Ethnie-fiction et indépendance

Reminder how some Quebec intellectuals remain mired in Québecois de souche as the benchmark rather than language, in this critique by Charles Castonguay:

Dans sa chronique intitulée « Blues souverainistes » du 8 août dernier, Louis Cornellier souligne que « le poids des Québécois d’ascendance canadienne-française diminue sans cesse. Le chercheur Charles Gaudreault a montré qu’il était passé de 79 %, en 1971, à 64,5 %, en 2014 ». Selon Cornellier, il conviendrait « de constater une réalité qui rend l’indépendance de plus en plus improbable ».

Dans la revue L’Inconvénient (no 81, été 2020), Ugo Gilbert Tremblay enfonce le clou. « Or qu’en est-il exactement ? Quelle est la réalité sur laquelle plusieurs parmi les souverainistes préfèrent fermer les yeux ? [Le] chercheur Charles Gaudreault a voulu jeter un regard froidement objectif sur la question. La conclusion de son étude est que, de 1971 à 2014, [le poids] des Canadiens français est passé de 79 % à 64,5 % […] En projetant sur les prochaines décennies un flux migratoire comparable à celui des années précédentes, Gaudreault prédit que les Canadiens français deviendront minoritaires en sol québécois dès 2042 et que leur poids ne sera plus que de 45 % en 2050 […] Il me semble qu’un souverainiste mature devrait être capable de réfléchir — sans hargne ni rancune — aux implications de ces changements démographiques. »

Tout cela repose, cependant, sur de l’ethnie-fiction. Les projections en question ne tiennent pas la route.

Par exemple, Gaudreault définit le « groupe ethnique canadien-français » comme étant formé des descendants des colons français arrivés entre 1608 et 1760. Pour estimer son effectif en 1971, il utilise toutefois la population qui, au recensement, s’est déclarée d’origine française. Or, cette population découle aussi de deux bons siècles d’assimilation par voie de métissage ou d’adoption de personnes d’origine allemande, amérindienne, irlandaise, etc. ainsi que d’un siècle de nouvelle immigration française depuis 1870.

Gaudreault soutient également qu’en 1971, les répondants au recensement ne pouvaient indiquer qu’une seule origine. C’est faux. Ils pouvaient parfaitement en déclarer deux, trois ou plus. Statistique Canada a tout simplement éliminé les déclarations multiples avant la publication des données, en assignant à chaque répondant en cause une seule de ses origines déclarées.

Gaudreault affirme en outre que les données de 1971 sont les dernières observations fiables sur l’origine ethnique depuis 50 ans du fait qu’elles se fondent sur des « choix fermes », alors que tous les recensements suivants ont procédé par autoénumération. Faux encore. L’autorecensement a débuté en 1971 même, et Statistique Canada a recueilli des données fiables sur l’origine française jusqu’en 1991 inclusivement.

Les projections de Gaudreault excluent ensuite tout nouvel apport — même celui de nouveaux immigrants français — à sa population de départ, soit la population d’origine française énumérée en 1971. Pas surprenant, alors, qu’à force de faire mourir une population fermée et foncièrement sous-féconde, Gaudreault aboutisse, sous l’hypothèse d’une immigration non française abondante et soutenue, à un moignon de « Canadiens français ». Semblable appareil de projection réduirait en peu de temps n’importe quelle majorité à un statut minoritaire.

Dérapage

Notons qu’après une répartition égale des déclarations d’origines multiples entre les origines déclarées, le poids de la population d’origine française recensée en 1991 s’élevait à 77,5 %, en baisse de seulement 1,5 point de pourcentage depuis 1971. Par comparaison, les « descendants de Canadiens français » de Gaudreault en perdent 5, plongeant en 1991 à 74 %. Les projections de Gaudreault dérapent sérieusement, donc, dès 1991, soit 20 ans seulement après leur point de départ.

L’étude de Gaudreault a été mise en ligne en 2019 par la revue Nations and Nationalism. L’Action nationale en a repris l’essentiel en mars dernier, bonifié de quelques pages additionnelles dans lesquelles Gaudreault accuse Statistique Canada de ne pas avoir recueilli de données valables sur la langue depuis 1971. Faux toujours. Il y gratifie même Navdeep Bains, ministre responsable de Statistique Canada, et Anil Arora, son statisticien en chef, tous deux d’ascendance indienne, de remarques gentiment racistes.

Bel exemple de « regard froidement objectif ».

C’est d’ailleurs en fonction de la langue, et non de l’origine ethnique, qu’on juge du caractère français du Québec ou de l’appui éventuel à l’indépendance. Le poids de la population québécoise parlant le français comme langue principale à la maison est d’abord passé de 80,8 % en 1971 à près de 83 % en 1991, puis est revenu à 80,6 % en 2016. Dans cette optique, tout ne serait pas encore perdu.

Source: Ethnie-fiction et indépendance

Conservatives should show leadership on Bill 21 and defend religious freedom

Of note. Perhaps not surprising, after laying out the options, Kinsinger essentially adopts the Liberal government’s position of reserving the right to intervene in an exiting legal process:

Among the more discouraging aspects of the 2019 federal election was the failure of all major parties to take any meaningful stand against Quebec’s Bill 21. The legislation, which was passed by the National Assembly of Quebec last year, prohibits many public servants from wearing religious attire while they’re on duty. According to the Quebec government, one of the key purposes of the law is to promote the religious neutrality of the state. Civil libertarians and religious equality advocates, however, have widely denounced Bill 21 as an unjustified state intrusion into matters that fall outside of the its proper constitutional role.

