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21 March 2018

Time for the CAQ to make public its ‘values test’

By David Heurtel

MNA for Viau
Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion

Source : Montreal Gazette

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Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault “should reveal the questions and defend their justification, or renounce his position.”

In an op-ed piece published in the Montreal Gazette March 20, Nathalie Roy, immigration critic for the Coalition Avenir Québec, offered up boilerplate clichés on tolerance, yet refused to specifically outline the criteria, details and mechanics of the CAQ’s values test which, upon failure, would lead to the expulsion of new immigrants.

Since my appointment as minister of immigration, diversity and inclusion last October, I have met with Quebecers of all backgrounds who have chosen Quebec, its common language, culture and democratic values, and who are committed to contributing actively to its economic, social and cultural development.

Immigration is not a new phenomenon in Quebec. Take, for example, the neighbourhood of St-Michel, which I represent in the National Assembly. Over the past 50 years, St-Michel has received successive waves of immigrants from Italy in the 1950s and ’60s, Haiti in the ’60s and ’70s and, more recently, from the Maghreb. Today, this Montreal neighbourhood is home to Quebecers from some 60 countries who contribute to the rich entrepreneurial and community fabric that this diversity has helped us create together.

I have visited 10 regions of Quebec and met entrepreneurs, business leaders, municipal councillors, dedicated women and men who are working with community groups on integration and francisation. One message comes through loud and clear: with the current rate of economic growth at its highest in 15 years and unemployment at its lowest in 40 years, all of Quebec is facing a demographic challenge. Many regions are confronting difficult labour shortages. Immigration is one of the clear answers to this challenge; immigrants can help ensure our economic development in regions across Quebec.

Like many of my colleagues, my primary reason for entering politics was to fight against the Charter of Values put forward by the previous Parti Québécois government. It so fundamentally betrayed the principles of openness, tolerance, respect and inclusion that characterize the Quebec I know.

Now François Legault is reigniting this debate and dividing Quebecers by promising a values test for new immigrants, and the threat of expulsion upon failure. What are the values to be tested? Upon what standard are they based? What criteria will Legault employ to expel those who fail? These are legitimate questions that he must answer.

Let’s remember, by adhering to the Déclaration sur les valeurs communes de la société québécoise, immigrants who come to Quebec already commit to respecting the shared values of our society, values entrenched in our Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

Instead of dividing Quebecers, Legault should make public his proposed test, reveal the questions and defend their justification, or renounce his position. We also call upon the MNAs and candidates of the CAQ to tell us if they agree with Legault’s stance and, if so, insist that the contents of this test be made public.

Instead of sowing division, as Legault proposes, our government is working, each day, to build a modern Quebec where all Quebecers can contribute to the development of our society. At a forum on promoting diversity and fighting discrimination last Dec. 5, the premier announced a series of concrete measures, accompanied by an historic $15-million investment to support immigrants in relocating in Quebec’s regions.

Further announced measures will modernize our approach to welcoming and integrating immigrants, with an emphasis on responding to regional and labour-market needs. This change will be realized through a regional presence of the Immigration Ministry, enhanced partnerships with small business, municipalities and immigrant integration agencies, increased and better adapted francisation services and improved co-ordination with stakeholders on the ground.

Women and men of diverse origins have chosen Quebec; they have come here to build a better life and they want to contribute to Quebec’s future. Let us promote and celebrate this richness with openness and support.


David Heurtel
MNA for Viau
Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion