Dutrisac: Survivance et résignation [on the CAQ electoral strategy and immigration]

Of interest, particularly the contrast between the earlier inclusive vision of the first PQ government and how it has evolved to the defensive approach of the CAQ:

Il a été beaucoup question de fierté lors du congrès national de la Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ). François Legault a parlé des deux pôles de son gouvernement, la prospérité et la fierté. Le ministre André Lamontagne a aussi beaucoup parlé de fierté dans l’allocution finement rédigée qu’il a livrée samedi après-midi.

Ce type d’événements partisans baigne dans un enthousiasme parfois factice — il ne l’était aucunement cette fin de semaine —, qui se manifeste par les autocongratulations et le cheerleading, le simplisme des lignes de communication et un comportement moutonnier particulièrement exacerbé dans un parti composé de militants disciplinés, ou dociles, plutôt que chicaniers. À cet égard, la CAQ surpasse le Parti libéral du Québec.

Cet enthousiasme se percevait sur le plancher du centre des congrès de Drummondville : jamais depuis les libéraux de Robert Bourassa en 1985 un parti politique québécois n’a été en si bonne posture à l’orée d’élections générales, ce que la faiblesse de ses adversaires ne fait que souligner.

En campagne électorale il y a quatre ans, François Legault avait aussi parlé de fierté, en contraste avec un Philippe Couillard distant, qui semblait parfois douter du peuple québécois.

Après un premier mandat, les Québécois sont-ils plus fiers qu’en 2018, sont-ils plus prospères ? a lancé le chef caquiste, tout en donnant évidemment une réponse affirmative aux deux questions.

Sur le plan de la prospérité, son bilan est positif, surtout si on le compare à celui du gouvernement précédent, de l’austérité duquel nous nous souvenons amèrement. Malgré la pandémie, les finances publiques sont en ordre, la forte croissance économique a dépassé celle de nos voisins, le taux de chômage est au plus bas, la productivité est en hausse, l’écart de richesse avec l’Ontario s’est réduit, les salaires ont augmenté, bien que la poussée d’inflation, qu’on espère de courte durée, soit venue brouiller les cartes, et avec ça, le gouvernement caquiste a remis « de l’argent dans les poches des Québécois ».

Plus prospères et plus fiers, les Québécois devraient afficher une assurance à toute épreuve. Pas si vite : c’est compter sans le spectre de la « louisianisation » du Québec, brandi par François Legault, en lien avec une immigration qui s’intégrerait mal à notre société de langue française. Il y va de la « survie » de la nation québécoise, a fait valoir le chef caquiste.

Dès le début du prochain mandat, le gouvernement caquiste entend organiser un vaste sommet sur les perspectives démographiques du Québec et l’apport de l’immigration. L’événement permettrait d’informer la population sur cet enjeu crucial dans le but de bâtir un rapport de force face à Ottawa. Dimanche, François Legault a réitéré une demande à laquelle Justin Trudeau avait déjà répondu par un non catégorique, celle de rapatrier la responsabilité de la réunification familiale, qui compte pour près du quart des immigrants reçus, et il a ajouté la gestion des programmes visant les travailleurs temporaires et les étudiants étrangers.

Comme l’éventualité que le premier ministre du Canada acquiesce à cette revendication semble lointaine, voire utopique, un prochain gouvernement Legault devra s’atteler à reprendre concrètement la maîtrise de la situation avec les leviers dont il dispose, mais qu’il n’a pas pleinement utilisés.

Ce retour de la survivance, une posture qui fut l’apanage des Canadiens français après 1840, laisse perplexe. C’est une stratégie empreinte de résignation, un aveu d’impuissance politique. Et puis le mouvement nationaliste d’émancipation des années 1960 et suivantes, celui de René Lévesque, progressiste et tourné vers l’avenir, avait mis la hache dans cette survivance passéiste.

Il faudrait que François Legault nous dise si son nationalisme est essentiellement conservateur, essentialiste et défensif, ou s’il s’agit d’un nationalisme progressiste — existentialiste, pourrait-on dire —, qui parle d’avenir et s’appuie sur le pluralisme et le métissage qui caractérisent déjà la nation québécoise. Quand François Legault répète « c’est comme ça qu’on vit au Québec », une formule pour le moins maladroite, et qu’il en rajoute avec « c’est comme ça qu’on parle au Québec », on peut se demander où il s’en va avec ses skis. Le français est la langue commune certes, mais il se parle des centaines de langues au Québec, y compris des langues autochtones.

Le gouvernement Legault a déjà amélioré les choses en matière d’immigration, que ce soit en francisation et en soutien à l’intégration, et le chantier n’est pas terminé. Mais il devrait revenir à l’esprit de Gérald Godin : les immigrants pour la plupart veulent s’intégrer à la nation québécoise et contribuer à sa culture vivante et originale, dont nous pouvons nous enorgueillir. C’est ça aussi, être fier.

Source: Survivance et résignation

La maîtrise de l’immigration, «une question de survie», dit Legault

Quebec/federal relations continue to be challenged. Will see how this plays out after the Quebec election and the degree to which federal parties accommodate or set limits:

À quatre mois des élections générales, François Legault fait de l’obtention de nouveaux pouvoirs en matière d’immigration une condition sine qua non à la survie de la nation québécoise.