To date, four separate legal challenges have been brought against Bill 21. The Quebec Superior Court will hear these cases together in the near future. In anticipation of this litigation, the Quebec government invoked section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, often referred to as the notwithstanding clause. This provision constitutionally insulates laws that would otherwise violate certain rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter, subject to a renewal by the enacting legislature every five years.

Even with the invocation of the notwithstanding clause, Bill 21 flies directly in the face of constitutional protections that limit the state’s ability to dictate matters of conscience or religious belief. All political parties ought to be opposed to this legislation and should develop policies based on the very real grounds they would have to challenge Bill 21 if they form government. However, it is especially disappointing that Erin O’Toole, the recently elected leader of the Conservative Party, has not taken advantage of this opportunity to differentiate himself from other federal party leaders by openly opposing Bill 21.

The Tories have numerous reasons to be particularly offended by Bill 21: conservatives have long affirmed the positive and important role that religion plays in the lives of individuals and in the public square, and they often bill themselves as the strongest defenders of religious freedom, even when it seemingly clashes with other shared values.

In this sense, it is unsurprising that O’Toole has vowed to protect the rights of religious minorities both in Canada and abroad if he becomes prime minister. Yet following a meeting with Quebec Premier François Legault on Sept. 14, O’Toole told reporters he backed provincial autonomy and would not interfere on the issue of Bill 21. While O’Toole has sought to frame this as an issue of national unity, he no doubt also fears alienating Bill 21’s numerous supporters in Quebec, a province in which, many observers insist, the Conservatives must make significant inroads if they hope to regain power. Indeed, O’Toole’s decisive leadership victory over frontrunner Peter MacKay is being attributed in large part to the high support he received from Conservative members in La Belle Province.

It would nonetheless be a mistake for O’Toole to assume that the endorsement he received from Quebec Tories will translate into support from Quebec voters more generally. If past electoral performance is any indicator, the Conservatives will still face an uphill battle in Quebec when the next election is called. On this point, O’Toole would do well to remember that the road to Conservative success also goes through racially and religiously diverse ridings, especially those found in the Greater Toronto Area: it is here that a conservative defence of religious freedom can make a strong appeal to both religious and immigrant voters.

Consider the 2019 election, in which former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s personal religious views became a hotly debated election issue. Scheer never found a satisfying answer to an endless barrage of questions about whether he supported same-sex marriage. Had he defended himself on the grounds of religious freedom and conscience rights, and then made clear he wanted to protect these rights for all religious minorities, he might have been able to find a powerful message that resonated with voters in the ridings the Conservatives needed — and ultimately failed — to pick up.

To be sure, the Conservatives should denounce Bill 21 first and foremost as a matter of principle. But this doesn’t mean that O’Toole needs to ignore the compelling political reasons that favour taking a stand against this odious law. By promoting the rights of religious minorities, the Tories can show that religious freedom is truly about protecting the practices of all believers, and not just coded language used by social conservatives and Christians to defend their own beliefs. To this end, Garnett Genuis, a rising voice in the Conservative caucus and an early supporter of O’Toole’s leadership bid, has already shown how opposition to Bill 21 can be expanded into a broader platform for combating systemic discrimination in all its forms.

There are a range of policies that the federal government could adopt toward Bill 21, regardless of who occupies the Prime Minister’s Office. Admittedly, some of these are more advisable than others. The most radical would be to invoke the rarely used disallowance power, under which the federal government is permitted to constitutionally invalidate provincial legislation. Of all the available options, this is by far the least desirable. Although it was once employed regularly, the federal power to disallow provincial legislation has not been invoked for the better part of a century, and its use now would likely ignite a constitutional crisis concerning its legitimacy.

The next option would be for the federal cabinet to refer Bill 21 directly to the Supreme Court of Canada for an opinion on its constitutionality. The current challenges that have been brought against Bill 21 could take years to make their way through the normal appeals process. By referring the matter directly to the court of final appeal, the federal government could save these parties the considerable time and cost of litigating the constitutionality of Bill 21. Although advisory opinions don’t constitute precedents as weighty as do rulings on cases that were contested by litigants, in practice they’re usually treated as binding.

One of the key questions that will likely be addressed in the Bill 21 litigation concerns the Quebec government’s invocation of the section 33 override, even though the courts may ultimately decide to strike down the legislation on other grounds. Although invoking the notwithstanding clause was once considered taboo, provincial governments have increasingly relied on it in recent years to safeguard controversial legislation against unwanted Charter challenges. While a reference to the Supreme Court on Bill 21 would likely provide much-needed clarity on the constitutional limits of section 33, it could also result in undesirable tension with the Quebec government.

Thankfully, a less contentious alternative remains open to the federal government: the attorney general of Canada may, as of right, intervene as an added party in any litigation involving a constitutional question. Of the various responses to Bill 21 potentially available to O’Toole if he becomes prime minister, this would be the most prudent. Unlike a direct constitutional reference, an intervention by the attorney general would not force the Quebec government’s hand by initiating fresh litigation. Such an intervention could be further tailored to demonstrate the significant ways in which this law misapplies important constitutional principles, but without adopting a hard position on section 33 that risks open confrontation with the provinces.

The insistence that there are no politically viable options available to O’Toole and the Conservatives on Bill 21 rings hollow. To the contrary, Bill 21 has presented the Tories with a rare opportunity to offer leadership on a defining civil liberties issue while making the case to religious minorities that they have a home and champion in the party. The only question is whether Erin O’Toole is prepared to truly lead.

