Legault talks immigration with Tory leader Scheer, Quebec Mayor Labeaume
Published Thursday, November 1, 2018 1:02PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, November 1, 2018 7:33PM EDT
Immigration was on the table Thursday as Premier Francois Legault met with federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume.
While Scheer didn't make any firm commitments on the matter of immigration, he told Legault he’s listening.
The CAQ government is asking for new powers from Ottawa, so Quebec has more control over how the province's immigrants are selected. Legault has argued Quebec could better integrate newcomers if it reduces immigration levels by roughly 20 per cent – from 52,000 annually to 40,000.
Scheer would not talk specifics, focusing instead on his party's plans.
“I believe it’s important for the federal government, when it comes to our responsibilities under the immigration system, to make sure that the services are there to promote integration,” he said.
Premier Legault then met with Labeaume, who has been very outspoken on the immigration issue.
Labeaume said more immigrants are needed to fill jobs, as the region continues to deal with a labour shortage. The city estimates there are 17,000 jobs available in the region. The mayor said he wants to welcome 5,300 more skilled workers every year and is asking that administrative procedures be installed to reduce delays.
“We do tell the government annually what we need, and they work to fill those needs. If that's the plan, we're in,” said Labeaume in a brief afternoon meeting at the Aquarium du Quebec.
Legault would not commit to that, saying, “What is important is that we answer the needs of Quebec's companies.”
“What I told Regis Labeaume today is that I'm convinced we'll be able to do that,” he said.
Scheer, Legault talk religious symbols
After the meeting with Scheer, reporters questioned the Tory leader about the CAQ's plan to ban the wearing of religious symbols by authority figures, and Scheer was cautious in his response.
"I'm not going to answer a hypothetical question about a bill that's not before us today, to examine it. I respect provincial jurisdictions. Our party supports religious freedom of expression as a fundamental freedom. It's not something that we're going to embark on federally," said Scheer.
The Conservative leader then headed to the Davie Shipyard, recipient of a portion of a just-announced federal contract.
Scheer raised questions about the timing of that $7 billion announcement, saying that his party has always supported Quebec's ship-building industry.
Federal leaders are already campaigning in advance of next year's election, with many seats in Quebec considered to be up for grabs.
- With files from La Presse Canadienne