si le nombre d’immigrants a chuté en 2020 en raison de la pandémie, tombant à 184 000, le gouvernement fédéral presse le pas pour atteindre ses objectifs en matière d’immigration pour les années 2021, 2022 et 2023. En tout, ce sont plus de 1,2 million de nouveaux résidents permanents que le Canada compte accueillir pendant cette période, dépassant ainsi un ancien record qui date du début du XXe siècle. À lui seul, l’Ontario devrait accueillir plus de 540 000 nouveaux arrivants, ce qui pousserait sa population au-delà du seuil des 15 millions d’habitants. La politique d’immigration du Québec Quoi qu’on pense de la politique d’immigration du Québec, son résultat à long terme mènera vers une baisse du poids démographique de la province dans la fédération canadienne. La province compte accueillir entre 51 500 et 54 500 nouveaux immigrants cette année, si on inclut le « rattrapage » de 7000 nouveaux arrivants que le gouvernement caquiste prévoit d’effectuer après la baisse de 2020 liée à la fermeture des frontières. En 2019, durant la première année du gouvernement de François Legault, le Québec a reçu 40 565 nouveaux résidents permanents, ou seulement 11,89 % du total canadien. L’Alberta, qui compte la moitié moins d’habitants que le Québec, en a reçu 43 691, ou 12,81 % du total. L’Ontario a accueilli 153 395 nouveaux arrivants, ou 45 % des 341 000 nouveaux résidents permanents acceptés en 2019. Le Québec ne recevait déjà pas sa part d’immigrants en fonction de sa population au sein de la fédération canadienne avant l’arrivée de M. Legault au pouvoir. En 2016, quand le Québec comptait pour environ 23 % de la population canadienne, il avait reçu 18 % des immigrants arrivés au pays au cours de cette année-là. Il n’est pas impossible que ce taux atteigne les 10 % dans les prochaines années. En effet, les voix s’élèvent dans le reste du pays pour qu’Ottawa augmente ses seuils annuels d’immigration à 450 000 ou à 500 000 nouveaux arrivants. Un groupe d’influents Canadiens, réunis sous la bannière de l’Initiative du siècle, préconise une politique d’immigration visant à hausser la population canadienne à 100 millions de personnes en l’an 2100 afin de s’assurer de la prospérité nécessaire au maintien des programmes sociaux et d’augmenter l’influence du Canada sur la scène internationale. Le groupe, présidé par l’ancien chef de la direction du fonds d’investissement du Régime de pensions du Canada, Mark Wiseman, compte parmi ses membres le p.-d.g. du Conseil canadien des affaires, Goldy Hyder, et Dominique Barton, l’actuel ambassadeur du Canada en Chine. Il jouit aussi de l’appui de l’ancien premier ministre Brian Mulroney. Or, dans son discours inaugural prononcé cette semaine à l’Assemblée nationale, M. Legault a réaffirmé son refus aux « voix qui réclament un nombre toujours plus élevé d’immigrants ». Le Québec reçoit déjà plus d’immigrants que la plupart des pays développés, a-t-il dit, et il n’est pas question qu’il emboîte le pas au reste du pays. « Le Québec ne peut pas avoir le même modèle d’immigration que celui du Canada anglais. La survie du français exige une approche différente. » Ce choix n’est pas sans conséquences. Le directeur des élections du Canada, Stéphane Perreault, a annoncé la semaine dernière que le Québec doit perdre un siège à la Chambre des communes dès 2024, ce qui porterait le nombre de ses sièges à 77, selon une nouvelle répartition des sièges basée sur la formule de représentation prévue dans la Constitution. Les réactions à cette annonce n’ont pas tardé, le chef du Bloc québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, et la ministre caquiste des Relations canadiennes, Sonia LeBel, s’étant tous deux insurgés contre toute tentative de diminuer le poids du Québec au Parlement fédéral. Vendredi, M. Legault a lui-même sommé M. Trudeau de « préserver le poids de la nation québécoise à la Chambre des communes ». Toutefois, sans modification constitutionnelle, il semble inévitable que le Québec voie sa proportion de sièges à la Chambre des communes diminuer de façon importante au cours des prochaines décennies. Cette proportion est déjà tombée de 36 % des sièges en 1867 à 23 % en 2011. Selon la proposition de M. Perrault, elle glisserait encore à 22,5 %. Qu’en sera-t-il dans dix ans, alors que le reste du Canada s’apprête à accueillir de plus en plus d’immigrants pendant que le Québec referme davantage ses portes ?
Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/chroniques/642273/chronique-la-marginalisation?utm_source=infolettre-2021-10-23&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne
A proposed rejigging of Canada’s electoral map could see Quebec lose one of its seats in the House of Commons by 2024 while Alberta gains three and Ontario and B.C. each gain one.
The changes would increase the total number of federal ridings to 342 from 338. There are reasonable arguments for and against implementing the exact changes recommended by Elections Canada. But Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet’s opening salvo in the debate — that the BQ would “unleash the fires of hell” if his province’s seat count is dropped to 77 from 78 — is the wrong way to begin what needs to be a calm, cool conversation about updating the country’s political geography. How are we supposed to respond to Blanchet’s Trumpian explosion of outrage? Can thoughtful discussion follow a toddler’s tantrum?
