CAQ criticized for proposing stringent 'values tests' for immigrants
The Coalition Avenir Quebec is facing criticism over its proposed immigration policy and its plan to impose a “values test” on newcomers.
The party said if it becomes the next provincial government in Quebec that it would pressure the federal government to expel people who fail certain tests.
According to the plan, immigrants to Quebec would first be granted a three-year residency permit and would then have to pass a series of tests, such as knowledge of French, and whether their values align with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The suggestion was roundly criticized by the party’s opponents from all sides.
“What he's proposing simply makes absolutely no sense,” said Immigration Minister David Heurtel.
“That's not a way to be welcoming, that's not a way to integrate people,” said PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee.
“We will never support any proposition that creates two classes of citizens,” added Quebec solidaire MNA Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
After critics pointed out a provincial government has no power to remove immigrants, the CAQ came up with the proposal to notify the federal government of immigrants that it would designate as having no status.
The CAQ's justice critic, Simon Jolin-Barrette, said the plan is designed to help people join Quebec society.
"Our plan is about responsibility. We will help the immigrants to have a great integration here in Quebec," said Jolin-Barrette.
Heurtel said it was completely unrealistic to expect Ottawa to comply with the CAQ's proposal.
"I think fundamentally what Mr. Legault is saying is that you must fear immigration and that's scary. On the contrary, Quebec and Canada were and are built on immigration and immigration is a good thing," said Heurtel. “What is he going to do? Is he going to hire extra police to roam Quebec and expel immigrants that he doesn't like?”
“The deeper and the more fundamental problem is the suspicion that underlines every one of those propositions,” added Nadeau-Dubois.
The party now says it would flag people who fail the test to the federal government and rely on Ottawa's cooperation to expel them.
“Accepting someone to be in your extended family and saying, ‘During the first three years or four years, we may deport you.’ The CAQ says, ‘We may ask Ottawa to deport you,’” said Lisee, criticizing the notion.
The CAQ's immigration platform was leaked to L'Actualité newsmagazine earlier this week.
The CAQ said it is a way to ensure that immigrants are able to live in rural Quebec. More than 85 per cent of immigrants live in the Montreal area.
Even though provincial governments have been trying for years to encourage people to live in remote areas, it seems most immigrants find it nearly impossible to find work outside of the metropolis even though two-thirds of immigrants are chosen based on qualifications and skills.
The CAQ would also like to reduce immigration from 50,000 per year to 40,000 people per year.
The Liberal Party said that would slow economic growth since Quebec has a labour shortage now, and is expected to have a labour shortage for years to come.
The CAQ said fewer immigrants would mean more help and more resources for those who do come.
“What do they have when they come here? No job. No integration. And that's the legacy of the Liberal Party. They didn't do what they had to do to help the immigrants who came here,” said Jolin-Barrette.