Minority groups 'disappointed' by Young Liberals' move towards nationalism
Daniel J. Rowe, CTV Montreal
Published Sunday, August 11, 2019 6:58PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 12, 2019 6:47AM EDT
The Quebec Young Liberals want the provincial party to move away from a multicultural platform towards a more nationalist or intercultural position.
As around 400 Liberal delegates debated positions at Laval University over the past few days, Young Liberals of Quebec president Stephen Stril suggested the party should push for a law formally recognizing interculturalism, as the model by which minorities are integrated into Quebec society.
He insisted the position is the one that has governed the Quebec Liberals for 50 years, and that it will protect, not hurt, minority rights.
"The main difference is that it recognizes the presence of francophone majority within the population and puts the emphasis on interaction and dialogue between different groups in the society in order to be sure that we're forming and creating an identity that is common to everyone and that respects the rights and liberties of every minority," he said.
The law, Stril said, will be a way to defend minority rights.
"It's one way to defend them," said Stril. "When we see that the CAQ is will restrict individual liberties for people, those are things that will make it harder for people to have dialogue between one another."
Quebec Community Groups Network President Geoffrey Chambers was disappointed with the change in policy.
"It's a pretty discouraging message," he said. "They are making a statement, a suggestion of the greater importance of the old-stock francophone population than everybody else, and I think that that's not a helpful policy direction for the future of Quebec, so I'm discouraged."
Liberal Cultural Communities Commission head Mohammed Barhone is firmly against the position posting on his Facebook page earlier this week that the policy would cause further divisions between French and minority communities in Quebec.
Chambers said the policy will limit minority presence in the Quebec government.
"The reason they'd adopt such a resolution is to basically suggest that everybody doesn't have an equal right to hope to see their cultural tradition reflected in public policy in the way the government treats people," he said.
Several Liberal MNAs, including interim leader Pierre Arcand, have greeted the push towards interculturalism warmly. Arcand said the party must show Francophones, the party has an interest in language and culture issues.
Leadership candidate Dominque Anglade also endorses interculturalism.
Stril said that interculturalism will in no way change the Liberal's stance on defending minority rights.
"The rights of the minority, the rights that are constitutional, won't change, and we as a party will continue to defend those rights against any political proposition that the CAQ will propose," said Stihl. "Quebec society is very diverse. We have to celebrate that. Someone like Leonard Cohen is just as Quebec as I am. We have to make more discussions between all the communities."