Source: Conservatives should show leadership on Bill 21 and defend religious freedom

Exploring the danger behind Quebec’s anti-mask conspiracy theorists

Of concern:

Late one Tuesday night in May, while most of Quebec was still under lockdown orders, the phone rang in Premier François Legault’s riding office.

In a calm but firm voice, a man left a message saying he regretted voting for Legault, and then warned the premier that his days were numbered.

A few hours later, at 3:16 a.m., the man called back and left another message. This time he was screaming and swearing about Quebec’s top public health official, Dr. Horacio Arruda.

The man said he could get access to a gun and wanted to shoot Arruda.

A member of Legault’s office staff who heard the message alerted Quebec provincial police. Their investigation quickly turned international.

The calls were traced to a 47-year-old trucker from Quebec City, Philippe Côté. A tracking device on his truck indicated Côté was in Texas, not far from a gun shop, when he phoned Legault’s office.

Canadian border guards were placed on alert. When Côté crossed back into Canada on May 16, they spent three hours searching his truck.

The border guards didn’t find any weapons, but they did uncover evidence of a different threat, one that also crosses borders and has the potential for violence.

“Several bits of paper were found on which were written different political conspiracy theories,” reads a description of the incident contained in court documents.

Côté was allowed to re-enter the country, but was arrested by provincial police a short time later. On May 21, he pleaded guilty to two counts of uttering death threats, and will be sentenced later this month.Côté’s lawyer, Olivier Morin, told reporters back in May that his client had been emotionally distraught by the pandemic and the rules he had to follow as a trucker.

“He was mixed up. He wanted answers and he went on conspiracy websites,” Morin said.

Since May, provincial police in Quebec have arrested at least four other people for allegedly making online threats against politicians and other public figures. Police have interviewed several more about their online activities following complaints from the public.

The suspects all have Facebook accounts that promote conspiracy theories about COVID-19, including some that originate from QAnon, a conspiracy movement that began in the U.S. and is now considered a national security threat by the FBI.

Experts who monitor extremist groups in Quebec are concerned about the role conspiracy theories are playing in radicalizing online behaviour, and the possibility it could turn into real-world violence.

“We’ve seen it before, and it was called Alexandre Bissonnette,” said Martin Geoffroy, who heads an anti-radicalization research centre at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit, a public francophone college in Longueuil.Geoffroy was referring to the man who killed six people at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

“QAnon is ravaging the mainstream population right now,” Geoffroy said. “This is part of the collateral damage of the pandemic.”

Conspiracy theories take root in pandemic

Conspiracy theories shape the way a significant number of Quebecers think about the pandemic.

A poll conducted last month for Montreal’s La Presse newspaper suggested 35 per cent of the population believe mainstream media outlets are spreading false information about COVID-19; 18 per cent believe the pandemic is a tool created by governments to control them.

Those findings echo a survey done in June by the province’s public health research institute (INSPQ), which found 23 per cent of Quebecers believe that COVID-19 was fabricated in a laboratory — a theory rejected by scientists who have studied the genetic code of the virus and determined it was not manipulated.

Among the most popular purveyors of conspiracy theories in the province is Alexis Cossette-Trudel, the son of two convicted FLQ terrorists, who broadcasts his views on social media under the moniker Radio-Québec.His YouTube channel has more than 110,000 subscribers. Analytics show that number has nearly quadrupled since the pandemic hit Quebec in March.

Cossette-Trudel openly expresses support for QAnon, which holds, among other claims, that U.S. President Donald Trump is waging a battle against an international cabal of high-profile liberals who are Satan-worshipping pedophiles operating a child sex-trafficking ring.

In one recent video, Cossette-Trudel said Legault was exaggerating the risks of COVID-19 as part of a global plot to ruin the economy and prevent Trump from being re-elected.

This strain of conspiracy thinking is a visible component in the ongoing anti-mask demonstrations in Quebec.

At a protest last Saturday in Montreal, which attracted several thousand people, there were dozens of posters and T-shirts inspired by QAnon symbols and slogans.

Many participants said they thought the pandemic was “over” or “fake” and that the government was lying about the deadliness of the disease.”At first I thought Radio-Québec was too extreme, but then with time I realized they are right,” said Marie-Josée Bernard, a mother of three who took part in Saturday’s demonstration.

Arrests for alleged threats

Conspiracy theories, though, are not only contributing to anti-mask protests in Quebec, they also appear to be playing a role in violent online behaviour.

  • On July 28, a 26-year-old man was arrested for allegedly making online threats against a journalist. His Facebook page has links to conspiracy videos about the pandemic, and content from QAnon supporters.
  • On July 30, a 27-year-old man was charged with intimidation, obstructing an officer and three counts of uttering threats against Legault, Arruda and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His Facebook page features links to far-right content, videos by Radio-Québec and various other conspiracy videos about the pandemic.
  • On August 4, a man in his 60s was arrested for allegedly making online threats against both Legault and Arruda. The arrest came shortly after a Facebook account that circulates QAnon conspiracies published Arruda’s home address.
  • On Aug. 7, a 45-year old man from Drummondville was charged with intimidation and two counts of uttering threats, reportedly against Arruda. Along with posting conspiracies about the pandemic, his Facebook page also features racist and anti-Semitic content.

Along with the arrests, Quebec provincial police have also met with several other individuals about threats associated with their social media accounts, at least three of which indicated support for Radio-Québec.

Cossette-Trudel did not respond to a request for comment.