Le chef de la Coalition avenir Québec propose de hisser le thème de l’immigration parmi les principaux sujets de discussion de la campagne électorale — qui battra son plein à la fin de l’été — afin que « les Québécois comprennent bien l’urgence de rapatrier les pouvoirs » de sélection de quelque 11 000 immigrants inscrits au programme de regroupement familial, qui lui échappent à l’heure actuelle.

Si la « moitié » des participants du programme de regroupement familial continuent de bouder le français comme ils le font présentement, « ça peut devenir une question de temps avant qu’on devienne une Louisiane », a soutenu M. Legault dimanche, tout en évoquant des études gouvernementales sur le sujet.

« Je demande, aux prochaines élections, un mandat fort pour aller négocier ça avec le gouvernement fédéral », a-t-il fait valoir lors du discours de clôture du congrès national de la CAQ, à Drummondville.

François Legault s’est par la suite abstenu de préciser, devant les journalistes, les contours du « mandat fort » qu’il sollicite auprès de l’électorat québécois le 3 octobre prochain. « À partir du moment où on a l’appui d’une majorité de Québécois, c’est dur pour les partis politiques fédéraux de refuser cette demande-là [et] de gagner au fédéral sans appui au Québec », s’est-il contenté de dire.

« Avec tout ce qui se passe chez les conservateurs », un nouveau parti politique plus sensible aux revendications québécoises pourrait apparaître sur la scène politique fédérale d’ici le prochain scrutin fédéral, a-t-il dit.

Référendum sectoriel

Le chef du gouvernement québécois a rejeté l’idée avancée par des membres de la CAQ au cours du week-end de tenir un « référendum sectoriel » en immigration afin d’établir un rapport de force plus favorable. « Ce n’est pas dans les plans », a-t-il mentionné. « Ça suffit le niaisage ! […] La première initiative de la prochaine législature devra être l’organisation d’un référendum sur l’immigration », avait fait valoir le militant de Terrebonne Kevin Serafini samedi. « Bravo ! » avait spontanément crié une sympathisante caquiste. Les membres se sont toutefois bien gardés de l’ajouter dans le cahier de 23 propositions qu’ils ont remis au gouvernement de François Legault.

En revanche, ils se sont par exemple dits favorables à l’idée d’ajouter un cours obligatoire d’histoire et de culture du Québec au programme collégial, de concevoir un « catalogue de grandes œuvres artistiques québécoises » pour les enseignants et de mettre sur pied un musée de l’Histoire nationale du Québec. Le président régional Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean de la Commission Relève de la CAQ, Samuel Massicotte, y voit notamment une occasion de donner tort à Lord Durham, selon qui les descendants des Français formaient un « peuple sans histoire et sans littérature ». « On survit encore, malgré certaines tentatives d’un autre ordre de gouvernement de nier notre langue, de nier nos droits. On continue de s’accrocher », a souligné l’enseignant en histoire.

Turbulences économiques ?

À l’approche du rendez-vous électoral, François Legault a exhorté les électeurs québécois à rejeter les propositions des oppositions de gauche, convaincue que « l’argent pousse dans les arbres », et de droite, muette face aux changements climatiques. « Quand les temps sont pleins d’incertitudes, de turbulences et de dangers économiques, ce n’est pas le temps de se lancer dans des aventures avec des idéologues de gauche ou de droite. En fait, quand la mer est houleuse, c’est le temps de confier la barre à une équipe compétente, expérimentée, solide ! » a-t-il déclaré sur la scène du Centrexpo Cogeco, entouré de la plupart des personnes qui brigueront les suffrages sous la bannière de la CAQ. La présidente-directrice générale du CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, Sonia Bélanger, était dans le lot.

Le premier ministre a plus tard expliqué son changement de ton sur les perspectives économiques québécoises en parlant de projections d’économistes évoquant « 40 % de chances » de récession mondiale. D’ailleurs, la hausse graduelle du taux directeur de la Banque du Canada « n’est rien pour aider l’économie », a-t-il fait remarquer aux médias.

Dans un deuxième mandat, un gouvernement caquiste pratiquera une « gestion rigoureuse des finances publiques », ce qui ne l’empêchera pas de donner un coup de pouce aux Québécois pour « passer au travers » de la hausse du coût de la vie, a indiqué M. Legault devant des centaines de militants gonflés à bloc. Ceux-ci avaient reçu pour consigne de frapper leurs bâtons gonflables, un bleu, un blanc, à l’appel du mot « fierté ». « Sans la prospérité, la fierté manque de moyens. Puis sans la fierté, la prospérité manque de sens. Ça prend les deux », a insisté le chef caquiste en précampagne électorale.

Source: La maîtrise de l’immigration, «une question de survie», dit Legault

And a comparable article in English:

Premier François Legault gave a glimpse into what his provincial election campaign will look like Sunday, with a speech outlining his plan to demand Ottawa hand over more immigration powers to Quebec.

Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), Legault’s party, held its caucus in Drummondville, Que., this weekend, a city in the Eastern Townships southeast of Montreal.

Legault told the crowd of about 1,000 people there he wants to ask Quebecers for a “strong mandate” in the Oct. 3 election to be a powerful negotiator with Ottawa on matters of immigration.

