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Immigrants

at 10:34 - 10th, November 2008
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Values pledge 'a slippery slope' Immigrant groups uncomfortable with Charest's plan
 The Gazette Thursday, October 30, 2008
A Quebec government plan to force new immigrants to sign a declaration saying they will respect Quebec's common values is a political stunt designed to increase the Charest government's support prior to a provincial election, opponents of the new plan said yesterday.
Starting in January, immigrants applying to come to Quebec will be required, as part of their application process, to sign a declaration promising to learn French and acknowledging that they understand that men and woman have equal rights and that political and religious powers are separate.
The declaration will be translated into several languages so that immigrants can understand what they are reading, but they must sign the French version.
Anyone who refuses to sign the declaration will not have their application accepted, Quebec Immigration Minister Yolande James said yesterday after unveiling a series of measures designed to help immigrants better integrate into Quebec society.
"Coming to Quebec is not a right, it is a privilege," James said. "If you refuse to sign the declaration, you won't be able to come here."
James said she doesn't foresee opposition to the declaration from prospective immigrants because they probably would already have knowledge of Quebec society.
"When people leave their country and come to Quebec, it is because they see the potential that Quebec has to offer," she said.
Ehab Lotayef, the vice-president of Parole Arabe, an Arab community organization, said: "It is a political move to gain votes, and I hope that most Quebecers see through this.
"I don't know what it can achieve. I am all for new immigrants learning more about the place they are coming to, but this is a place that already has a Charter of Rights."
The director of a Montreal organization that helps immigrants said she believes the new plan is designed to appease a segment of the population that is worried that too many newcomers don't share the values of Quebecers.
"I am uncomfortable with making people sign this," said Anne Marie Rodrigues, director of the Centre d'Action Socio-Communitaire de Montréal.
James defended the decision to make prospective immigrants sign the declaration, saying the values in it are based on principles in Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the French Language Charter.
She admitted there wasn't much the government could do if immigrants refused to abide by Quebec values once they are here.
Rodrigues said she doesn't think prospective immigrants will refuse to sign the declaration "because they want to move here."
By the end of December, about 47,000 people will have immigrated to Quebec this year.
Although the Charest government announced the new plan yesterday, his party first floated the idea back in December 2007 when it appeared before the Bouchard-Taylor hearings on reasonable accommodation.
Hïrouxville town councillor André Drouin said last night that he was thrilled with the contents of the declaration.
"It is everything that Hïrouxville has been asking for," he said. "They say that French is our official language and that (immigrants) should learn French before they come here. We want them to tell people: 'This is how things are done in Quebec. Do you agree or not?' ''
Hïrouxville, a town in the Mauricie, made international headlines in January 2007 after its council adopted a "code of life" in which foreigners were advised that public stonings, burnings and genital mutilations of women are not allowed in the community.
Although he supports the plan, Drouin said that he is worried that the declaration will be hard to enforce.
"If an immigrant signs the declaration and then decides he can't wear a security helmet at work because of his religion, what will happen?" he asked.
"That's why we want no accommodation. When you enter the country, there should be no religious accommodations."
Salem Elmenyawi, the president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said he was alarmed to learn that the government is going to force people to sign a declaration. "This is very serious," he said. "This is a slippery slope, especially when we already have the Charter of Rights."
He said immigrants who are desperate to come to Quebec will "sign anything you put in front of them."
Some of the measures announced yesterday were suggested by the Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accommodation, which was set up by Premier Jean Charest to examine the treatment of religious minorities in Quebec after several highly publicized cases of religious accommodation.
They include increasing funding for groups that support immigrants and promoting interculturalism, or diversity. Immigrants who have been accepted to Quebec will now be able to take free French courses before they leave their home country - either online or at the Alliance Française.
Once they arrive in Quebec, the government will ask immigrants to attend a seminar on adapting to life here, called How to Live in Quebec. The course will be given in several languages to accommodate the 35 per cent of immigrants who don't know French when they arrive here.
The province also plans to favour immigrants who have the job skills needed in the Quebec labour market and says it will step up efforts to support immigrants who are having trouble finding work.
In an effort to combat inequality, discrimination and prejudice directed toward cultural communities, particularly visible minorities, Quebec plans a host of measures to help Quebecers better understand immigrants.
The plan includes a publicity campaign attacking racism and discrimination and educating employers about the importance of hiring immigrants.
Lotayef said it is crucial that professionals coming to Quebec have their credentials recognized more quickly.
"You come in as an engineer and you have to work at a gas station or as a computer data entry person," he said. "If you feel you are accepted by the society, it would create more harmony. These are the issues we should be working on."

