“Gaffer” to victory

After an acrimonious election campaign, François Legault promised to be “the prime minister of all Quebecers”. This is also what he promised when he was elected in 2018. He then spoke of the “spirit of unity” in which he intended to govern “for all Quebecers”.

Posted at 1:00 a.m.

At the time, we were coming out of an election campaign where the head of the CAQ had multiplied what had been called “blunders” on immigrants, giving the impression that he had improvised populist promises, without thinking too much about it. , unable to back them up with facts.

While promising to “take less, but take care of it”, he had a very strange way of implementing the second part of his pretty slogan. Blunder after blunder, he seemed to want to lure a certain electorate by exploiting in a not very subtle way the fear of immigrants with values ​​tests and threats of deportation.

From how many “blunders” can we, should we speak of deliberate strategy? And from when can we, should we worry about it?

These questions have become more relevant than ever as François Legault has once again “blundered” towards victory, leading a campaign that looks like deja vu where the immigrant has too often served as a scarecrow.

“In the coming months, we will talk to each other in a respectful way as we are able to do,” said the Prime Minister in a victory speech where he tried to repair the broken pots. As if he recognized that it was not at all what he had done during the campaign, multiplying the statements which divide.

No, I am not saying that we should not discuss immigration during the election campaign. No, I’m not saying either that it’s racist to worry about immigration thresholds, integration capacities and francization in a Quebec where French is in decline.

We can totally talk about it. These are legitimate concerns. But it’s all in how you approach them.

When a Prime Minister on the campaign trail crudely associates immigration with extremism and violence or an outgoing Minister of Immigration declares, without regard to the facts, that 80% of immigrants do not work, do not speak French and do not adhere to the values ​​of Quebec society, we are not exactly in the responsible, respectful or constructive debate of ideas.

We are much more in a dangerous anti-immigration rhetoric which, alas, here as elsewhere, uses fear to manipulate public opinion. A hunt for scapegoats which, in the midst of a climate crisis, succeeds in making people believe that a false migratory peril is more serious than a real climate peril.

From a François Legault who had nevertheless promised to be the prime minister of all Quebecers, we would have expected more height. Unfortunately, it already seems a long way off, that time when, at the worst of the health crisis, Mr. Legault praised the invaluable work of all these “guardian angels” from elsewhere who helped keep our health system at arm’s length.

In his speeches, the immigrant is very rarely presented in a positive way. Most of the time during this campaign, he was first and foremost presented as a threat. This constantly widens the gap between perception and reality.

It will be said that the “blunders” caquists about immigration were most often followed by excuses. But here again, one can ask the question: from how many laconic words of apology can one begin to have a little doubt as to their sincerity?

If the misleading and hurtful statements of former minister Jean Boulet, who had no trouble getting re-elected, did not lead to the withdrawal of his candidacy, does this mean that despite the apologies , we judged that it is not so serious? That Quebecers of immigrant origin shocked by these falsehoods are ultimately second-class citizens?

One thing is certain, whether or not we are satisfied with the Prime Minister’s new promise, that does not erase the deleterious effect of such a speech on the social fabric. Dividing and conquering and then promising to heal the wounds is not the most convincing way to bring people together. If the re-elected Prime Minister really cares about social cohesion, he will have to see to it.

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“Gaffer” to victory

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