The speech Legault gave, which he dubbed “Pride,” was heavily nationalist, calling for the preservation of the French language, Quebec culture and listing the passing of Bills 21 (on secularism) and 96 (the overhaul of the Charter of the French language) as wins for his government.

“We changed Quebec,” he said.

Bill 21 outlaws civil servants in positions of authority, including teachers, lawyers, police officers and judges, from wearing religious garb or symbols. In practice, the law has for the most part affected female Muslim teachers who wear head scarves.

While Quebec manages economic immigration to the province — a power other provinces and territories in Canada do not have — the federal government is responsible for family reunification and the admission of refugees, representing close to half of newcomers to the province every year.

Legault said he wants Quebec to be able to choose much of that remaining half, except for refugees, so that it can prioritize French-speaking foreigners. He said that family reunification cases represent about 11,000 of the 50,000 people who immigrate to the province every year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far rejected Legault’s calls for Quebec to have complete control over immigration into the province but has pointed to Bill C-13 tabled by the federal Liberals, which in part aims to increase immigration from French-speaking countries.

Legault said it was a question of the survival of the French language in the province, pointing to the state of Louisiana as an example of a place that used to be predominantly French-speaking but no longer is, surrounded by a nearly monolingual English-speaking country.

“It’s important for Quebecers to understand that it’s a question of survival,” for a French-speaking Quebec, he said.

But when asked by a reporter if there were government studies on the impacts of family reunification and the use of French, Legault’s answer wasn’t clear.

“Is it too much to ask them to learn before moving to Quebec? Is it too much? I don’t think so,” he said.

A heavily criticized clause in Bill 96, which was voted into law last week, calls on refugees to learn French within six months of arriving to Quebec, after which they can no longer access most public services in another language.

Critics say six months is not enough to become fluent in French, and that the clause will make it difficult for immigrants to access basic services.

Tuesday, after the law passed, Legault gave reporters a heads up that he wanted to turn to pressuring the federal government to handing over its immigration levers.

“That’s where the focus should be,” in protecting French, he said.

Critics say policies go beyond language

But some critics see Legault’s focus on legislation targeting minorities as a way to appeal to his voter base, largely composed of older portions of the Quebec population and those living outside of major cities.

Some groups helping immigrants, migrant workers and refugees in Montreal believe Quebec is creating a two-tiered immigration system, making it harder for non-French-speaking people to access permanent residency, while relying more heavily on a vulnerable temporary foreign workforce to fill serious labour shortages.

“I doubt it’s solely a question of the French language,” said Mostafa Henaway, an advocate at the Immigrant Workers’ Centre, in an interview last week.

Indigenous leaders across the province have also denounced Legault’s government for failing to listen to their calls to be exempt from Bill 96, saying their sovereignty and language revitalization efforts are at stake.

On Sunday, Legault made no mention of the labour shortage or of problems with access to health care — such as emergency room capacities, surgery wait lists and a shortage of family doctors. He said he would unveil a health care plan at some point in the campaign.

Statistics Canada reported in the fall that there were 279,000 job vacancies in Quebec in 2021.

Four months away from the October election, the CAQ has already recruited candidates in more than 100 electoral districts, and so far half of those candidates are women. The party still has 29 out of 125 candidates to name.

Source: Legault pledges to demand more control from Ottawa over immigration to Quebec

How the Grinch stole Chanukah: secularism is not a veil for systemic racism

Legitimate observation on timing, whether this was intentional or blindness:

In the same week that an elementary school teacher was removed from her classroom in Quebec for wearing a hijab, the Legault government announced it will loosen the rules for indoor gatherings right in time for Christmas.

I hate to be a Grinch, but in this multi-faith household as we put away the menorah and bring out the Christmas lights, I question when Quebec will stop pretending to be a secular society.

What a coincidence that at this time last year, the CAQ also considered allowing larger gatherings for Christmas, right when holidays from other faiths, such as Chanukah and Diwali, had ended. 

The Legault government preaches about separation between church and state, puts into law Bill 21 preventing public servants (teachers, police, judges, etc.) from wearing religious symbols, and insists that systemic racism is not an issue in Quebec; yet we are expected to believe that loosening of public health measures on Dec. 23 is linked to the state and not the church.

Quebec is not a religiously neutral society; it is a Catholic-based society. Its institutions close for Christmas and Easter; countless streets, towns, hospital, and schools are named after saints; and the crucifix that hung prominently in the national assembly for decades was only recently removed, following much debate and push back. 

Even Bill 21, an act respecting the laicity of state, accommodates those who practice the Catholic faith, since donning a cross around the neck can be concealed, unlike a hijab, turban, or kippah worn on the head.

As this questionable bill impede the lives of marginalized Quebecers, the CAQ government dares, once more, to tempt pandemic fate in the name of Christmas.

Linking new rules for private gatherings to one specific holiday will, of course, never be publicly stated. Instead, it is conveniently suggested that the timing is due to a stabilization in the number of hospitalizations, the fact that the Omicron variant is not circulating widely in the province, that children over five are now being vaccinated. 

This pandemic has brought many issues to light, including the value of critical thinking. Much information is believable when taken at face value, but even evidence-based facts, like statistics, can be misleading when twisted the right way. 

