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

L’expérimentation multiculturaliste

As in the separate post on Ivison’s legitimated critique of different messages in English and French regarding limits to freedom of speech, what I found more interesting that some of the usual misunderstandings of multiculturalism in Quebec, the realization that Quebec’s demographic weight will continue to decline as the rest of Canada continues to increase immigration while Quebec immigration remains largely flat:

La semaine dernière, après avoir atermoyé pendant 12 jours, Justin Trudeau a finalement réagi à la décapitation par un islamiste radical de l’enseignant français Samuel Paty, qui avait montré à ses élèves des caricatures de Mahomet. Le premier ministre a dénoncé cet attentat terroriste tout en plaidant pour qu’on abaisse les tensions. « On ne doit pas avoir d’autres tisons pour accroître les flammes », a-t-il dit. Il s’engageait à parler à différents leaders, dont « des leaders dans la communauté musulmane ici au Canada pour comprendre leurs inquiétudes, leurs préoccupations ».

On pouvait y voir une critique à peine voilée d’Emmanuel Macron, qui s’est engagé à combattre le « séparatisme islamique » en France, tout en déplorant « la crise de l’Islam », un combat qui lui vaut les foudres de nombreux pays à majorité musulmane. « Nous ne céderons rien », a dit le président français, refusant que la liberté recule devant les menaces terroristes.

Le premier ministre canadien en a rajouté une couche. Interrogé sur ce droit de dessiner Mahomet, il a affirmé que la liberté d’expression avait des limites et qu’elle devait s’exercer dans « le respect des autres » et dans le souci « de ne pas blesser de façon arbitraire ou inutile ». Il recevait l’appui sans équivoque du chef du Nouveau Parti démocratiqueJagmeet Singh.

Or, mardi, Justin Trudeau a fait volte-face en reconnaissant que « nos journalistes, nos artistes ont un rôle dans la société de nous confronter et nous devons les laisser libres de faire leur travail ».

Pourtant, sa conception du respect, voire de la bienséance, qui doit limiter la liberté d’expression est parfaitement compatible avec la position qu’il avait adoptée au sujet de la liberté d’enseignement et de ces professeures sanctionnées pour avoir utilisé, à des fins pédagogiques, un mot qui blesse des étudiants noirs.

La liberté d’expression et d’opinion est un droit fondamental de nos sociétés démocratiques, un droit qui existait bien avant l’adoption de nos chartes des droits et libertés. Le droit canadien est clair : en dehors des propos haineux, des appels à la violence, de la diffamation qui cause un dommage et du harcèlement, la liberté d’expression est entière. La parole peut ne pas être vraie ou vertueuse ; elle peut blesser. La même chose peut être dite de la liberté d’enseignement, tout aussi fondamentale, qui est aussi celle de connaître, d’explorer, de critiquer.

Justin Trudeau peut prêcher la vertu multiculturelle si cela lui chante, mais il ne peut mettre en doute des libertés fondamentales auxquelles tient la grande majorité des Québécois. Et pour ce qui est de les représenter sur la scène internationale, on repassera. Il n’avait pas à prendre de haut le président français qui défend les valeurs de la République face à l’islam radical.

Le premier ministre François Legault a remis les pendules à l’heure : il a exprimé son appui indéfectible à Emmanuel Macron et à la France. Il s’est en pris à « certains dirigeants politiques qui craignent le terrorisme et qui, devant le chantage de certains groupes religieux radicaux, sont prêts à faire des accommodements qui ne sont pas raisonnables ». La nation québécoise a des valeurs et elle entend les défendre : la liberté d’expression, la laïcité, la langue française, a-t-il dit.

Deux conceptions s’opposent. Justin Trudeau n’a que le mot « communauté » à la bouche. Il parle de la communauté noire ou de la communauté musulmane comme s’il s’agissait de blocs monolithiques d’individus composant un « État post-national » — c’est son expression — devenu un assemblage multiculturel de communautés. Le Canada est d’ailleurs le seul pays où le multiculturalisme est inscrit dans sa constitution.

Dans cette optique, le peuple québécois n’est plus qu’un groupe ethnique parmi d’autres au Canada, les « Quebs », comme disent les jeunes anglophones du West-Island.

L’autre conception, c’est celle d’une nation québécoise qui tente de poursuivre son aventure en français avec tous ceux qui s’y joignent dans une perspective universaliste et démocratique.

Depuis l’élection des libéraux, le Canada a haussé à 250 000, puis à 300 000, puis, récemment, à 400 000 le nombre d’immigrants qu’il entend accueillir chaque année. Impossible pour le Québec de maintenir ce rythme : il lui faudrait accueillir 90 000 nouveaux arrivants par an, presque le double du niveau actuel. Dictée par Ottawa, cette réduction du poids politique de la nation québécoise au sein de la fédération n’a jamais fait l’objet d’un débat public. Pour certains, Justin Trudeau et l’élite torontoise qui le soutient sont engagés dans une expérimentation sociale inédite, une « a-nationalisation », pour ainsi dire, dont il faut discuter.0 commentaire 

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/editoriaux/589107/liberte-et-integrisme-l-experimentation-multiculturaliste?utm_source=infolettre-2020-11-05&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

Le racisme systémique sera exclu du rapport du groupe d’action, prévoit Legault

Consistent but misguided:

Le groupe d’action contre le racisme ne demandera pas au gouvernement du Québec de reconnaître le racisme systémique, a conclu avant même la fin des travaux le premier ministre François Legault.

Il répondait mardi aux questions sur le sujet lors d’une conférence de presse à Montréal, visant principalement à faire le point sur la situation du coronavirus au Québec.

Interrogé sur la question de savoir s’il allait reconnaître le racisme systémique si le groupe d’action le lui demandait, M. Legault a d’abord laissé entendre que la question était hypothétique.

Puis, se ravisant, il a répondu qu’il ne s’attendait pas à ce qu’une telle recommandation apparaisse dans le rapport final, car il en avait déjà discuté avec les membres du groupe.

Le groupe d’action contre le racisme a été formé par le gouvernement Legault en juin dernier dans la foulée de la mort de l’Américain George Floyd.

Il est composé uniquement d’élus caquistes, qui doivent réfléchir à des façons concrètes d’enrayer le racisme et déposer un rapport au premier ministre au plus tard cet automne.

Refus

François Legault a toujours refusé de reconnaître le racisme systémique, même après que de nombreux politiciens, dont les maires de Québec et de Montréal, et le premier ministre du Canada, Justin Trudeau, l’eurent reconnu dans des termes très clairs.

Mardi, M. Legault a continué de marteler qu’il existait deux groupes de Québécois : un groupe qui reconnaît le racisme systémique et l’autre qui ne le reconnaît pas.

« Mon rôle comme premier ministre du Québec, c’est de rassembler les Québécois, de poser des gestes, d’agir enfin […] pour lutter contre le racisme, [y compris] chez les policiers et dans les hôpitaux », a-t-il déclaré. « Pour moi, c’est ça la meilleure approche. Ce que je comprends, c’est que M. Trudeau en a une autre, c’est son choix. »

Ce serait une « erreur » de « se mettre à dos une bonne partie des Québécois qui pensent qu’il n’y a pas de système de racisme au Québec, comme le propose M. Trudeau », a poursuivi M. Legault.

Plus tôt, à Ottawa, le premier ministre Trudeau avait réitéré l’importance de reconnaître le racisme systémique, notamment en ce qui a trait aux peuples autochtones.

« Au gouvernement fédéral, nous savons depuis longtemps que de reconnaître le racisme systémique, c’est la première étape nécessaire pour marcher sur cette voie de réconciliation, d’éliminer ces barrières réelles et cette violence qui est trop souvent faite contre les peuples autochtones à travers le pays et aussi d’autres minorités visibles », a-t-il déclaré.

Il a également encouragé toute personne en position d’autorité, dont les chefs d’entreprise et les leaders communautaires, à reconnaître « la réalité du racisme systémique et à s’engager à lutter contre cette injustice qui dure depuis trop longtemps dans notre pays ».

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@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

François Legault sticks to position that systemic racism doesn’t exist in Quebec

In contrast to Ontario’s Premier Ford who walked back his initial comment.  Consistent with his general positions on multiculturalism and diversity, restrictive approach to immigration, and the head covering ban for public servants and teachers:

A day after demonstrators in Montreal criticized Francois Legault for his refusal to acknowledge systemic racism in the province, the Quebec premier held firm on his position.

Legault told reporters in Montreal on Monday he’s committed to implementing a plan to stamp out racism in the province and expects details in the coming days.

Thousands marched in Montreal on Sunday in an anti-racism rally, with some expressing frustration with Legault’s stance.

But Legault said he doesn’t want to get drawn into a war over the term “systemic,” nor does he want it to turn into a trial of Quebecers – the vast majority of whom Legault says aren’t racist.

The premier conceded that racism exists and called for a “quiet evolution” on the matter to deal with it – evoking the province’s Quiet Revolution in the 1960s that brought about social and political change in Quebec society.

Legault noted black members of his own caucus have recounted their own experiences with racism, and he repeated a promise to go beyond rhetoric and establish a provincial policy to fight racism.

“For me, we have Quebecers of different colours, different origins, but we are all human beings and we’re all equals, no exceptions,” Legault said. “But we must face the reality and the problems lived by some of our fellow citizens, and we must act.”

Demonstrators Sunday said Legault’s refusal to acknowledge the systemic nature of racism – biases, policies and practices entrenched in institutions – is missing the bigger picture.

“I don’t understand why people are trying to stick on one word. I think what is important is to say and all agree that there is some racism in Quebec, and we don’t want that any more,” Legault said on Monday.

He said the province could have cancelled Sunday’s march and one the previous weekend for public health reasons, but he decided they should be allowed to go ahead. Legault noted that francophones and women in Quebec have made advances to overcome discrimination, and he said the same must happen for racial minorities.

Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, a civil rights advocacy group, said it is important to recognize that racism isn’t always direct and can be subtle.

Niemi noted that courts have recognized systemic discrimination and systemic racism for more than three decades, but there’s a level of intellectual confusion surrounding it.

“Systemic racism is not a general indictment of a society as a whole, and it’s important to stop using systemic as a tool to generalize or accuse an entire society in a sweeping manner,” Niemi said.

Source: François Legault sticks to position that systemic racism doesn’t exist in Quebec

Legault promises to give asylum seekers working in CHSLDs a chance to apply as immigrants

Reality intrudes:

Quebec Premier François Legault says he will consider giving asylum seekers who work in long-term care homes a chance to stay in the province by applying as immigrants.

Legault opened Monday’s briefing by saying he has asked Immigration Minister Simon-Jolin Barrette to look at the situation, on a case-by-case basis, as a way of saying “thank you.”

The co​​​​mments represent a departure for Legault. The Coalition Avenir Québec premier has previously rejected the idea of giving any kind of preference for asylum seekers and others without status working in essential jobs during the pandemic.

But there have been growing calls for him to recognize their contribution.

On Saturday, supporters held a rally in Montreal and on Sunday, Fabrice Vil, a Montrealer of Haitian background, was critical of the premier on the popular French-language talk show Tout le monde en parle.

Legault, whose government has cut immigration levels, said Monday he would try to strike a balance between giving thanks to those working in the residences, known by their French initials CHSLDs, while at the same time not setting a precedent.

“We have to be careful. I don’t want to send the message that in the future we will accept everybody if they find a job in Quebec,” he said.

“But we also have another situation where it’s really critical to get more people working in our CHSLD. So those people, they are already working in CHSLDs. So how can we bring them via the normal immigration process? That’s what I’m looking at.”

Legault added his government would also have discussions with the federal government, which is responsible for refugee applications.

While the province says it has no record of the total number of asylum seekers doing work in CHSLDs, advocates say hundreds of people, many of them originally from Haiti, have been working as patient attendants.

Some have already had their refugee claim rejected, and may not be able to stay in Canada when deportations resume.

Protest at PM’s office

Protestors rallied outside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Montreal office on Saturday, demanding he do more for asylum seekers who have been risking their lives by working in long-term care homes with COVID-19 outbreaks.

Frantz André, a member of the Action Committee for People without Status in Montreal, the group behind the demonstration, said Legault should be taking a stronger stand on the issue.

While the federal government makes the final decision when it comes to the immigration status of asylum seekers, provincial leaders are able to influence those decisions, he said.

“I think all the parties, including the CAQ, should have said in one voice, ‘Mr. Trudeau, you need to make a decision,'” André told CBC News on Monday.

“We as Quebecers, we are willing to give people an opportunity to be accepted, to be equally Canadian as anybody else.”

Source: Legault promises to give asylum seekers working in CHSLDs a chance to apply as immigrants