Francois Legault’s Immigration Policy

I recently had the chance to meet Francois Legault, founder of the Coalition pour l’Avenir du Québec – a new provincial political party. The party is positioning itself as a centre-right option to the Liberals and Parti Québecois. Most notably, he proposes to put aside sovereignty – for now. So far, they have proposed some interesting changes to the education system, healthcare, and the economy. Most of his proposals make sense – reform teacher pay, use mining revenues to reduce the deficit, encourage entrepreneurs with financing and push major overhauls to the health system’s administrative apparatus.

What is most appealing to me is his focus driven platform. He does not claim to have solutions for much, but he does propose to take major action on a few items. Francois Legault is a businessman in every sense of the word, so it’s no surprise he is going for the low hanging fruit that will have the biggest impact on the bottom line. We will see if he can stick to this tiny platform through an election campaign.

All that being said, one item he proposes seems out of step with the rest. He wants to temporarily freeze immigration.

Francois Legault, under the culture et langue (culture and language) part of his platform, recommends two things:

  1. Improve the amount and quality of french language instruction for immigrants to Québec.
  2. Put a freeze on immigration for 2 years at 45 000 people (in 2011, we expect approximatively 53000 immigrants to Québec in 2011,up from 41 683 in 2010 Wikipedia).

From his Plan d’Action,

Les ressources consacrées à l’intégration des immigrants à la majorité francophone doivent être substantiellement bonifiées. Le nombre des nouveaux arrivants au Québec devra être limité à 45 000 pendant
deux ans afin de redéployer les politiques d’intégration.

I agree 100% with idea number 1 on improved integration and french education. Though this blog post is in english, I fully support loi 101 and mandatory french immersion courses for immigrants to Québec. State business should be conducted in French and the government should continue to ensure French is the dominant language in Québec.

Though I support improving our use of French in government and business, I fundamentally disagree on point #2. Limiting immigration to Québec is extremely dangerous. If anything, we should quadruple immigration to Québec and put in place systems to encourage family growth. The surest path to sovereignty is through population stagnation.

Québec has progressively become a smaller and smaller portion of Canada. At confederation, Québec was over 50% of Canada and today, 2011, we represent less than 25%. As our population decreases, our political weight in Canada decreases. The house of commons will likely be rejigged, as it should be, to reflect today’s population and Québec will lose seats. We see an erosion of the use of French at the Federal government as demonstrated by the appointment of a unilingual Auditor General and a unilingual Supreme Court judge.

This shift should be very concerning to all Québecers – francophone, anglophone, and allophone.

So, my proposals are quite simple:

  1. Increase immigration from Francophone countries to ensure at least 150 000 immigrants are welcomed to Québec annually by 2015.
  2. Increase free french immersion courses and impose a basic french test for all permanent resident requests in Québec as well as out of province canadians who move here.
  3. Offer a subsidy to Québec families for every child after their second, on the order of 10 000 $ that is payable only at age 18 and can only be used for higher education. This should be modelled on the Russian program which was recently cancelled.

To those who say this would cost too much or be too much immigration, a point of reference. In 1913, Canada welcomed over 400,870 immigrants – which represented, approximatively 5% of our population (Canada had 7,632,000 citizens). In today’s terms, Québec has an estimated population of 8 008 000 and we could therefore match those peaks with 5% immigration, or 400 000 immigrants per year.

If Québec wishes to remain as a principal partner of confederation and if we want Canada to remain a bilingual partnership between Francophones and Anglophones – we must take dramatic steps today.

I am very interested in your comments and ideas surrounding this idea.

Immigration also creats jobs, see here.

A good interview with the Président du congrès maghrébin here (though the news host is not great).

Published on November 27, 2011