There is no denying that Quebec has done well in its vaccination and public health efforts, but as the world grapples with mutations of a virus that aims to outsmart us, are we to naively believe that this province will be spared because it is Christmas?

Making progress in halting a global pandemic is hardly an excuse for loosening rules, which miraculously coincide with the birth of Jesus. 

If we really want to understand secularism, pay attention to COVID-19, which makes no distinction for any faith in its path of destruction. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus … one multicultural society battling this virus together.

As the candles go out on Chanukah and the Christmas trees light up, let’s be reminded that a secular society caters not to any one faith. Secularism, Mr. Legault, is not a vail for systemic racism.

Susan Mintzberg is a PhD candidate in social work at McGill University. Her research focuses on the role of family caregivers in mental health care.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/12/13/how-the-grinch-stole-chanukah-secularism-is-not-a-vail-for-systemic-racism.html

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/

Urback: François Legault’s nationalist brand can’t handle the words ‘systemic racism’

Another commentaries:

The coroner’s report into the preventable death of Atikamekw woman Joyce Echaquan in a Joliette, Que., hospital last year is one long, illustrated definition of “systemic racism.” It describes a system that functions off implicit assumptions (this Indigenous woman is agitated, maybe she’s on drugs) and differential treatment (let’s just strap her to the bed; no need to give her options), all of which, according to coroner Gehane Kamel, led to Ms. Echaquan’s death.

The same forces of structural discrimination and bias killed 45-year-old Brian Sinclair of the Sagkeeng First Nation, who languished in a Winnipeg emergency room for 34 hours with a treatable infection in 2008. And they explain why staff at a Northwest Territories care home assumed Aklavik elder Hugh Papik was drunk when he was actually having a massive stroke in 2016.

Individual acts of anti-Indigenous racism certainly contributed to each outcome. But nurses don’t mock patients crying out in pain without someone intervening, as happened in Ms. Echaquan’s case, unless bias and racism have seeped into the walls.

And yet, Quebec Premier François Legault has refused to yield to the coroner’s finding that systemic racism contributed to Ms. Echaquan’s death. His intransigence is odd, not only because the evidence presented in Ms. Kamel’s report is so unequivocal, but because the remedies Mr. Legault’s government has instituted are distinctly systemic in nature. Indeed, there would be no reason to introduce mandatory sensitivity training for all employees at the Joliette hospital, or to name a representative of the Manawan community to the board of the health authority overseeing the hospital, if the problem was just a couple of rogue nurses.

Clearly, Mr. Legault understands there is a systemic problem in Quebec’s health care system, but the phrase “systemic racism” is to the Premier what Macbeth is to theatre actors: It cannot be said aloud.

For Mr. Legault, this goes beyond bog-standard political stubbornness. The Premier has been largely successful in building a new brand of Quebec nationalism, which is less about traditional sovereignty and more about autonomy within Canada, protection of the French language and a collectivist, shared identity for Quebeckers. His government introduced Bill 96, which seeks to amend the 1867 Constitution Act to recognize that “Quebecers form a nation.” Mr. Legault also got the party leaders in recent federal election campaigns to yield to his demand to let the province control its immigration agenda and succeeded in making Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole promise to respect Quebec’s “distinct system” of child care.

Mr. Legault’s popularity among Quebeckers – which did drop last month but has nevertheless remained remarkably high throughout the pandemic – is rooted in this unapologetic nationalist pride and perceived control over the players in Ottawa. And he’s made headway in the perennial struggle to have Quebec recognized as a distinct society within Canada.

But to admit that the province’s health care system is systemically racist, even in response to a coroner’s report that pretty much spells it out, is to yield to the idea that Quebec’s distinct society is a broken one. It’s off-brand for Mr. Legault. He couldn’t say it after the Viens Commission report was tabled in 2019 – and he still can’t say it now.

The other impediment to Mr. Legault stating the obvious is that it would be somewhat contradictory for the Premier to acknowledge systemic racism in Quebec health care while defending legislation, Bill 21, that enshrined systemic racism in law in regards to hiring and employment practices in the public sector. Mr. Legault knows that prohibiting people in certain jobs from wearing religious symbols is unconstitutional, which is why his government pre-emptively invoked the notwithstanding clause when it introduced the bill. And it’s unmistakable that the law disproportionately affects certain groups of people – such as Muslim teachers who wear hijabs – which renders this policy of state-imposed secularism not universally oppressive but systemically discriminatory.

Anyone with eyes and a modicum of reading comprehension skills would come away from Ms. Kamel’s report with an understanding of how systemic racism contributed to Ms. Echaquan’s death. Mr. Legault has both, but he also has a brand to protect. And as long as that brand is thriving off the Premier’s unapologetic nationalism and lack of introspection, the words “systemic racism” cannot leave his lips.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-francois-legaults-nationalist-brand-cant-handle-the-words-systemic/

David: Le taureau [Premier Legault denial of systemic racism]

Good commentary by Michel David:

Le premier ministre François Legault avait déjà gâché une bonne occasion d’élever le débat en se lançant dans une charge partisane totalement déplacée à l’Assemblée nationale le jour de l’anniversaire de la mort de Joyce Echaquan.