Injecting apocalyptic rhetoric into a decision-making process that must be driven by the fundamental democratic principle of representation by population — and basic math — is precisely how to inflame prejudices, fuel interprovincial pettiness and polarize the nation. Blanchet, of course, knows this. Driving wedges wherever possible between Quebec and the rest of Canada is crucial, by definition, to the political project of any diehard separatist.
So we shouldn’t be too surprised that Blanchet has zeroed in histrionically on the planned removal of a single Quebec seat from the Commons as if it were a sign of the End Times. Although Elections Canada proposed the change for the benign reason that Quebec’s population is not growing at the same pace as the populations in Alberta, Ontario or B.C. — and because Quebec is (relative to those other big provinces) already more fairly represented in the current parliamentary seat count — Blanchet is invoking biblical imagery of the final battle between Good and Evil.
Sonia LeBel, Quebec’s minister responsible for relations with the rest of Canada, has employed more moderate language — and advanced a more compelling rationale — in urging special considerations for the province in the latest redistribution of federal ridings. “We are part of the founding peoples of Canada,” she said this week. “We have three seats guaranteed at the Supreme Court for judges. We have seats guaranteed in the Senate, a weight that is important and represents much more than just a simple calculation of population.” All of this is why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other political leaders interested in preserving the peace in our mostly peaceable kingdom need to rise above Blanchet’s blatant bullying while finding a sensible solution to the seat-count conundrum — one that delicately balances numerical fairness with other considerations endemic in a land of complexity and compromise. Remember: there’s no purely mathematical justification for granting a federal seat to each of Canada’s three territories — none of which has a population above 50,000 — when the average number of Canadians represented by each MP is more than 110,000. There’s no logical reason, either, for Prince Edward Island — with a mere 0.43 per cent of the national population of about 38 million — to have four seats representing 1.19 per cent of the elected positions in Parliament.
So there may well be legitimate reasons to avoid reducing Quebec’s seat count at this time. In 2011, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper implemented legislation that increased the number of seats to 338 from 308 to reflect population changes. At the time, the Harper government — with much prodding from Quebec, the BQ and other opposition parties — chose to inflate the overall size of the House of the Commons so that the number of Quebec seats would increase (by three, to 78) instead of remaining static at 75 — as an earlier, hotly rejected, purely mathematical proposal had called for. The government’s thinking at the time was that tweaking the formula for allocating seats in a way that would better recognize Quebec’s special status as a nation within the nation was politically prudent.
It also happened to keep the province’s seat total roughly proportional to its percentage of Canada’s population, even as those two numbers remained unfairly out of whack for faster-growing provinces.
The Quebec-friendly adjustment wasn’t immediately embraced by Harper’s own caucus. The additional Quebec seats, according to a Globe and Mail report at the time, “caused consternation among Conservative backbenchers, who were concerned that Canada’s French-speaking province was benefiting from a bill meant to address under-representation in the three large and fast-growing anglophone provinces” — Alberta, Ontario and B.C. Sound familiar? The Conservative caucus was ultimately convinced by Harper to accept the plan for the sake of national unity. But despite the Quebec-friendly compromise, the pre-Blanchet Bloc Québécois still slammed the 2011 reconfiguration of the House as falling short of true recognition of the province’s “unique status with regard to its political weight.” You can’t please everyone. As then-B.C. premier Christy Clark, who supported the 2011 changes, said at the time: “Perfection in these things is impossible because it’s a big and complicated country.” A decade later, the scenario confronting Elections Canada, the federal government and the provinces is much the same. And maybe a little massaging of the numbers to mollify Quebec is warranted yet again. Would it be so bad if Quebec kept its 78 seats and we had 343 federal ridings instead of 342? That would represent about 22.7 per cent of the seats in the House for a province with about 22.6 per cent of Canada’s population. (Meanwhile, Ontario’s proposed 122 seats would then account for 35.6 per cent of 343 seats for a province with almost 39 per cent of the country’s population.)
But Blanchet’s bluster about unleashing the “fires of hell” risks torching the good will required for the rest of Canada to grant Quebec some latitude in its allotment of seats in the national legislature. It’s the kind of talk that’s more likely to unleash cynicism and stinginess. And eventually, if population trends continue in the current direction, maintaining Quebec’s present share of federal seats as its population drifts towards one-fifth of Canada’s total will become untenable from a democratic point of view — Blanchet’s fires of hell notwithstanding. Randy Boswell is a Carleton University journalism professor and former Postmedia News national writer.
Source: Bloc leader’s threat to unleash ‘fires of hell’ over Quebec seat proposal might just backfire