‘We don’t want to wait until it’s too late’

In the U.S., conspiracy theories in general, and those associated with QAnon in particular, have contributed to the radicalization of several people who have committed acts of violence.

recent study published by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center concluded that the “increasing frequency of criminal or violent acts by QAnon supporters seems possible, even likely” in the months to come.

Experts in Quebec have similar fears that online violence could move offline.

“We’re speaking with police to help with prevention. We don’t want to wait until it’s too late,” said Roxane Martel-Perron, who heads education efforts for Montreal’s Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence.

The issue, said Martel-Perron, is not that people would question the government’s handling of the pandemic. It’s that the answers they are receiving — about shadowy plots out to control them — can be used to justify extreme acts.

“What we’re worried about is the violent means that might be taken in response to these perceived grievances,” she said.

Quebec politicians have signalled their growing concern, as well.

On Tuesday, the first day of the fall legislative session, independent MNA Catherine Fournier introduced a motion calling on the National Assembly to “recognize that the rise of conspiracy theories in Quebec is alarming and requires concerted action from civil society and public authorities.”

The motion passed unanimously.

Source: Exploring the danger behind Quebec’s anti-mask conspiracy theorists

Quebec judge who asked woman to remove hijab apologizes, 5 years later

Of note:

A Quebec court judge, who refused to hear the case of a Montreal woman because she was wearing a hijab, has finally apologized for the incident, more than five years after it happened.

At an online hearing of the Quebec Council of the Magistrature on Tuesday, a lawyer for the council read Judge Eliana Marengo’s apology to Rania El-Alloul.

The council is the body responsible for disciplining judges in the province.

In her statement, Marengo said she acknowledged that she erred in asking El-Alloul to remove her hijab, that she regretted any inconvenience and that she never intended any offence or disrespect.

Marengo addressed the fact that at the time she had compared El-Alloul’s hijab to a hat and sunglasses being worn in the courtroom.

“My reference to hats and sunglasses was simply meant to exemplify how the rules of decorum are generally applied in the courtroom and was most certainly not meant to disrespect either you or your beliefs,” Marengo said.

She concluded by offering El-Alloul her most sincere apologies.

El-Alloul read her own statement in response, saying she accepted Marengo’s apology.

“I remember that day in the courtroom like it was yesterday. I couldn’t imagine that I would be turned away from the justice system because of my hijab, that my rights would be taken away because of my beliefs,” El-Alloul said.

“I hope she understands the pain she caused me, and why it is so important for her to account for her actions. Our justice system is not made for some and not others. No, this is a democracy, where everyone is to be treated equally before the law,” she continued.

“I accept her apology. This is what my faith teaches me.”

‘Not suitably dressed’

The controversy dates back to February 2015 when El-Alloul was in court trying to get back her impounded car.

“In my opinion, you are not suitably dressed,” Marengo told El-Alloul at the time. The judge said the court was a secular space, and no religious symbols should be worn by those before it.

The case was suspended, and El-Alloul eventually got her car back. But the story made headlines around the world.

Dozens of people, including El-Alloul, ultimately filed complaints with the Council of the Magistrature.

El-Alloul’s complaint was dismissed on a technicality, but the council agreed to look into the dozens of other complaints on the matter.

Marengo challenged the authority of the council to examine the complaints. She sought leave to appeal a Quebec Court of Appeal decision that unanimously found she was wrong to bar El-Alloul from her courtroom.

But in 2018, the Supreme Court refused to hear Marengo’s challenge.

Change of heart

The Council of the Magistrature sent a letter earlier this summer to the complainants, informing them of today’s hearing.

“The purpose of this hearing will be to study a settlement proposal from the prosecutors on file, including a letter of apology from Judge Marengo to Mrs. El-Alloul,” the letter said.

The council also told the complainants the apology would be released to the public, in exchange for dropping the disciplinary charges against Marengo.

The settlement was jointly proposed by Marengo’s lawyers and the lawyer handling the complaint for the council.

The panel of judges presiding over the hearing said it would take time to consider today’s arguments before deciding whether to accept the settlement.

Source: Quebec judge who asked woman to remove hijab apologizes, 5 years later

Quebec won’t use COVID-19 notification app for now

Again, surprising given Quebec’s overall poor performance in managing and containing the pandemic. And another kudos to Premier Ford for his plain language messaging “Just do it…”:

Quebec won’t use a smartphone application to notify the public about potential exposure to COVID-19 for now, arguing its testing and contact-tracing capability are sufficient at this stage of the pandemic.

While the province is not closing the door on using an app in the future, Premier François Legault says he would rather use one that was developed in Quebec.

“We would prefer a Quebec company, but I don’t think this is our main argument,” Legault said Tuesday afternoon in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.

He says there is a lack of broad support for such an app in the province, due to privacy concerns.

“Maybe in six months we will come to another decision,” he said.

The decision puzzled the federal Health Ministry. Thierry Bélair, a spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu, pointed out that the app offered by the federal government, COVID Alert, does not track a user’s location nor collect any other personally identifiable information.

“It’s also an additional tool we can use as we prepare for a possible increase in cases this fall. So why not make it available now in Quebec?” said Bélair.

COVID Alert, which uses open-source technology built by a volunteer team of engineers at Ottawa-based Shopify, is designed to warn users if they’ve spent at least 15 minutes in the past two weeks within two metres of another user who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

It was launched at the end of July and currently only works in Ontario, where it has been downloaded more than two million times.

Adoption of one app across Canada would be “very helpful” to ensure those who travel between provinces are notified of possible exposure to the virus, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at a Tuesday news conference.”From the federal perspective, we want as many Canadians as possible to be participating,” she said.

