Anger, political pushback in Quebec after Legault says cultures are 'not on the same level'
When Quebec Premier François Legault said bluntly this week that he and his party "oppose multiculturalism," he tried to add some qualifiers to that argument.
Quebec has a different model from the rest of Canada, Legault explained -- "interculturalism" rather than multiculturalism, where different cultures don't just co-exist but blend into a dominant, French-speaking culture.
He added that he's against putting "all cultures on the same level."
He prefers a "culture of integration" first and foremost, he also said.
But some of those who know this debate most intimately said there's little nuance to be found in the premier's comments, and that his words aren't surprising but are still deeply unwelcome.
"Every time it's as painful as it is the first time," said Harginder Kaur, the Quebec spokesperson for the World Sikh Organization of Canada.
"You don't expect such comments from the government [of the place] you live in."
Kaur, 22, said immigrants to Quebec are more aware than anyone of the emphasis on "francization," or learning to live in French and blending into Quebec culture.
"I speak fluent French, I have implemented all Quebecois values -- my family as well, my friends as well," said Kaur.
'WHO IS HE TO DECIDE THAT?'
As a Sikh, she can sympathize in a way with Quebec's long effort to protect French within North America, she said.
But to her, there's no excuse for comments like Legault's, she said, particularly the idea that different cultures can be put on different "levels," as the premier said.
"Basically he's just saying that all religions are not equal, right?" she said. "But who is he to decide that?"
"Being a Sikh, I understand where they're coming from because Sikhs are a minority as well... even in India," she said.
"But we understand that equality is what builds a nation, and you cannot preserve your own culture at the expense of another."
For Quebec's leaders to suggest different cultures have different value shows "the fear that they have," she said, but it's also insulting to those who have made big efforts to resettle in Quebec.
"If we're a problem, they need to understand that immigrants come here for a better life, because of the values that Canada holds," she said.
"We all know French, we all know our language -- we preserve their culture and our culture," she added. "They don't understand what we're doing for Quebec as well."
Legault's comments came after one of his top ministers, Simon Jolin-Barrette, gave a high-profile speech in Paris in which he also said Quebec's government considers multiculturalism one of its major problems.
He gave the speech a day before Quebec's national holiday, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.
QUEBEC'S MODEL IS A SUCCESS, NOT A CRISIS: LIBERALS
Legault and Jolin-Barrette both criticized what they called the Canadian model of multiculturalism, usually described as a mosaic of different cultures. They said it's an example of individual rights overriding the collective good, and that it's harming Quebec.
In contrast, Quebec, since the 1980s or so, has developed its own model when it comes to immigration -- the "interculturalism" that Legault referred to.
But a political opponent said they were presenting a twisted version of Quebec history, in his view.
"We all know, for the past 40 years, that we have developed our own model [of immigration] in Quebec with our own identity," said Saul Polo, the Liberal MNA for Laval-des-rapides.
The problem, he said, is that in many people's view, it's been a success and not a crisis needing fixing or stoking new feelings of "division" or "being attacked."
Quebec Liberals see Bill 101, the original language law, as fundamentally working well and perhaps needing a few tweaks, said Polo.
His party also takes issue in particular with the idea that people not speaking French at home is a problem.
"Where we don't see eye to eye [is the idea that] what languages people speak at home is a major factor that indicates whether French is being threatened in Quebec," he said.
"[Legault] sees the presence of all these cultures, especially if you speak other languages at home, as being a potential threat," Polo said.
"At the end of the day, we can fully integrate ourselves within the Quebec society, but also keep our own heritage and valorize it," he said. The CAQ is "trying to say we need to forget our heritage to feel fully Quebecer."
That argument also strikes deeply for Polo, who was born in Colombia and moved to Quebec at age six. He was educated fully in French but speaks Spanish at home with his family and his son.
He echoed Kaur in saying that Legault's words were insulting.
"No matter the sacrifices and efforts that we do to fully integrate into this society, it's still not enough for him to fully accept us as Quebecers," he said.