Yakabuski: Four years after the Quebec mosque tragedy, the Bloc Québécois Leader has learned nothing

Indeed:

Four years ago this week, a disturbed young man walked into a Quebec City mosque and opened fire, killing six people, wounding another eight and forever shattering the blissful innocence of an otherwise peaceful and tolerant community, province and country.

In the immediate aftermath of the slaughter at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, then-premier Philippe Couillard called on the political class to proceed cautiously in the debate over secularism that many felt had unfairly targeted Quebec’s growing Muslim community.

“Words spoken, words written as well, are not trivial,” Mr. Couillard said. “It is up to us to choose them.”

After all, there is a fine line between defending the secularism of the state – the purported objective of the previous Parti Québécois government’s ill-fated Charter of Quebec Values – and stigmatizing members of a religious minority to win the votes of a nationalist Québécois for whom the protection of their province’s cultural distinctness has been a lifelong preoccupation.

No matter how legitimate the desire of some Quebec politicians to keep religion out of the public sphere – a desire informed by the province’s long struggle to break the stranglehold of the Catholic Church on state institutions – too many of them had succumbed to the temptation of raising the bogeyman of Islamization to win votes among pure laine Quebeckers.

In his infinite smugness, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet continues to demonstrate that he has learned nothing about the dangers of resorting to the kind of demagoguery that Mr. Couillard warned against in the wake of 2017′s fatal events. His refusal this week, of all weeks, to apologize for his smearing of Liberal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra is too serious an infringement of the basic rules of Canadian and Quebec politics to ignore.

Mr. Blanchet embarked on this slippery slope two weeks ago by dredging up old innuendo about Mr. Alghabra’s “proximity” to Islamic extremists in a press release following the Mississauga-Centre MP’s appointment to the federal cabinet. Saying he refused “to accuse anyone,” Mr. Blanchet nevertheless went on to point to “questions” about Mr. Alghabra’s association with “the Islamic political movement, of which he was a leader for several years.”

If there were any doubts about Mr. Alghabra’s alleged coddling of extremists, they were dispelled years ago. Before going into politics, he briefly led a mainstream organization, the Canadian Arab Federation, that, under a subsequent president, veered in a radical direction. Any attempt by Mr. Blanchet to associate Mr. Alghabra with positions taken by the CAF after his stint as president amounts to engaging in guilt by association and, frankly, sleazy politics.

Former PQ leader Jean-François Lisée nevertheless leapt to Mr. Blanchet’s defence, arguing, in a column in Le Devoir, that Mr. Alghabra had demonstrated a “leniency toward [Hamas] that warrants clarification.” Mr. Lisée provided no evidence of said leniency. But then again, what do you expect from a former politician who, in 2016, argued for a ban on burkas in public because terrorists in Africa had “been proven” to hide AK-47s under such clothing.

Mr. Blanchet was given an opportunity this week to withdraw his previous comments and apologize to Mr. Alghabra. He chose to dig himself into an even deeper hole. “The question I raised in an absolutely polite and courteous manner was based on articles in Le Journal de Montréal, Le Journal de Québec and the very torontois and not very indépendantiste Globe and Mail,” he told reporters. “Quebeckers have concerns on questions of secularism and security.”

