Still stinging from election defeat, Quebec Liberals move away from multiculturalism, focus on identity
Quebec Liberal Opposition Leader Pierre Arcand rises during question period at the National Assembly in Quebec City, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
The youth wing of the Quebec Liberals, which is holding its annual conference at Quebec City’s Laval University this weekend, is urging the party to adopt a more nationalist tone.
Some attendees said they believe the Couillard government, which was soundly defeated by the Coalition Avenir Quebec in last year’s election, had not sufficiently advocated for Quebec’s unique position and the party must move in that direction if it hopes to win back Francophone voters.
Some resolutions the Young Liberals are debating at the conference would move the party in a more identity-oriented direction, focusing on a defence of the French language and affirmation of Quebec’s difference from the rest of Canada.
One resolution under consideration concerns the relevance of adopting a law that would make interculturalism, rather than multiculturalism, the model used to promote the integration of immigrants into the French-speaking majority.
The meeting will bring together 400 young activists who will debate positions on various topics, including the promotion of a green economy.
Several Liberal MNAs, including interim party leader Pierre Arcand, will be present.
In the 2018 election the party was largely shut out in ridings outside the Montreal area. Arcand acknowledged the party must rethink its positions, saying in they “must show French-speaking Quebecers a greater interest in issues such as the language issue and efforts made on the cultural level.”
MNA Gaetan Barrette said he felt the Couillard government had not been in tune with the Quebec population on identity. He criticized the administration, of which he was a member, for not doing enough in that regard and criticized the multiculturalism model, saying he opposes those who say Quebec culture is one made up of many.
Barrette was reacting to the recent statement by the chair of the Liberals’ Cultural Communities Commission, Mohammed Barhone, who said he was opposed to promoting interculturalism. Barhone said such a model would create a hierarchy among Quebecers.
Arcand said Barhone’s comments did not reflect the position of the party.