Il a été encore plus désolant de l’entendre justifier son refus de décréter un jour férié pour marquer la réconciliation avec les Premières Nations par le tort que cela causerait à la productivité de l’économie québécoise.

Le geste aurait pourtant été élégant, bien que la plupart des provinces n’aient pas suivi non plus l’exemple d’Ottawa. Mais faire valoir un argument aussi mercantile traduisait un manque d’empathie désolant. M. Legault aurait pu simplement dire qu’il préfère les gestes concrets aux commémorations symboliques ; on aurait difficilement pu lui donner tort.

Dans des provinces où la productivité est plus élevée qu’au Québec, comme l’Ontario, la Colombie-Britannique ou l’Alberta, il y a plus de jours fériés. Inversement, des provinces dont la productivité est moindre, comme Terre-Neuve ou la Nouvelle-Écosse, en offrent moins.

Ce n’est pas la première fois que son obsession économique lui fait oublier que le rôle d’un gouvernement est aussi de contribuer à bâtir une société plus humaine et plus juste. Lors de la réforme du Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ), il ne semblait ni comprendre ni être touché par le drame vécu par ceux qui s’en étaient prévalus dans l’espoir de s’installer au Québec, et qui voyaient soudainement leur rêve brisé après avoir tout quitté. À ses yeux, la satisfaction des besoins du marché du travail constituait le seul critère.

Personne ne conteste la qualité du travail effectué par le ministre responsable des Affaires autochtones, Ian Lafrenière, dont le doigté a permis de renouer un dialogue qui était pratiquement rompu, mais la participation du premier ministre aux cérémonies de commémoration de la Journée nationale de la vérité et de la réconciliation aurait mieux témoigné de la détermination de l’État et de la nation québécoise à établir des relations avec les Premières Nations sur de nouvelles bases.

Tant que M. Legault s’entêtera à nier que les Autochtones sont victimes de « racisme systémique », il sera très difficile de les convaincre de la sincérité de ses intentions. Mais il semble voir rouge et fonce comme un taureau dès que ces mots sont prononcés. Cette semaine, il donnait l’impression d’avoir un urgent besoin de vacances.

Après avoir crié sur tous les toits qu’on cherchait à culpabiliser les Québécois, il s’est lui-même condamné au déni. Après la commission Viens, voilà pourtant que la coroner qui a enquêté sur la mort de Joyce Echaquan arrive elle aussi à la conclusion que le racisme systémique est bel et bien réel. Fait-elle aussi partie de ces wokes radicaux qui se complaisent dans le dénigrement du Québec ?

Évidemment, à partir du moment où M. Legault reconnaîtrait que les Autochtones sont victimes de racisme systémique, il deviendrait encore plus difficile de prétendre que les minorités visibles ne le sont pas. Les droits que des millénaires d’occupation du territoire confèrent aux uns rendraient-ils plus acceptable la discrimination envers les autres ?

Depuis trois ans, M. Legault s’est employé à redonner aux Québécois une fierté et une confiance en eux-mêmes que les lendemains difficiles du référendum de 1995 et la dégénérescence des mœurs politiques sous la gouverne libérale avaient mis à mal, mais il ne rend pas service au Québec en l’enfonçant dans un débat stérile dont il ne peut pas sortir grandi. L’année électorale s’annonce inquiétante.

Il est vrai que le concept de « racisme systémique » n’est pas facile à saisir, mais il est désolant de voir le premier ministre le déformer pour mieux le rejeter. À l’entendre, il s’agirait simplement d’une nouvelle arme utilisée par ceux qui se complaisent dans le Quebec bashing. En matière de relations avec les Autochtones, le Canada anglais n’a certainement pas de leçons à donner, mais la turpitude des uns ne saurait justifier celle des autres.

Les Québécois ont le sentiment qu’eux-mêmes ont toujours été victimes de discrimination depuis la Conquête. Ils sont donc bien placés pour comprendre à quel point la coexistence de deux cultures et de deux modes de vie peut être difficile, surtout quand on est en situation minoritaire.

Ils peuvent légitimement être fiers de ce qu’ils ont réussi à bâtir dans l’adversité, mais ils pourraient aussi tirer une grande fierté à avoir su aménager une société où chacun se sentirait chez lui, accepté et respecté tel qu’il est.

Le défi est de taille, mais M. Legault a démontré qu’il ne manque pas de cœur à l’ouvrage. On peut se féliciter d’avoir un taureau comme premier ministre, à la condition qu’il fonce dans la bonne direction.

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/chroniques/637374/chronique-le-taureau?utm_source=infolettre-2021-10-02&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

Dutrisac: Placer ses pions (identity politics and polarization in Quebec)

Of interest:

Les élections à date fixe ont un effet pervers : comme on connaît l’échéance électorale, il s’instaure, avant la campagne officielle d’une trentaine de jours habituellement, une précampagne informelle qui peut durer des mois. Or, à plus d’un an des élections d’octobre 2022, François Legault place déjà ses pions, comme on l’a vu à l’ouverture de la session parlementaire cette semaine.

On a dit que le premier ministre avait été « piqué au vif » quand le nouveau chef parlementaire de Québec solidaire (QS), Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, l’a accusé d’imiter Maurice Duplessis. Rien n’est moins sûr. Il a plutôt semblé sauter, tel un félin, sur l’occasion, que lui offrait le solidaire sur un plateau d’argent, de le qualifier de woke.