Experts in both technology and public health stress that the more people who use the app, the better it will be.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says more widespread adoption of the COVID Alert app is one more layer of protection. This comes as Quebec announces it will not sign on to the app for now. 1:03

Éric Caire, Quebec’s minister responsible for digital transformation, said the government is interested in a made-in-Quebec app and is also running tests on the federal app to ensure it is secure.

He said the province has learned from public consultations and legislative hearings that a solid understanding of the technology used in an app makes Quebecers more open to installing it.

“The more that people are told what it does and does not do, the more they will be reassured,” said Caire.COVID Alert relies on Bluetooth technology to detect proximity to other users, instead of GPS data.

The province heard from 16,456 Quebecers in online public consultations about the use of a COVID-19 notification app. Seventy-seven per cent believed such an app would be useful, and 75 per cent said they would install it, the province said in a statement.

But the voices heard at hearings, held by the Institutions Committee in Quebec City, about a possible contract-tracing app were more skeptical.

“Quebec’s legal framework is inadequate in terms of data and personal information protection and access to information, informed consent and the fight against discrimination,” said a report prepared by the committee once those hearings concluded.

Committee members acknowledged that almost all of the 18 experts who testified at the hearings expressed serious reservations about the effectiveness and reliability of the technology.

Dr. David Buckeridge, an epidemiologist at McGill University’s School of Population and Global Health, said the right time to start using such an app would be before the number of daily new cases reaches the crisis levels seen in the spring.”I think the risks, frankly, from this app are relatively quite low, and it was designed in that way,” he said.

“The main issue here is going to be trust and adoption.”

Caire said the province will continue to watch how widely the app is used in Ontario and that Quebec will consider using an app in the event of a second wave.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he would ask Legault to reconsider his government’s decision.

“Just do it. It protects everyone,” he said to reporters Tuesday afternoon. “It’s not a big deal.”

Source: Quebec won’t use COVID-19 notification app for now

Bouchard: La souveraineté du Québec, plus nécessaire que jamais

Ironic to cite COVID-19 as a justification for Quebec independence while ignoring that Quebec has the highest number of infections and deaths per million of all Canadian provinces and on par with the most affected European countries.

And of course, both multiculturalism and interculturalism are similar models of civic integration, with more semantic rather than substantive differences:

Du point de vue de notre avenir politique, deux leçons peuvent être tirées de l’actuelle pandémie. Nous avons pu constater que, presque partout, les populations plongées dans l’insécurité se sont tournées vers leur nation pour se protéger. Les instances supranationales, à commencer par l’Union européenne, se sont montrées étonnamment impuissantes à mettre en œuvre des initiatives efficaces pour contrer la pandémie.

Chacun a pu ainsi prendre conscience du recours indispensable que l’État-nation continue de représenter comme rempart dans un contexte de crise. Cette enceinte a montré une grande capacité à susciter une solidarité, montrant ainsi qu’elle est loin d’avoir perdu sa pertinence. Il y a intérêt à la soutenir et à la perpétuer. C’est la première leçon.

La pandémie a aussi révélé la fragilité des réseaux supranationaux. La mondialisation ne s’en trouve pas pour autant condamnée, loin de là, mais elle a accusé d’inquiétantes carences. Il sera prudent de mieux définir nos engagements et nos articulations avec cette sphère qui demeure largement chaotique et imprévisible. On voit l’importance de pouvoir se reposer sur un État doté de tous les pouvoirs essentiels. C’est la deuxième leçon.

Les raisons profondes qui ont toujours motivé le mouvement souverainiste restent d’actualité : le combat pour le français, l’émancipation économique, sociale et culturelle de notre société, le renforcement d’une francophonie nord-américaine et, plus généralement, une plus grande liberté collective pour traiter à notre façon, suivant nos traditions et nos choix, les grands problèmes de l’heure. Ces raisons sont clairement rappelées et mises à jour dans le dernier numéro de la revue Action nationale. La pandémie en fait voir d’autres : renforcer la nation-refuge et procurer à l’État une marge de manœuvre accrue qui lui permet de mieux naviguer à travers les écueils de la sphère planétaire.

Sur l’enjeu identitaire

Tout cela survient au moment où le Parti québécois, occupé à se redéfinir, se donnera bientôt un nouveau chef. J’aimerais, dans ce contexte, soumettre trois réflexions. La première concerne la thématique identitaire, toujours bien vivante au sein de ce parti. Écartons d’abord un malentendu. Il est incontestable qu’une nation a besoin d’une identité comme expression d’une appartenance et source de solidarité. On imagine mal comment, privée de ces ressorts, elle pourrait mobiliser ses citoyens et ses citoyennes autour d’idéaux et de projets communs.

Le danger, c’est lorsque la quête d’une identité glisse vers une auscultation de soi qui l’appauvrit et rétrécit le « nous » de la nation. Un déplacement de ce genre est néfaste pour une société diversifiée. Il tend aussi à diminuer la place d’une dimension essentielle, celle de l’action collective, des grands projets que nous pourrions réaliser tous ensemble comme Québécois. Or, la mémoire de ces réalisations contribue justement à fortifier l’identité.

La population québécoise est de plus en plus diversifiée et le vieux noyau francophone jadis largement majoritaire se contracte progressivement (de 79 % en 1971, sa proportion serait passée à 64 % en 2014). Il est donc nécessaire d’ajuster la définition de la nation et de l’identité à la nouvelle réalité.

