In the Assistant Editor’s Notebook | You don’t have to talk about it

There may not have been a “ballot box issue” in the last Quebec elections, but we can say that the CAQ worked hard to impose a “ballot box issue”, that of immigration.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

For better and for worse.

Because the problem with this identity debate is that it unfortunately tends to bring out the most gritty in everyone, in addition to encouraging candidates, elected officials and ministers to say anything and everything. Not just at the CAQ, by the way.

On the one hand, we play with the fear of the other and woke, the threat to cohesion and to the nation is brandished. And on the other, we are not shy about accusing of xenophobia and narrow-mindedness all those who dare to address the issues of thresholds and the integration of immigrants.

Former Liberal leader Philippe Couillard even spoke of the “embers of intolerance” blown by those who question the number of landed immigrants, as if there was something sulphurous even to mention the subject.

And let’s not think that this is an issue specific to the distinct society that is Quebec: identity is carving out an increasing place in the debate, here and elsewhere, including in Canada.

Remember the 2019 federal elections. Identity issues were omnipresent there: Maxime Bernier who said no to “mass immigration”, Yves-François Blanchet who said he was the proud representative of “we” Quebecers, Jagmeet Singh who lost supporters in the Maritimes because of turbans, etc.

Clearly, identity has managed to make its way into the dominant themes of public debate. So much so that one wonders if, in Quebec, this question has not replaced sovereignty as the main issue of division.

It is as a “post-mortem” of the last elections that I dare to address this delicate issue here, because the lesson we draw from The Press of the 36 days of campaigning, it is precisely that we must… dare to tackle this delicate issue!

This is what we promise to do more of in the coming months and years. In order to bring more clarity, facts and statistics to a debate that too often leaves room for enormities and claims of intent.

Take only the number of immigrants: is there really an “integration capacity” that would be exceeded at 50,001e immigrant?

Do the party targets, which range from 35,000 to 80,000, have any scientific basis?

Is immigration a threat to the vitality of French and to the preservation of Quebec values, as we understand it? Or is it a solution to the labor shortage and demographic decline in Quebec? Or all of these at once?

Is the “anglicization” of Montreal caused by immigration? Or should we rather speak of a “defrancization” of the island caused by the exodus of young French-speaking families to the crowns?

Are there approaches that work to facilitate integration and ensure harmonious cohabitation? Does the government invest the necessary resources in the francization of immigrants? Does Quebec really need additional powers, or is it exaggerating the importance of refugees and family reunifications?

In short, many questions, but few answers.

Clearly, these questions will act as groundswells of public debate in the coming years. Whether we want it or not.

And that’s why we will continue to cover the topic, as we already do, but adding resources. We will thus assign a full-time journalist to identity issues. We will multiply the files and analyses. We will dig deeper into the issues and check the facts. All so that you, readers, are better able to make up your mind on these topical issues.

This is all the more important since immigration cannot be reduced to clichés that are too often heard, such as “violence” or “unemployment”. We cannot see it only as a threat to “our way of life” or a risk of “Louisianization” of Quebec.

In the same way, we cannot approach the subject only through the economic contribution of new arrivals and the influx of guardian angels into hospitals.

We cannot ignore the fact that Quebec is a cultural and linguistic minority that is and will always remain under pressure.

This is what may partly explain the CAQ’s impressive score last Monday, despite a campaign criticized for its lack of consideration for immigrants: there is a very real fear about the future of Quebec, and François Legault’s remarks in this regard hit home. Right or wrong.

Hence the importance of exploring the issue in detail in a factual and considered way, of being an open and responsible space for dialogue, especially in view of the turmoil that the referenda on the powers in immigration mentioned by the Premier of Quebec and the intervention of the Federal Prime Minister on the Quebec law on secularism.

Immigration is neither a failure nor a panacea, it is a now dominant issue that we will dig deeper into The Press.

We would like to thank the author of this short article for this outstanding content

In the Assistant Editor’s Notebook | You don’t have to talk about it

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