"It's not up to Legault to decide who's a Quebecer or who's not a Quebecer."
PQ: IF LEGAULT IS SERIOUS, QUEBEC SHOULD SEPARATE
The other main opposition party took a different tack, saying that if Legault is serious about denouncing Canada's model, he should also get serious about sovereignty.
"The CAQ is keeping us in a cul-de-sac by denouncing Canadian multiculturalism while insisting on staying in Canada at all costs," said Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon in a statement to CTV News.
"Canada is imposing its vision of communitarianism on us and we are wasting time and energy trying to maintain our vision of society based on integration and universal citizenship, regardless of our differences," he said.
"The only way to solve this impasse is to create our own country. If the leader of the CAQ and Mr. Jolin-Barrette are serious, they must have the courage to name the only solution: independence."
Legault has said his party is committed to not holding a referendum, though it has recently brought some new candidates on board in the upcoming election who were staunch past separatists.
Quebec solidaire, the third main opposition party, didn't respond to a request for comment from CTV.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
W5 Investigates | Daniel Jolivet insists he's not a murderer and says he has proof
Convicted murderer Daniel Jolivet, in prison for the past 30 years, has maintained his innocence since the day he was arrested. W5 reviews the evidence he painstakingly assembled while behind bars. W5's documentary 'Buried Evidence' airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on CTV.
The massive white orb drifting across U.S. airspace has triggered a diplomatic maelstrom and is blowing up on social media. A look at what's known about the balloon crossing the U.S. and what isn't.
In the field of cancer treatment, nothing is more important than diagnosing and treating the problem as quickly as possible — but according to new survey data, about one in four Canadian cancer patients report that they are still experiencing cancelled or postponed appointments.
The oldest preserved vertebrate brain has been found in a 319-million-year-old fossilized fish skull that was removed from an English coal mine over a century ago.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has said the supply of more advanced U.S. weaponry to Ukraine will only trigger more retaliatory strikes from Russia, up to the extent of Russia's nuclear doctrine.
The suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that was found floating over sensitive military sites in the western United States had been tracked by Canada's government since last weekend as it passed through Canadian airspace, sources tell CTV News.
It took 40 years, but former NHL player and coach Ted Nolan is now one of eight Indigenous ex-NHL-ers being honoured hockey trading cards as a part of Upper Deck's First Peoples Rookie Card series.
Indian police have arrested more than 2,000 men in a crackdown on illegal child marriages involving girls under the age of 18 in a northeastern state, officials said Saturday.
A B.C. man who was mistaken for the target in a police takedown and shot by an officer in 2013 has had his lawsuit alleging negligence dismissed.
Marit Stiles is expected to be confirmed as the new leader of the Ontario NDP today.
Speed cameras clocked a car driving 70 km/h over the limit. Here's how the owner fought the ticket and won
After being charged with speeding by a city-operated photo radar device, a Toronto family was able to successfully fight the charge in court largely due to one small detail.
'It's not bouncing back:' Workers continue to return to downtown Toronto but recovery lags behind some cities
Torontonians appear to be returning downtown in greater numbers but the pace of the city’s economic recovery still lags behind many other North American cities, a new study suggests.
With all of the Maritimes still under extreme cold warnings Saturday morning, more than 34,000 households and businesses are without power, as of 11 a.m.
Nova Scotia drivers who use diesel fuel will see a significant drop at the pumps on Saturday.
Temperatures are plummeting across the Maritimes as a blast of Arctic air moves into the region.
The public is being asked to avoid the area of Sixth Avenue in Woodstock, Ont. on Friday afternoon due to an “active police investigation” following a grim discovery made by police.
Extreme cold and snow squall warnings are impacting roads and school bus operations in the region, and multiple area roads and highways have been closed by OPP due to hazardous driving conditions.
Mounting resistance to infill development in neighbourhoods is testing city council’s commitment to The London Plan’s intensification targets. However, one prominent project is bucking the trend.