Est-ce là succomber au multiculturalisme ? On en est loin. Premièrement, il s’agit simplement de reconnaître les droits de tous les citoyens du Québec, en particulier là où ils sont compromis. Cette règle n’est pas copiée du multiculturalisme, elle fait partie de l’héritage général de toutes les horreurs commises durant la première moitié du XXe siècle en Occident. L’éthique qu’elles ont engendrée invite à respecter la diversité plutôt que de la broyer. Le multiculturalisme canadien en est lui-même une expression parmi bien d’autres, tout comme l’interculturalisme québécois.

Deuxièmement, le modèle canadien en matière de relations interculturelles est très différent de l’approche québécoise. Dans le premier cas, les groupes ethnoculturels se voient accorder une latitude exceptionnelle, si bien que le souci de cimenter ces minorités devient quasiment secondaire.

Au Québec, au contraire, c’est une priorité. Nous sommes une petite nation constamment soucieuse d’intégration, de solidarité, de concertation, de rassemblement — et de survie. Troisièmement, le multiculturalisme canadien reconnaît l’existence de minorités mais nie celle d’une majorité. Comment ce modèle pourrait-il s’appliquer ici ?

Le prochain chef du PQ

Je reviens au Parti québécois. La recherche d’une identité forte, au sens défini plus haut, et la promotion d’une conception vraiment inclusive de la nation ne sont nullement incompatibles. Il suffit de revenir à la tradition instaurée par le parti à ses années glorieuses. La loi 101 en est une parfaite illustration. D’un côté, elle servait les intérêts de la majorité en renforçant le français. De l’autre, elle servait les intérêts des minorités en leur procurant le moyen de mieux s’intégrer à la société et d’y faire leur chemin.

Dans l’intérêt du parti et de celui du Québec, il est éminemment souhaitable qu’il renoue avec cette philosophie qui lui a valu une grande partie de ses succès. Cette tradition est toujours porteuse d’avenir parce qu’elle est étroitement alignée sur le Québec en devenir que les fondateurs avaient remarquablement anticipé.

Concernant la course à la chefferie, ces réflexions invitent à favoriser le candidat qui incarne le mieux à la fois la grande tradition et l’avenir du parti suivant les voies esquissées ici. Parmi les candidatures en lice, celle de Sylvain Gaudreault me semble la plus proche de ce profil.

Source: La souveraineté du Québec, plus nécessaire que jamais

Le PLQ et QS dénoncent un programme de régularisation discriminatoire

Appropriate criticism over the narrowness of the program;

Le Parti libéral du Québec et Québec solidairejugent trop sévères les conditions d’admission au Programme spécial visant à faciliter l’octroi de la résidence permanente aux demandeurs d’asile qui, au plus fort de la crise sanitaire, suaient sang et eau dans les résidences pour personnes âgées assaillies par la COVID-19.

« On circonscrit l’accès à la mesure à un secteur [la santé], et à l’intérieur du secteur, même si tout le monde a eu un risque [de contracter le coronavirus], on circonscrit encore plus… Ça, ça ne serait pas discriminatoire ? » a demandé l’élu libéral Gaétan Barrette en commission parlementaire lundi.

Le Programme spécial des demandeurs d’asile en période de COVID-19 (PSDAPC) s’adresse aux « anges gardiens » qui étaient « sur la ligne de front » à prodiguer des « soins directs à la population pendant la pandémie », a expliqué la ministre de l’Immigration, Nadine Girault. « Ceux qui ont pris le plus de risque », a-t-elle résumé.

Le PLQ et QS se sont tour à tour désolés de voir les autres travailleurs du secteur de la santé — les préposés à l’entretien des résidences pour aînés frappés de plein fouet par le coronavirus, par exemple — laissés en plan par le PSDAPC. Un « vrai, vrai, vrai geste d’humanité » serait de « remercier […] tous les gens qui ont pris un risque ». « Que je sois préposé à l’entretien ménager ou gardien de sécurité, quand le virus je l’attrape, puis que je meure, c’est moi qui suis mort, c’est ma famille qui pâtit. C’est ça un risque », a souligné M. Barrette.

On circonscrit l’accès à la mesure à un secteur [la santé], et à l’intérieur du secteur, même si tout le monde a eu un risque [de contracter le coronavirus], on circonscrit encore plus…

« On a envoyé au combat […] une armée de gens sans arme », a-t-il ajouté, tout en rappelant l’absence d’équipements de protection individuelle en quantité suffisante dans les milieux de vie pour personnes âgées après l’arrivée de la COVID-19 en sol québécois.

L’ex-ministre de la Santé soupçonne le gouvernement caquiste d’avoir « mis un frein » à la volonté du gouvernement fédéral de régulariser les employés du réseau de la santé en situation de précarité afin de respecter les seuils d’immigrationqu’il s’est fixés.

Le député solidaire Andrés Fontecilla a suggéré lundi d’accroître la portée du Programme spécial afin que les préposés à l’entretien, les agents de sécurité, les travailleurs agricoles, les travailleurs d’abattoirs ou d’entrepôts en situation de précarité puissent aussi s’y inscrire.

La ministre de l’Immigration, Nadine Girault, a dit être en paix avec sa décision de permettre seulement aux demandeurs d’asile ayant prodigué des soins directs à des patients — dont des préposées aux bénéficiaires et des aides-infirmières — de s’inscrire au PSDAPC, ce qui leur permettra de s’établir au Québec. « Ce n’était pas un programme discriminatoire. C’était un programme pour remercier les gens qu’on voulait remercier chez les “anges gardiens” qui ont pris soin de nos gens. C’est tout simplement ça », a-t-elle fait valoir.