The newspaper columns and article Mr. Blanchet referenced only served to prove the baselessness of the “questions” about Mr. Alghabra he sought to raise. Unfortunately, besides a few curious journalists, he knows most people will not bother to check. And in the online echo chamber, where baseless innuendo is the bitcoin of political debate, Mr. Blanchet’s “questions” about an upstanding MP and Liberal cabinet minister take on a life of their own.

It is no mystery why the Bloc Leader resorted to smearing Mr. Alghabra as his party prepares to defend a slew of narrowly-won ridings in a federal election expected later this year. The Bloc, which remains nominally supportive of Quebec independence, portrays Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and their devotion to multiculturalism as a threat to Quebec’s cultural survival. Raising doubts about Mr. Alghabra’s political views serves to plant the seeds of fear and intolerance among a subset of Quebec voters for whom the details do not matter much.

While it is quite legitimate to bemoan the excesses of Liberal multiculturalism – epitomized by Mr. Trudeau’s 2015 inanity about Canada having no core identity – it is quite another to seek to scapegoat religious minorities for political purposes. Mr. Blanchet crossed the line. That he did so on the eve of such a painful anniversary for Quebec’s Muslims says quite a lot about him.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-four-years-after-the-quebec-mosque-tragedy-the-bloc-quebecois-leader/

Glavin: On the death of Samuel Paty – Shouldn’t freedom of religion mean freedom from religion too?

Two articles responding to the reaction in many Muslim countries to French President Macron’s comments following the beheading of Samuel Paty, starting with Terry Glavin’s pointing out the hypocrisy of those who criticize Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate in the West while being silent on Chinese repression and arguably genocidal policies against the Uighurs:

Samuel Paty was a quiet 47-year-old middle-school civics teacher at the Collège du Bois d’Aulne, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, in the suburbs of Paris. He would walk to and from school from his second-floor apartment in nearby Eragny, where he lived alone with his five-year-old son. After class, he liked to play tennis. By all accounts passionately devoted to teaching, Samuel Paty was otherwise a man of temperate disposition, well-regarded by his students and by his colleagues.

That was just three weeks ago. Now, Paty’s name is coming up in blood-curdling slogans shouted in the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and in arguments and imbecilities erupting in Ankara, Riyadh, Islamabad and Tehran. Ambassadors have been summoned. Diplomats have been recalled. Tuesday this week was officially International Religious Freedom Day. If there was anything worth observing about it, it’s that religious freedom must mean freedom from religion, too, or it means nothing at all.

Source: Glavin: On the death of Samuel Paty – Shouldn’t freedom of religion mean freedom from religion too?

More temperate commentary by Konrad Yakabuski along similar lines:

The beheading this month of a middle-school teacher by an 18-year-old Islamic extremist, upset that his victim had shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed to his students, was a crime so horrific that it shocked even France’s most-hardened anti-terrorism experts.

In a country permanently on high alert since a wave of terrorist attacks took the lives of hundreds of French civilians in 2015, the gruesome decapitation of teacher Samuel Paty was unanimously condemned by French politicians as an assault on the Republic itself.

“Samuel Paty was killed because the Islamists want our future and because they know that, with heroes like him, they will never have it,” President Emmanuel Macron declared at an Oct. 21 ceremony in honour of the slain teacher held outside the Sorbonne. “We will defend the freedom you taught and raise up secularism. We will not renounce caricatures, or sketches, even if others step back. We will offer all the chances that the Republic owes to its youth without discrimination.”

The caricatures that Mr. Paty had shown his adolescent students, as part of a lesson on freedom of expression, were the same ones that had led to an attack on the offices of the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in 2015. That attack left 12 people dead and sparked the global “Je suis Charlie” movement in support of free speech. But Mr. Macron’s defence of the freedom of the press earned him nasty epithets throughout the Muslim world and exposed once again the clash in values between France’s secularist majority and its growing Muslim minority.

French police have rounded up dozens of suspected accomplices to the attack on Mr. Paty by a Chechen refugee who had been alerted to the teacher’s actions by French Muslims who denounced it on social media. Mr. Macron and hardline Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin have vowed further crackdowns on imams accused of promoting Islamic “separation” within France.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led the foreign charge against Mr. Macron with weekend diatribes questioning the French President’s mental health and accusing him of “leading a campaign of hate” against Muslims akin to the pre-Second World War treatment of European Jews. On Monday, Mr. Erdogan joined growing calls for a boycott of French products. Anti-Macron protests erupted in several majority-Muslim countries.