- - -

Declaration highlights
The declaration of common values contains several statements including:
- Quebec is a free and democratic society.
- French is the official language.
- Men and women have equal rights.
- Quebec is a pluralistic society.
- Quebec is governed by the French Language Charter. French is the common language of work, teaching, communicating, commerce and business.
- Political and religious institutions in Quebec are separate.
The declaration ends with the following statement:
Je déclare vouloir vivre au Québec dans le cadre et le respect de ses valeurs communes et vouloir apprendre le français si je ne le parle pas déja.
Gazette translation
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008


My thoughts: it's about bloody time. though i think he's trying to steal a bit of dumont's idea here because i think dumont said something about closing off the border after a certain amount of immigrants came in. which i'm lso totally for. quebec is losing who it is because of the influx of arabs(muslim) and chinese coming here. there are a small proportion of them who do change their way of life to suit quebec and north america a little more but the majority are either coming in with their beliefs intact and converting people or switching back afterwards.
it's time this stops.

 
andrew andrew
News comment 1 | User comment 1315 | 14:00 - 10th, Nov 2008


totally disagree.. i can't even begin to explain why, there are so many things about this that are very xenophobic and borderline racist

Schu Schu
News comment 2 | User comment 370 | 18:06 - 10th, Nov 2008


It's about as meaningful as those "I agree" boxes you check off. No one can really know if you're following it either. Though, in a way, the only good thing about it is that he did before Marois did with her Nuremberg Report... (Because in her case, she'd actually pursue it a la 1984). I also don't think Quebec is losing anything except what a few xenophobes think they're losing. Immigration was never a provincial control either.

And French is not the official language. It's a dual language (English/French) as written in Bill 101 and our rights to language in the constitution. Hello conflict! Of course, no one actually reads Bill 101 in it's entirety. They just pull out the parts that suit their needs, spew it to the public, who believe everything they're told...

vikie vikie
News comment 3 | User comment 384 | 19:10 - 10th, Nov 2008


Still think that immigrants should be obligated to learn French in Quebec. Choose Ontario if you don't want to make that respectful effort.

Ideally, immigration should be about moving to place that you like, within a culture that you admire. Quebec is french, this is all we have left.

Next thing you will know, French Quebecois people wont have a culture anymore. They will end up like Native Americans, not knowing who they are and where they come from. I don't know if you are aware, but Natives have huge social integration problem, high suicide rates and low income jobs.

The stakes are not the sames for English speakers here, English everywhere else in Canada and the culture different/yet much more similar than for they French counterpart.

vikie vikie
News comment 4 | User comment 384 | 19:16 - 10th, Nov 2008


FYI: New Brunswick is the ONLY official bilingual province in Canada.

1. French is the official language of Québec

1977, c. 5, s. 1.

The French language became the sole official language of Quebec with the adoption of the Official Language Act in 1974.

Please respect it.

andrew andrew
News comment 5 | User comment 1315 | 20:24 - 10th, Nov 2008


we have to remember that jean charest pulled this out of his hat right before he called elections, so this is purely to score political points with nationalist-leaning quebecers .. this declaration has absolutely no substance.

Immigrants coming here know that quebec is a mostly french-speaking province, they aren't stupid and don't need to sign some bullshit 'I promise' paper. I agree that for someone to settle in Montreal, it's important for them to learn French, simply because it's natural to learn the language of the majority. Having said that, it is not surprising that they want to learn and practice english too, for two main reasons a) quebec is in north america & b) english is the international language of business, and associated to that, the language of success

andrew andrew
News comment 6 | User comment 1315 | 20:35 - 10th, Nov 2008


There is a huge anti-english stigma among francophone quebecers, and it's understandable to a certain extent. They are a minority in a sea of 300 million english-speakers, but for how long will this fear last?

Ever since the the adoption of Bill 101, major companies have left the province and outisde investments are very rare..people don't want to invest money here. Prime example, the head office of the bank of MONTREAL is in Toronto. Why? because companies are not allowed to ask their employees to be bilingual, that means companies cannot operate on a pan-canadian, or international basis here, limiting the city's market to quebec only. A complete shame when you think we were a prominent city on the world stage in the 60's.

andrew andrew
News comment 7 | User comment 1315 | 20:46 - 10th, Nov 2008


The other thing that makes no sense in terms of Bill 101 or the immigrant declaration thing is that the government's claim that French is the sole official language of Quebec. Demographically speaking, that is completely inaccurate. Yes, French is the language of the majority, English-speakers form a significant portion of the population. And just like Francophones, English people are part of the city's history and a fact of life in the province. Bill 101 tries to make the english community invisible. If anything, it must lead to a great deal of confusion for when immigrants arrive, they are expecting to be in a French-only society only to hear English being spoken often.