Chez les caquistes, on parle sans gêne aucune de former une union des Bleus, une nouvelle union nationale. Le sentiment que la souveraineté n’est plus dans l’air du temps — leur idée première —, associé à la dégénérescence du Parti québécois, les conforte dans cette ambition unificatrice. François Legault ne ressent pas d’aversion viscérale envers le « cheuf ». Il n’a pas hésité au printemps dernier à livrer sur les réseaux sociaux qu’il avait lu avec intérêt l’essai Duplessis est encore en vie, de Pierre B. Berthelot. Il a révélé qu’il avait été marqué par une scène de la remarquable série télévisée Duplessis, de Denys Arcand.

Il est ironique que Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois se fasse traiter de woke puisqu’il incarne au sein de QS la gauche classique, celle qui fait grand cas des inégalités sociales, et qu’il a dû lutter contre une faction de la gauche identitaire radicale au sein du parti, le Collectif antiraciste décolonial.

Revenant de lui-même sur le sujet au lendemain de son échange avec le chef solidaire, le premier ministre nous a donné sa propre définition d’un woke : « C’est quelqu’un qui veut nous rendre coupables de défendre la nation québécoise, de défendre ses valeurs, comme on l’avait fait avec la loi 21, de défendre nos compétences », a-t-il dit. Il y a deux partis multiculturalistes, le Parti libéral du Québec et QS, qui sont contre la loi 21 sur la laïcité, caractérise-t-il.

Évidemment, François Legault tourne les coins ronds. On peut être nationaliste et s’opposer à la loi 21. Dans le passé, plusieurs souverainistes au sein du PQ ont d’ailleurs exprimé leurs réserves relativement à l’interdiction du port de signes religieux.

Habilement, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois a fait semblant de ne pas savoir ce que c’était un woke. D’ailleurs, comme l’écrivait notre journaliste Stéphane Baillargeon, si la définition du mot telle qu’elle est contenue dans l’Oxford English Dictionary est simple (le fait d’être « conscient des problèmes sociaux et politiques, en particulier le racisme »), certaines manifestations du phénomène, qui se présentent comme une exacerbation du « politically correct » — la culture du bannissement (cancel culture), la censure et l’autocensure à l’université, et maintenant l’autodafé —, conduisent à un extrémisme qui recourt à l’affect plutôt qu’à la raison. Sur les campus universitaires, ce « crois ou meurs » bien-pensant, cette ferveur presque religieuse ne sont pas sans rappeler l’orthodoxie liberticide et anti-intellectualiste des militants marxistes-léninistes et maoïstes des années 1970.

Agissant en chef de parti qui prépare le terrain du prochain affrontement électoral, François Legault, loin de la réflexion sociologique, a voulu définir ses adversaires en grossissant le trait et proposer un choix binaire entre le duplessisme et le wokisme, entre la défense de la nation et le progressisme multiculturaliste. Dans cette dichotomie, solidaires et libéraux se retrouvent dans le même sac. Quant aux péquistes, ils ne figurent plus, ou à peine, dans l’équation.

Le grand gagnant de cette semaine parlementaire, c’est sans aucun doute Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, qui faisait ses premières armes dans sa nouvelle fonction. Le chef de la deuxième opposition a éclipsé la cheffe de l’opposition officielle, Dominique Anglade. La perspective que les solidaires puissent incarner la véritable opposition à l’Assemblée nationale va dans le sens d’une polarisation qui ne peut que réjouir les caquistes. Rappelons d’ailleurs que QS est maintenant le deuxième parti après la CAQ chez les francophones avec environ 15 % des intentions de vote, soit au moins une fois et demie plus d’appuis que le Parti libéral.

La CAQ pratique ainsi une forme de politique de la division ou de polarisation (wedge politics) qui semble désormais bien ancrée dans les mœurs partisanes. C’est détestable. Mais comme l’a déjà dit Brian Mulroney, cité récemment par Michel C. Auger, « en politique, il est important d’avoir des amis, mais il est encore plus important d’avoir des ennemis ». Et s’ils peuvent se trouver à un extrême du spectre politique, c’est encore mieux.

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/editoriaux/633687/duplessis-et-les-placer-ses-pions?utm_source=infolettre-2021-09-20&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

Freeman: Quebec Premier François Legault is our most dangerous politician

Valid concerns:

I’ve long believed that Quebec Premier François Legault was the most dangerous politician in Canada, and that his right-wing Quebec nationalism is as serious a threat to the future of the country as René Lévesque’s Parti Québécois (PQ) was in the 1970s and 1980s.

Because Legault doesn’t explicitly urge independence for Quebec, Canadians, including federal politicians, have been lulled into thinking that his government isn’t a threat to the country’s future.

Yet there are no signs that Legault, a one-time PQ minister, has ever dropped his separatist views. Rather, he’s parked them away for short-term electoral purposes, and instead pursued a wildly successful policy of destroying Canadian federalism and the idea of Canada from within.

