Immigration Will Keep Quebec In Canada!

Péquistes Worry as Immigration Threatens French Culture and Language... 

Former Premiere Jean Charest had a reason to support massive immigration to Quebec. It meant more future voters to eventually join the English electorate of the Liberal party. Mass immigration was already very popular with the Federal Liberals.. It certainly benefited the Liberals but, not necessarily the Francophonie.

New immigrants to Quebec see the Provincial Libs and the Federal Libs as the same party. Both have captured a large proportion of the vote from Asians, Africans and Pakistani citizens Charest had candidates like Fatima Houda-Pépin in La Pinière and others with diverse backgrounds to reap the rewards of the recent immigrant vote.

The increase in the number of immigrants admitted in Quebec has grown steadily since the 1980s. This has continued despite fluctuating labor needs. In total, more than one million immigrants settled in Quebec between 1971 and 2006, and nearly 200,000 between 2007 and 2010. This is significant, but for some groups it is still not enough.

Why does the current government of Quebec want 50,000 immigrants this year?

Big business leaders argue that we need more immigrants to compensate for the ageing population, low birth rate, and meet the needs of employers. But the number of immigrants who cannot find employment is twice as high as the native-born population. Two major banks (Toronto Dominion and the Bank of Montreal) recently published a market analysis demonstrating that there is no shortage of labour. Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has acknowledged that employers' demands were an "invention" to curb the increase in wages. If there was a shortage of labor we would have seen a sharp rise in wages, but they hardly follow the pace of inflation, he argued.

According to the Center for the Reform of Immigration Policies, an independent research group, the government should focus on the training and return to work of the young who have lost their jobs in the manufacturing sector due to globalization . Governments should devote significant resources to training rather than seeking to integrate foreign labour. Immigration should not be a cheap reserve of labour to compete with those who are unemployed and seeking jobs.

So how are immigration numbers set in Quebec? After consulting demographers and economists (who may or may not use crystal balls) the numbers are set. This year, the Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities, Diane de Courcy, simply maintained the policy established by the Liberals while announcing a possible reduction of 5,000 immigrants. However, this number is questionable because the real figures will be known only at the end of the year.

Thousands of files of applications have already been accepted, even more are about to be,  and a large number of families have already committed substantial sums to come to Quebec. The Minister could not, in good faith, radically change course in the middle of the year. By default the PQ is upholding the principles of its Liberal predecessors to justify the successive increases in the level of immigration to maintain the weight of Quebec in Canada.

It remains to be seen whether Quebec immigration policies will change. Look at the Auditor General of Quebec's report for 2010/11. It called negligence of the Ministry and criticized fanciful projections. According to the report, the Department is grossly incompetent. Only 9% of selected workers between 2006 and 2008, had a profile that met the requirements "of preferred areas of training," while 65% had received no point criterion for "field training." This means that the selection process was severely messed up. Immigration accepted candidates condemned to unemployment or to plod away in odd jobs at low pay.

In regard to the number of immigrants, Quebec receives proportionately less than English Canada, but more than the United States and several other industrialized countries. Demographic studies say it is mathematically impossible that increased immigration substantially influences the numbers of our aging population. Nor does it compensate for the low birth rate. On the economic front, various research in Canada and the United Kingdom concluded that "regardless of the method used, whatever the country, whatever the period, the results converge to the same conclusion: immigration has only a marginal effect ... on the evolution of per capita income, wages and unemployment."

If the effect of immigration is marginal to economics it is certainly not linguistically. The idea that we must admit more immigrants to maintain Quebec's weight and ensure the future of the only French-speaking society in North America is driven by old provincial Liberal Party doctrine. Far from protecting the place of the French, massive immigration threatens its long-term survival. While 89% of the Quebec population speaks French at home, more than half of the immigrants adopt English. Their children will be forced to speak French in school, but quickly turn into English-speakers once they arrive in University. There must be a profound questioning of the Quebec immigration policy.

(This was my summary of an article that recently appeared on
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