While other Western leaders expressed solidarity with Mr. Macron in the wake of Mr. Paty’s killing, it took Prime Minister Justin Trudeau 10 days to even acknowledge the incident – and only after the Bloc Québécois brought forward a House of Commons motion condemning the attack “on freedom of expression” in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northeast of Paris.

Questioned by journalists on Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau did condemn Mr. Paty’s killing, but declined to express his solidarity with Mr. Macron. “I’m going to take the opportunity to talk to world leaders, community leaders, leaders of the Muslim community here in Canada, to understand their worries, their concerns, to listen and to work to reduce these tensions,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Unfortunately for Mr. Trudeau, there is no middle ground in this debate. If he does not stand with Mr. Macron to defend freedom of expression, he automatically stands with Mr. Erdogan as an apologist for Muslim extremists. A listening tour will not cut it.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne also failed the grade with a Monday tweet in which he expressed “solidarity with our French friends.” He referred to “Turkey’s recent comments” as being “totally unacceptable” but did not rebuke Mr. Erdogan personally. He promised to “defend freedom of expression with respect.”

There is no other way to interpret Mr. Champagne’s tweet except as a repudiation of Mr. Paty and Charlie Hebdo. The caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammed were anything but respectful. That was their whole point. No religion is off limits to satirists. And thank God for that.

The right to freedom of speech is meaningless if it is subject to conditions such as “respect.” The Constitution protects freedom of speech precisely because speech that is meaningful is often controversial. It is up to the courts to determine what constitutes hate speech under Section 319 of the Criminal Code. But the bar is set mercifully high. Democracy depends on it.

This is the second time in as many weeks that Mr. Trudeau’s government chose to trample on the Charter in the name of political correctness. After a University of Ottawa professor was suspended for using the n-word as part of an educational online lecture, Mr. Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland made banal pronouncements about fighting systemic racism rather than standing up for academic freedom. It was a facile cop-out on their part.

“We will not give in, ever,” Mr. Macron tweeted on Sunday, in French, English and Arabic. “We respect all differences in a spirit of peace. We do not accept hate speech and [we] defend reasonable debate. We will always be on the side of human dignity and universal values.”

Canadians should stand with Mr. Macron, even if their government will not.

Source: Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-canadians-should-stand-with-macron-even-if-trudeau-wont/

Clivage entre Québec et Ottawa à propos du «mot en N»

Of note:

Le clivage entre la classe politique québécoise et celle du reste du Canada se confirme dans l’affaire du « mot en N ». Alors qu’à Québec, tous les partis politiques pensent qu’il devrait encore être possible de prononcer le mot « nègre » dans le cadre d’une discussion académique, à Ottawa, les voix affirmant le contraire se multiplient.

Après le chef du NPD Jagmeet Singh, c’est au tour de la nouvelle chef du Parti vert de soutenir que le mot honni devrait être banni du vocabulaire. Annamie Paul, qui est elle-même Noire, estime que le mot « nègre » ne devrait jamais être utilisé par des personnes blanches. Elle laisse aux personnes noires le choix de l’utiliser ou non entre elles. « J’encourage tout le monde, surtout les personnes qui ne font pas partie de notre communauté, à éviter de l’utiliser, dit-elle en entrevue avec Le Devoir. Ça cause beaucoup de peine. Ce n’est pas nécessaire de l’utiliser, pas même dans un milieu académique. »

Mme Paul reconnaît que la communauté noire n’est pas « monolithique ». Mais elle rappelle que ce mot « n’est pas un mot que la communauté noire a choisi pour elle-même. C’est un mot qui a été imposé sur nous par la société blanche ». « Alors s’il y a des personnes de notre communauté qui ont choisi de se l’approprier, le réclamer comme un mot qu’on utilise entre nous, c’est une chose. Mais c’est tout à fait possible de discuter de ce mot, de son histoire, dans un contexte académique sans l’utiliser. »

Selon Mme Paul, « il y a beaucoup de façons » de parler du mot sans utiliser le mot. Mme Paul a toutefois dit ne pas connaître suffisamment le débat pour se prononcer sur la pertinence de suspendre la professeure de l’Université d’Ottawa qui avait prononcé le mot pendant un cours et qui est à l’origine de toute cette controverse. La professeure Verushka Lieutenant-Duval voulait parler de la réappropriation par des communautés minoritaires de certains mots à l’origine insultants pour elles. Il était question du mot « queer » et elle a dressé un parallèle avec le mot « nigger ».

Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau a lui aussi ajouté son grain de sel au débat. Il a déclaré mercredi que « nous devons tous être conscients de la portée de nos paroles. Nous favorisons le respect des autres et l’écoute des communautés. Notre priorité est toujours de mettre de l’avant des actions concrètes pour combattre le racisme sous toutes ses formes. » La veille, sa vice-première ministre Chrystia Freeland avait déclaré que « le racisme anti-Noir est à la fois odieux et illégal ». Elle n’avait pas dit ouvertement qu’elle jugeait raciste l’usage du mot, mais l’avait laissé entendre en déclarant que « lorsque de telles choses se produisent, nous devons nous rassembler et reconnaître les expériences vécues par nos concitoyens ».

À Québec, tous les leaders des partis représentés à l’Assemblée nationale ont soutenu qu’il devrait encore être possible de prononcer le mot, incluant la cheffe libérale Dominique Anglade qui est Noire elle-même.

Source: Clivage entre Québec et Ottawa à propos du «mot en N»

Good Commentary by Konrad Yakabuski of the Globe:

The people who run Canada’s institutions of higher learning can no longer be trusted to stand up for the very principle for which those institutions exist in the first place. When faced with a choice between defending or silencing open debate on campus, they invariably pick the latter.

This cowering in the face of controversy sets the entirely wrong example for the young minds universities were invented to develop. Yet, university administrators who know better would rather give in to the dictates of cancel culture than face the wrath of those who do not.

Consider the response of University of Ottawa Arts dean Kevin Kee in the face of complaints that an art-history professor had used the N-word during an online seminar to illustrate the concept of subversive resignification, or the process by which an insult is reappropriated by those it is meant to insult. The songs of mainstream Black hip-hop artists provide ample proof of this phenomenon. But apparently this is a topic too hot to handle at the U of O.

“This language was offensive and completely unacceptable in our classrooms and on our campus,” Prof. Kee said in a statement this month after a backlash erupted on social media against art-history professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval. “Everyone at the University of Ottawa has the right to an environment free of discrimination and harassment, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect.”

The dean’s statement was highly problematic in and of itself. That someone in Prof. Lieutenant-Duval’s class was offended by her use of the N-word is no excuse for its blanket prohibition in an academic setting. The professor obviously did not use it as a slur. She used it to illustrate a form of cultural expression that seeks to gut offensive words of their power to debase by reappropriating them as markers of identity. She also used the word “queer” as an example.

The U of O’s administration was having none of it, however. On Monday, president and vice-chancellor Jacques Frémont, a former head of Quebec’s human-rights commission, weighed in on the matter with this: “Members of dominant groups simply have no legitimacy to decide what constitutes a microaggression.” According to this point of view, a white professor’s right to freedom of expression comes second to the “right to dignity” of minority students.

To put these two concepts on equal footing is a sophism unacceptable from someone in Mr. Frémont’s position. Academic freedom means having the freedom to offend, even if that was most definitely not Prof. Lieutenant-Duval’s intention. Mr. Frémont added insult to injury by saying that Prof. Lieutenant-Duval, who was briefly suspended from teaching this month, “could have chosen not to use the full N-word. Yet she did and is now facing the consequences.”

The consequences? What is that supposed to mean? That she was only asking for online harassment and threats directed at her by daring to treat her students as adults? If those who attacked Prof. Lieutenant-Duval are unwilling to discuss difficult topics, and risk being offended in the process, perhaps a university classroom is the wrong place for them.

The controversy at the U of O, which bills itself as the world’s largest bilingual university, has particularly reverberated in Quebec. Many of the online attacks directed at Prof. Lieutenant-Duval referenced the fact that she is francophone; some used well-worn slurs to do so.

“What also troubles me is seeing the university throw this professor to the wolves of aggressive militants who use violent language against her and [other] francophones. I can’t help but see a certain cowardice on the part of the administration,” Quebec Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault wrote in a Facebook post defending Prof. Lieutenant-Duval’s academic freedom.

“It’s as if there is a censorship police,” Premier François Legault added on Tuesday, saying he would take up the matter with his Ontario counterpart, Doug Ford.