He’s convinced Quebecers that the National Assembly is the only legitimate representative voice of Quebec voters, and has worked to transform the federal government into a servant of the Quebec state. According to Legault, Ottawa has two purposes: to transfer powers to Quebec, or to hand it unlimited amounts of cash, with no strings attached. If you can get both at once, even better.

Legault has also done immense damage to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as Quebec’s own Human Rights Charter, by pushing through legislation that clearly discriminates against residents of Quebec simply because of their religious beliefs. And in his proposed draconian changes to the province’s language laws, he will further undermine the historic rights of Quebec’s English-speaking minority.

Rather than defend these minorities, federal politicians, led by Justin Trudeau, have quivered and surrendered to Legault’s attacks on fundamental Canadian values. Trudeau has promised to eviscerate the Official Languages Act by turning it into an act to promote French language, rather than to protect linguistic minorities equally, wherever they live. And he’s only weakly challenged Bill C-21, the despicable law against religious minorities.

With Legault’s remarkable outburst on Thursday — which included telling Quebecers whom to vote for on Sept. 20, so as to elect a Conservative minority government — he’s pursuing his policy of undermining the federal government and making it accede to his every demand.

In his statement, Legault instructed Quebec nationalists not to vote for the Liberals, NDP, or the Greens, who he claimed would give Quebec less autonomy. “I am a nationalist,” he said. “I want Quebec to be more autonomous.” When Legault says “autonomy,” we all know what that means. For him, it’s all about eroding federalism until it disappears.

He then added that Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives were a lesser evil, because O’Toole would give Legault more of what he wants. He likes O’Toole’s “approach,” and says it would be easier to negotiate with him. In other words, he considers O’Toole a potential useful idiot.

But Legault doesn’t like the fact that O’Toole would rip up the Liberal daycare policy, depriving Quebec of its $6-billion payout under the deal. Who knows? Maybe O’Toole is so desperate, he’ll now promise that cash to Legault, as well. The Conservative leader has already promised to hand over administration of federal income tax to Quebec, a crazy idea that will further erode federal sovereignty in a key area.

Legault also likes O’Toole because he’s promised to finance 40 per cent of the costs of a Quebec City tunnel, a Legault boondoggle Ottawa has no business being involved in.

As for Trudeau, he looks like a dupe. The daycare deal shows how Legault has taken the naive Trudeau to the cleaners and gets zero credit for the operation. Instead of devising a well-thought-out federal daycare plan and asking that all provinces adhere to certain principles to be part of it, Trudeau claimed that the flawed Quebec program was perfect and should be copied by all provinces. And instead of insisting that Quebec correct the flaws in that program, he opened his cheque book to Legault, effectively paying him for something he was doing in the first place.

Trudeau has shown the same kind of spineless approach to defending religious and language minorities in Quebec, figuring that accommodation was always better than confrontation. His father never operated under those illusions when dealing with Quebec separatists, and still managed to get elected. But Pierre Trudeau had principles.

Will Quebec voters follow Papa Legault and do what he says on Sept. 20? Hard to say. It’s unlikely they’ll vote in droves for O’Toole, but this could be the boost the Bloc Québécois has been looking for. Without picking up extra seats in Quebec, Trudeau might find that his quest for even a minority government has become more difficult.

But what about voters in the rest of the country? If I were Erin O’Toole, I’d be worried. If Legault thinks the Conservatives are an easy mark, English Canadians might figure they’re better off sticking with the Liberals. Trudeau might be squishy when it comes to Legault, but at least he doesn’t have the covert blessing of a man who would destroy Canada.

Source: Quebec Premier François Legault is our most dangerous politician

Legault lays out Quebec’s demands, criticizes ‘centralist’ Liberal and NDP campaigns

Of note, the call for Quebec to have responsibility for family class immigration:

Quebec Premier François Legault weighed into the federal election campaign on Thursday, making health care and immigration his priorities and criticizing the Liberal and NDP platforms as out of step with nationalists in the province…

Immigration excerpt

Mr. Legault said health care and immigration reform are the two “crucial” issues on a list of requests he laid out in a letter to all federal parties. He said he’s calling on federal leaders to support giving Quebec control over the family reunification category of immigration so it can impose language requirements.

“We need to remember that Quebec is an island of francophones in a sea of anglophones in North America. It’s math. If new immigrants don’t integrate, don’t learn French, well then, it’s the future of the French language, the future of our nation, that is at stake,” he said.

Quebec is a key battleground for all federal parties as it accounts for nearly a quarter of the 338 seats in the House of Commons. Quebec voters have also been the source of dramatic swings in party support in recent federal campaigns, adding a sense of unpredictability to how the province may vote on Sept. 20.

The Liberals won 35 of the province’s 78 seats in 2019, followed by 32 seats for the Bloc Québécois, 10 for the Conservatives and one for the NDP. Several candidates won by the slimmest of margins, including Liberal cabinet ministers Jean-Yves Duclos in a Quebec City area riding and Diane Lebouthillier in Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

….

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-legault-lays-out-quebecs-demands-criticizes-centralist-liberal-and-ndp/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Morning%20Update&utm_content=2021-8-27_6&utm_term=Morning%20Update:%20Canada%20ends%20Kabul%20rescue%20flights,%20texts%20those%20left%20behind%20to%20stay%20indoors&utm_campaign=newsletter&cu_id=%2BTx9qGuxCF9REU6kNldjGJtpVUGIVB3Y

Chris Selley: Don’t you start with the ‘Quebec-bashing’ accusations, Justin Trudeau

Of note:

Certain Quebec politicians and commentators are terribly insulted on the province’s behalf. No need to hold the front page; it’s the same basic melodrama as always.