Canada's newest millionaire, an 18-year-old university freshman from northern Ontario, has achieved a lot of firsts with a recent lottery win. Here is her story.
Ontario Provincial Police have closed a portion of Highway 400 north of Toronto following multiple collisions due to whiteout conditions.
An investigation that lasted almost two years has resulted in moose hunting violation convictions for six people and a lodge in Red Lake in northwestern Ontario.
Alberta's high court is being asked to overturn a review board decision relating to the stabbing deaths of five young people at a Calgary house party on the grounds the former provincial justice minister interfered.
Police are investigating a series of tire slashing incidents in northeast Calgary.
Thousands of Alberta lawyers are expected to take part in an online debate Monday morning over the issue of mandatory Indigenous history training.
Police say they’ve arrested three people and one person was taken to hospital following an armed robbery at Conestoga Mall on Thursday.
Ontario Provincial Police are once again reminding drivers to clear the snow and ice off of their vehicles before they head out onto the road.
Waterloo regional police issued a robbery warning Thursday evening after they said two convenience stores and a restaurant in Kitchener were robbed within a 30 minute span.
Some legal advocates are questioning the effectiveness of police-worn body cameras as the RCMP plans to roll out the technology across the country.
The mayors of Port Coquitlam and Port Moody want Nav Canada — the organization that creates flight paths for airports across the country — to pause its plans for a new YVR arrivals route that will direct many large airplanes over their communities.
'Just absolute scum of the earth': Family upset after senior with dementia defrauded by someone posing as care worker
Seventy-nine-year-old William Herbert thought the woman coming to see him was a nurse who needed to do bloodwork. But instead of helping him, it’s alleged she stole from him.
An Edmonton man who received a ticket from the city under the phase 2 residential parking ban earlier this week says his street has finally been plowed — five days after his vehicle was ticketed.
Marc, Seth and Zacary James are the Melisizwe Brothers, and they performed at Jasper Place High School on Friday as part of Edmonton Public School Black History Month celebrations.
New MRI-radiation hybrid machine in Alberta expected to improve cancer treatment by at least 20 per cent
Technology in Alberta that is expected to allow doctors to more accurately and effectively treat cancerous tumours with radiation enters clinical trials next week.
'Wouldn't it be wonderful if they could get it back?': Woman on mission to identity people in old photographs
A River Canard, Ont. woman is on a mission to identify several unknown people in a handful of old photographs she said she found in a box inside her attic. She said she discovered the pictures and postcards while decluttering her home as part of her New Year’s resolution, noticing many date back to the mid 1940s.
The Windsor-Essex Board of Health will move ahead with a compromise that will allow the SafePoint consumption and treatment site (CTS) to open at its previously approved location as soon as possible.
Real estate in Windsor-Essex has been a rollercoaster ride over the past few years and in January, the wild ride continued.
Saskatchewan is reacting to the removal of controversial amendment G4 to Bill C-21 by the federal Liberals, which banned certain semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.
Residents in Regina's North Central community are voicing safety concerns after a water main break resulted in icy sidewalk and road conditions.
A local non-profit is hoping a new office space can help reconnect Indigenous youth to their culture.
EXTREME COLD WARNING
EXTREME COLD WARNING | It's the coldest Feb. 4 in 100 years but it will get warmer
Ottawa is experiencing its coldest Feb. 4 in 100 years but the temperature is expected to rise steadily over the next 24 hours.
The 17 automated speed enforcement cameras set up in school zones across the city of Ottawa issued a total of 127,939 speeding tickets in 2022.
Ottawa firefighters responded to three fires overnight as extreme cold gripped the capital.
BHP is moving forward with its plans to build the world's largest potash mine.
After months of driving around the city with an advertisement for a kidney donor on her bright red car, Debbie Onishenko will soon be able to rip off the decals as her search has ended.
The community of Dundurn is rallying behind a firefighter who lost her home in a fire.