Puis, elle a cédé, sans avertissement, la parole au nouveau sous-ministre de l’Immigration, Benoit Dagenais. Béant de surprise, le haut fonctionnaire s’est mis à la tâche d’énumérer les 10 orientations de la Planification pluriannuelle de l’immigration 2020-2022 léguée par l’ex-ministre Simon Jolin-Barrette.

Il a par la suite mentionné que le Plan d’immigration du Québec 2021 sera établi à la lumière de la situation économique du Québec, qui a été fragilisée par l’arrivée du coronavirus en sol québécois le printemps dernier. « La crise sanitaire, évidemment, on va la prendre en considération », a souligné M. Dagenais.

De son côté, Mme Girault a indiqué qu’« il n’y aura pas de baisse des seuils d’immigration ».

Lutte contre le racisme

Le PLQ a aussi jeté le doute sur la volonté du gouvernement de lutter contre le racisme au Québec, lundi, après que Mme Girault eut refusé net de nommer les groupes rencontrés jusqu’à aujourd’hui par le Groupe d’action contre le racisme (GACR), dont elle assure la coprésidence.

Le « groupe des sept » élus de la Coalition avenir Québec, qui a été mis sur pied au lendemain de la mort de l’Afro-Américain George Floyd sous le genou d’un policier de Minneapolis, doit présenter une série d’actions visant à faire reculer le racisme au cours de l’automne.

« C’est malheureux et c’est décevant de ne pas avoir l’information », a dit la députée libérale Jennifer Maccarone, tout en invitant le GACR à solliciter sans délai l’avis de la Ligue des Noirs, du Congrès maghrébin au Québec, de la Ligue des droits et libertés…

Source: Le PLQ et QS dénoncent un programme de régularisation discriminatoire

Ralentissement économique: Québec ne réduira pas les seuils d’immigration

Small step in their overall more restrictive immigration policies in ruling out further decreases to their already announced lower levels:

Le gouvernement Legault poursuivra l’augmentation du nombre d’immigrants admis annuellement, malgré la hausse du taux de chômage et le ralentissement économique causé par la COVID-19.

«Il n’y aura pas de baisse des seuils d’immigration dans les cartons pour les prochaines années», a déclaré la ministre de l’Immigration, Nadine Girault, au premier jour de l’étude des crédits à l’Assemblée nationale lundi.

«C’est évident qu’avec la COVID, on a eu moins d’immigrants qui sont rentrés, les frontières étaient fermées, a souligné Mme Girault. Mais ça n’a pas affecté les seuils d’immigration et ça n’affectera pas les seuils d’immigration pour les prochaines années.»

La ministre répondait aux préoccupations du député solidaire Andrés Fontecilla, qui s’inquiétait d’un retour à la baisse, comme ce fut le cas au début du mandat du gouvernement caquiste. Le nombre d’immigrants admis était alors passé de 51 118 à 40 546 et doit maintenant remonter graduellement au seuil original d’ici 2022.

Le 14 avril dernier, le premier ministre François Legault avait évoqué la possibilité d’accepter moins de nouveaux arrivants si la pandémie devait mener à une hausse importante du taux de chômage. «On n’est pas rendus là, mais effectivement, c’est quelque chose qu’on va regarder, avait-il déclaré dans les premières semaines de la pandémie. Je pense qu’il faut tout revoir puis, entre autres, le nombre d’immigrants avec le taux de chômage élevé qu’on va avoir dans les prochains mois. On pourrait effectivement réduire le nombre.» Au mois de juillet, le taux de chômage atteignait 10,7% au Québec.

Mais la ministre Girualt fait valoir que, même si le Québec ne sera plus en situation de plein emploi, «on va avoir quand même des gros manques au niveau de certains secteurs d’emploi».

D’autres «anges gardiens» à risque

Toutefois, c’est l’entente avec Ottawa pour permettre aux demandeurs d’asile du réseau de la santé de régulariser leur statut qui a surtout retenu l’attention du PLQ et de QS durant l’audience de quatre heures. Les deux partis d’opposition reprochent à Québec d’avoir restreint l’accès au programme uniquement à ceux qui ont donné des soins directement aux patients entre le 13 mars et le 14 août, et ce, sur une période d’au moins 120 heures.

«Je suis persuadé que les gens comprennent que ce qu’on fait, c’est parce qu’on voulait s’occuper et prendre soin de nos anges gardiens qui, eux, ont pris soin de nos gens», a martelé la ministre Girault.

Mais le critique libéral Gaétan Barrette fait valoir que le risque est le même de contracter le virus pour tous les employés d’un établissement de santé. «Que je sois préposé à l’entretien ménager ou gardien de sécurité, quand j’attrape le virus et que je meurs, c’est moi qui suis mort et ma famille qui en pâtit», a-t-il souligné.

Source: https://www.journaldequebec.com/2020/08/17/ralentissement-economique-quebec-ne-reduira-pas-les-seuils-dimmigration

Quebec farms facing lost profits and rotting harvests due to migrant worker shortage

A further reminder of our dependence of foreign seasonal agriculture workers:

Nineteen-year-old Florence Lachapelle was among hundreds of Quebecers who tried their hand at planting seeds and harvesting produce this summer, replacing migrant workers who were unable to leave their countries because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while Lachapelle spent long days working the fields on Francois D’Aoust’s farm in Havelock, Que., too few other Quebecers took up the call to help the province’s struggling agricultural industry.