Prof. Lieutenant-Duval needs better advocates than these two. Mr. Legault’s government has stubbornly resisted calls to recognize systemic racism in provincial institutions, on the grounds that doing so would be tantamount to labelling Quebec a racist society. His government’s attempt to make a cause célèbre of Prof. Lieutenant-Duval’s case only muddies the water.

Still, francophones also make up most of the nearly three dozen U of O professors who signed a letter defending Prof. Lieutenant-Duval, suggesting many of her anglophone colleagues are too afraid to speak up on her behalf. After all, there would be “consequences.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-university-of-ottawa-throws-academic-freedom-under-the-bus/

@KonradYakabuski François Legault’s denial of systemic racism reveals Quebec’s great divide

Good commentary on the new “two solitudes” of Quebec::

When Dominique Anglade became the Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party last month, a historic step forward for equality was buried under an avalanche of sad statistics as the province grappled with Canada’s worst COVID-19 outbreak.

Ms. Anglade, who won the job by acclamation after the only other candidate in the race dropped out, is the first woman to lead the party in its 153-year history. She is also Black and the daughter of Haitian immigrants in a province whose top institutions are still dominated by white men descended from 17th-century French colonists.

Still, Ms. Anglade’s odds of winning next election remain low. The QLP holds no ridings outside of non-francophone Quebec. Recent polls place support for Premier François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec at more than 60 per cent among francophone voters. The QLP barely cracks double digits. Although all but two of her 15 predecessors as leader went on to serve as premier, Ms. Anglade faces a steep challenge if she is to avoid becoming the third.

Such is the extent to which Mr. Legault has come to dominate Quebec politics since the party he founded in 2011 won power 20 months ago. His approval rating was slightly dented as the coronavirus death toll mounted in long-term care homes, but it remains through the roof. Not since René Lévesque have Quebeckers seemed to like their premier this much.

This explains why Mr. Legault was in no hurry last week to concede that systemic racism exists within Quebec society. Unlike Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who quickly changed his tune after initially denying the existence of systemic racism in Canada, Mr. Legault has continued to insist there is no “system of discrimination” against visible minorities in Quebec.

Although thousands of people marched in Montreal on Sunday to argue otherwise, Mr. Legault’s own political base is with him on this one. While his refusal to state the obvious drew guffaws among many Montreal-based media commentators, others defended the Premier.

“This murky concept [of systemic racism] has no scientific value. Its principal function is to associate all forms of resistance toward multiculturalism with racism,” prominent Quebecor Media columnist Mathieu Bock-Côté wrote last week. “When you search pseudo-scientific literature on systemic racism, you find that the main proof [offered for] its existence lies in the fact of [others] not recognizing it.”

Quebec nationalists have always dismissed Ottawa’s official policy of multiculturalism as a political strategy aimed at winning votes among ethnic Canadians. So, it should hardly come as a surprise that the concept of systemic racism so eagerly embraced by Prime Minster Justin Trudeau would be a harder sell in Quebec than the rest of Canada.

This was clear in debate over Bill 21, the law Mr. Legault’s government passed last year to ban public-sector employees in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols. The law might easily be held up as an example of systemic discrimination, since it institutionalizes barriers faced by certain Muslim women. But it remains extremely popular among francophone Quebeckers, most of whom live outside Montreal.

The political divide between Montreal, long the home of the province’s anglophone elite, and the rest of Quebec has always been a large one. But it has grown in recent years as the city became the destination for thousands of immigrants from North Africa and Haiti. White francophones who live in Montreal’s hip Plateau Mont-Royal or Rosemont neighbourhoods tend to be far more progressive in their politics than their relatives in the suburbs.

This clash in values between Montrealers and other Quebeckers risks putting the province on a path toward the extreme political polarization that has destabilized the United States and many European countries. Mr. Legault may not need to win over voters in Montreal to keep his job in 2022. But unless he wants his province to descend into civil war, he will need to make greater efforts to bridge the political gap between Montreal and the rest of Quebec.

He took a tentative step in that direction this week by promising to soon release an action plan for combating racism that could include police reforms. But in calling for “quiet evolution” of Quebec society, in contrast to the province’s Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, Mr. Legault appeared to minimize the importance of the issue. He will need to do much better than that.

Source: François Legault’s denial of systemic racism reveals Quebec’s great divide