This also irks me. That 'Quebec Culture' must be protected. Culture is not static, it evolves over time. It is

andrew andrew
News comment 8 | User comment 1315 | 20:51 - 10th, Nov 2008


completely stupid to think that one's culture can be preserved while bringing in people from all over the world. These new arrivals will make their contribution to the culture, and it will evolve. If politicians really wanted to preserve in the short-run local culture, they would shut the province's doors to immigration, refuse anyone new from coming in. Granted, Quebecers aren't having babies, so in a century or two without immigration, there would be no one left here.

The last, and I think most important point, is that I think we need to find ways to encourage immigrants to come here, because as it stands, for the reasons discusses above, immigrants aren't too keen on coming to Quebec in the first place.

andrew andrew
News comment 9 | User comment 1315 | 20:59 - 10th, Nov 2008


If you look at the numbers, for a province of 7.8 million people, we only took in something like 45000 immigrants last year (this doesn't include the numbers who left). Toronto, takes in almost 100,000 and Vancouver, half the size of Montreal, takes in roughly the same amount of immigrants as the whole of Quebec each year.

To sum it up, Quebec isn't the first place immigrants want to live. Asking them to sign some xenophobic paper will only discourage them from coming here further. I truly believe immigrants enhance society, people can learn so much from each other, totally worth the occasional culture clash. If you like living in a white, boring, monocultural society and ever-declining city? Then I would say endorse this project.

Alex Alex
News comment 10 | User comment 4902 | 9:47 - 11th, Nov 2008


i think the issue is that quebec's culture isn't just the language. it's everything about quebec, the people, the arts, the shit they show on tv, what the hicks out in the middle of nowhere eat for dinner and the language.

the more i thought about this topic the more i realized things

the fact that quebec thinks it can protect it's culture through strictly protecting the language is a little asinine, and i think it stems more from the french-english problems of the past.

i'm english so i have a hard time fully understanding what people like vikie feel when it comes to this. though there is a bigger problem here than protecting the language.

Alex Alex
News comment 11 | User comment 4902 | 9:54 - 11th, Nov 2008


no french people having kids is a massive issue when a culture like the muslim culture are having 5-6 kids and chinese people are coming with their entire extended families.

listen, i'm not racist. i hate all races equally, including white (which by my looks and background you'd think that's what i am) i am, however, anti-religious, but thats another story altogether.

my family came from a lot of these countries where a lot of these muslim people came from and i'll tell you they're not happy about the state of things now. i say we go the way of australia and say, practice here if you want, but i don't want to know or see (no burqua policy).
you're in canada now, act like it. conform to our rules or get the fuck out. bring your flavour if you want, but remember, this is still quebec.

Alex Alex
News comment 12 | User comment 4902 | 9:59 - 11th, Nov 2008


the issue is that if we give them the space they want like they have in england or in france they'll take more than what we give them.
north americans in general are too complacent when it comes to these issues now. they need a good kick in the ass, and unfortunately i think i'll be around when it happens.

you know in england they're allowing sharia law in the muslim community? and in france there's a muslim politician who is pushing to get sharia law included in french law. that includes stoning for adultery and chopping off a hand for theft.

it's a huge step backwards.

Carl Carl
News comment 13 | User comment 1159 | 10:00 - 11th, Nov 2008


The politics in this province are fucked up even for how politics are around this world. You have the french who are so threatened of losing themselves (somehow) that they pretty much make it a goal to put down all other cultures to the point where they don't exist.

I don't think you could ever lose the quebec culture even if you tried. With the arts, television, etc we have our own distinct society.

While I do think our values should be inherited for those who come to stay they shouldn't be shoehorned either into one specific mould. As Andy said our culture evolves. Were a bilingual province and let it be that way. If you start promoting one over the other aren't you just turning into some fanatical zealot.

Alex Alex
News comment 14 | User comment 4902 | 10:01 - 11th, Nov 2008


and this is what i mean when i say this immigrant thing is good thing. it's a step in the right direction if they actually follow through with it.

fighting for french is an uphill battle and will never win, as much as i would like it to actually work, and i'm being honest when i say that. bill 101 is a very bad way to go about doing it though.

anyway...