As is his wont, University of Ottawa professor and Twitter fanatic Amir Attaran has been infuriating people. This time, he tweeted mean things about Quebec: it is “led by a white supremacist government”; it’s “the Alabama of the north”; he accused the hospital employees caught on video verbally torturing Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman who died in a Lanaudière hospital last year, of carrying out a “medical lynching.”

As is their wont, Quebec nationalists including Premier François Legault and Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon demand satisfaction. “I ask you to condemn publicly Mr. Attaran’s words and apologize to Quebecers,” Plamondon wrote to U of O president and vice-chancellorJacques Frémont. “I also ask you to intervene (to ensure) he stops this behaviour, and to apply proportional sanctions.”

As is its wont, U of O did what a university should not: offered an opinion. “I deplore these kinds of highly polarizing statements made in public forums,” Frémont wrote back to Plamondon.

At least Frémont declined to discipline Attaran. And his response wasn’t all bad: “Freedom of expression, we will agree, is not a buffet where one can pick and choose what kind of speech is deemed acceptable,” he wrote — a fine statement in principle, and in theory quite a good comeback. Quebec nationalists have recently adopted freedom of expression, academic and otherwise, as a major cause, lest (as Legault recently put it) “radical militants” send “censorship spilling out into our political debates and our media.”

In practice, however, Quebec’s notion of academic freedom tends to evaporate precisely at the moment it wounds the collective amour propre. Thus, many in Quebec who deplored the suspension of U of O professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval for using the N-word in an academic context now want Attaran’s ears boxed. Four years ago, some of the same people successfully demanded Andrew Potter’s departure from McGill’s Institute for the Study of Canada for suggesting a “malaise (was) eating away at … Quebec society.”

Also in practice, Frémont, who was happy to throw Lieutenant-Duval to the wolves (she was later reinstated), is in no position to be making such pronouncements. And it did no good anyway: In a Monday press conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the topic of broadband funding, Legault said he was disappointed Frémont hadn’t condemned Attaran more harshly.

If anyone’s behaving a little differently than usual in this rote performance, it’s Trudeau. “Enough of the Quebec-bashing,” he said at the press conference, borrowing a phrase most commonly used by nationalists — including against him and his government.

When it comes to harsh allegations of racism against Canadian institutions , “Quebec bashing” is largely a misnomer. Trudeau knows very well they aren’t only directed at Quebec and Quebecers. In 2017 the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto called Trudeau “a white supremacist terrorist.” Reactions to Trudeau’s blackface problem were replete with such charges. Among Indigenous activists, the terminology of structural racism is de rigueur. And Trudeau uses it himself.

“There is systemic discrimination in Canada, which means our systems treat Canadians of colour … differently than they do others,” he said last year, responding to protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The real difference is that Quebec is uniquely sensitive to criticism in general, and bizarrely resistant specifically to the notion that state apparatuses might have discrimination baked into them that can manifest irrespective of any individual actor’s intentions.

“This is yet another example of systemic racism,” Trudeau said of Echaquan’s death at the time.

Legault responded with a perfect circle of logic. “My role as premier … is to bring Quebecers together, to take action … to fight racism,” he said. He didn’t want to “alienate the large number of Quebecers who think there is no systemic racism in Quebec.”

The Liberals have pulled off a neat trick throughout Quebec’s 15-year battle over minority religious rights, which has culminated (for now) in Bill 21, the ban on teachers, Crown attorneys and some other civil servants wearing hijabs and turbans and kippas: They have maintained their “party of the Charter” brand, opposing such restrictions with while not suffering much for it in Quebec.

On the issue of Bill 21, Trudeau hardly covered himself in glory during the 2019 campaign: “I am the only one on the stage who has said ‘yes: a federal government might have to intervene on this’,” he half-heartedly boasted during a leaders’ debate. But it was slightly further than Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh who wears a turban, would go, and much further than stalwart religious-rights defender Andrew Scheer would. The Conservatives lost two seats in Quebec; the NDP lost 15. Trudeau kept his job, with plenty of Quebec MPs behind him.

The Conservatives are accelerating their pitch. Erin O’Toole’s Saturday keynote speech at the Conservatives’ convention reiterated special promises to Quebec: a single tax-return (which it could have now if it just agreed to have Ottawa collect the money) and expanding French language laws into areas of federal jurisdiction, based on no compelling evidence that French (as opposed to unilingualism) is imperilled in Quebec. It’s an unsavoury and quite likely doomed endeavour.

The Liberals’ advantage here is by no means entirely earned: The party’s various Montreal fortresses aren’t impregnable for any especially good reason. But that’s all the more reason for them to stay well away from the sandbox of nationalist grievances. It’s one of the few scraps of principle any federal political party has left.

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/chris-selley-dont-you-start-with-the-quebec-bashing-accusations-justin-trudeau/wcm/fdfea6b9-78eb-4168-9096-459a84c870ef