Despite a recruiting drive by the provincial government in April, the lack of labour this season has forced farmers to cut production or leave food rotting in the fields.

Unfortunately for Lachapelle, she fell ill with mononucleosis after two months and returned home to Montreal. She said the work was very demanding with so few migrant workers available.

“They’re professionals and we’re simply not,” Lachapelle said in a recent interview.

D’Aoust said he hired a handful of people to work alongside Lachapelle, who were out of work in other sectors such as communications, film and the restaurant industry. But once their opportunities returned, he said, they left for their better-paying jobs.

“Not a lot of people are used to (physical) work all day,” D’Aoust said in a recent interview. “It’s just not the kind of work that we do. It’s rare that people are in shape and can (work) all day in the field.

“People that are farmers, themselves, in their country, surely they are at an advantage.”

D’Aoust and his wife, Melina Plante, have hired the same four Guatemalan seasonal workers year after year. But this year the farmhands were stuck at home at the beginning of Quebec’s farming season due to travel restrictions their country imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

He said it takes inexperienced Quebecers up to three times as long to do farm work compared to a migrant worker. That meant he had to pay locals to do less work, eating into his profits.

D’Aoust slashed production at his farm, Les Bontes de la Vallee, by 60 per cent this year because he and his wife figured they would only have migrant workers later in the harvest season.

Two Guatemalan workers eventually made it on D’Aoust and Plante’s farm — but the financial damage to the business was done. “What we hope is to pass through this difficult period without too much loss and start again next year,” he said. “We just want to stay alive.”

For Michel Ricard, who owns 60 hectares of farmland in Saint-Alexis-de-Montcalm, about 60 kilometres north of Montreal, he said he’s going to lose a lot money and food this year because migrant workers from Mexico and Guatemala haven’t been able to arrive.

By the end of August, Ricard said he expects to lose approximately $100,000 dollars worth of cucumbers because he has no one to pick them.

Experienced foreign workers are “essential for the future, for me, and for the majority of growers of vegetables,” he said in a recent interview.

“The people from Guatemala are able to work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s not a problem. Sometimes I need to stop them because they want to continue, but sometimes I say ‘that’s enough for today.'”

Local workers haven’t been much help to him, he said. Ricard had his daughter post a message on Facebook to reach out to prospective farmhands, but he said only eight came through for him.

“It was impossible,” Ricard said.

The Union des producteurs agricoles, which represents about 42,000 Quebec farmers, says there are close to 2,000 fewer migrant workers on Quebec farms than usual. Despite the UPA’s efforts to lure Quebec workers through a recruiting drive, just under 1,400 were assigned to Quebec farms this year.

“It didn’t replace, really, the foreign workers,” UPA President Marcel Groleau said in a recent interview. “It helped on some issues … but those workers are not trained and can’t really replace the foreign workers that are trained and have experience on farms.”

Farmers such as D’Aoust and Ricard say migrant farmhands are willing to work longer hours, even for minimal pay.

Groleau said the federal government’s emergency response benefit, which offers up to $2,000 a month to many people who have lost jobs, has encouraged Quebecers to stay away from the gruelling field work.

“When you can get two thousand dollars a month sitting at home,” Groleau said, “it’s not really interesting to go on a farm and work a little bit for minimum wage.”

Source: Quebec farms facing lost profits and rotting harvests due to migrant worker shortage

Judge who told woman to remove hijab offering to apologize in settlement proposal

Hard to see that this apology is genuine or just an effort to avoid discipline given how long Judge Marengo has been fighting this:

A Quebec court judge who refused to hold a hearing for a Montreal woman after the woman refused to remove her hijab now says she’s willing to apologize for the incident, more than five years after it happened.

In February 2015, Judge Eliana Marengo refused to hear the case of Rania El-Alloul.

El-Alloul was in court trying to get her impounded car back.

“In my opinion, you are not suitably dressed,” Marengo told El-Alloul at the time. The judge said the court was a secular space, and no religious symbols should be worn by those before it.

Marengo compared the hijab to a hat and sunglasses, saying she wouldn’t hear a case from someone wearing those, either.

After the incident, dozens of people filed complaints with the Quebec Council of the Magistrature, the body responsible for disciplining judges in the province.

In a letter sent recently to the complainants, the council said it would convene a hearing Sept. 8.

“The purpose of this hearing will be to study a settlement proposal from the prosecutors on file, including a letter of apology from Judge Marengo to Mrs. El-Alloul,” the letter said.

The letter also said the apology would be released to the public, in exchange for the dropping of the disciplinary complaints against Marengo.

Council spokesperson Paul Crépeau told CBC News the settlement is being jointly proposed by Marengo’s lawyers and the lawyer handling the complaint for the council.

Long legal fight

Marengo has been fighting the disciplinary complaint in court for years, at one point challenging the authority of the council to even hear the complaint.

Judge Eliana Marengo’s lawyers are now proposing a compromise where Marengo would write a letter of apology to El-Alloul.(Radio-Canada)

After a request from the legal team assisting El-Alloul, the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2018 issued a judgment reaffirming that the Quebec court dress code does not forbid head scarves if they constitute a sincere religious belief and don’t harm the public interest.

El-Alloul herself filed a formal complaint with the council after the incident, but it was rejected because of a technicality.

However, dozens of other complaints were accepted, and the council convened a special panel of five judges to consider the case.

El-Alloul declined to comment on the latest developments.

Source: Judge who told woman to remove hijab offering to apologize in settlement proposal