Carl Carl
News comment 15 | User comment 1159 | 10:05 - 11th, Nov 2008


There is a place for everyone in this province and like it or not it will have to be accepted at some point.

All this BS of french twice as large as english on signs screams desperation, fear and bigotry. Like aside from foreigners these days most are bilingual. Why can't we all just get along. Simple phrase but yeah why can't we. Instead it's comparing cock sizes.

Like fuck one of the parties goals is to seperate so we can be even more distinct. They are so hell bent on this that they have zero plans to finance such an endeavor and what were the last rumors from way back? They want Canada to help finance the seperation and then potentially switch to the US currency. Like wtf?! Mind you this is based on rumors from back in the day.

andrew andrew
News comment 16 | User comment 1315 | 10:14 - 11th, Nov 2008


Canadians are protected by the charter of rights and freedoms, which is entrenched in the Canadian constitution. Even if sharia courts were allowed in canada (which I don't think they should be), the charter of rights would override them. So none of this stoning, cutting off hands, etc business in Canada.

All this to say is that we have nothing to worry about, .. this immigrant declaration really says "We are an insecure society" rather than its original meaning of reminding immigrants to respect Canadian laws.

Alex Alex
News comment 17 | User comment 4902 | 10:17 - 11th, Nov 2008


but the same thing went for england and france. and as the us and even harper have shown, bills or constitutions can be changed when they want to.
this is something to worry about. have enough people here wanting sharia law and guess what'll happen.

Carl Carl
News comment 18 | User comment 1159 | 10:17 - 11th, Nov 2008


But still you have a large group wanting to isolate themselves from everyone so they are not "tainted"

Does that not strike anyone as just "Wow, aren't we past this kind of behaviour"

Carl Carl
News comment 19 | User comment 1159 | 10:19 - 11th, Nov 2008


I don't think we have to worry about adopting any other cultures laws. Even if there was a mass flood. It just won't happen. The day you start compromising your constitution and laws over everyones deserves is when your country really goes to hell.

andrew andrew
News comment 20 | User comment 1315 | 10:25 - 11th, Nov 2008


it is almost impossible to change the constitution of Canada. To pass an amendment, you need to have a national referendum asking every Canadian a question. Do you really think Canadians will go out and vote for Sharia laws? Canadians couldn't even get together to pass the Meech Lake accord to grant Quebec distinct status (which is another issue altogether)

In order for such a thing to happen, Canada would have to be home to at least 16 million *hardcore* muslims .. remember, not all muslims believe in the sharia court system.

Needless to say, bills can sometimes be modified, but national constitutions where people's rights are in question? Not so simple.

Alex Alex
News comment 21 | User comment 4902 | 10:27 - 11th, Nov 2008


as is england and france. europe will be in the shits if turkey gets into the EU union...

as for quebec separating, i've never agreed with it, and never even seen eye to eye with it. maybe 200 years down the line something will happen, but as it stands now i don't think we'll see anything happen in our lifetime.

Carl Carl
News comment 22 | User comment 1159 | 10:31 - 11th, Nov 2008


Nope. I don't think it will ever happen either in our lifetimes and god help whoever stays if it does happen

andrew andrew
News comment 23 | User comment 1315 | 10:33 - 11th, Nov 2008


Why would europe be in shit? Yes, Turkey is a muslim state, but it is very liberal and secular .. it is not governed by Sharia laws.

Alex Alex
News comment 24 | User comment 4902 | 10:48 - 11th, Nov 2008


you're right, but it's a way in for them. muslims are already pretty much taking over france and england and some other countries through families bringing in families but this would give them a completely legal way to get in. and then they would have to change the rules for the new "state" in the union. it may not be sharia but they do have different laws from western laws.

andrew andrew
News comment 25 | User comment 1315 | 10:54 - 11th, Nov 2008


I can't disagree with you there.. it seems the solution for all of this would be for western societies to encourage people to have kids rather than constantly relying on immigration to make up for our society's ever declining birth rate.

Alex Alex
News comment 26 | User comment 4902 | 10:58 - 11th, Nov 2008


true dat. china is taking over the world through legal immigration while islam is the fastest growing religion through breeding.

even the pop has said that islam is the biggest religion in the world right now, it passed Christianity i think last year.

andrew andrew
News comment 27 | User comment 1315 | 11:06 - 11th, Nov 2008


One thing we have to realize though is that the world is really small now, mostly due to advances in technology (internet, high speed travel, mass media).. borders do not really matter now and are constantly falling. whether we like it or not, the world is moving more and more towards globalization and the eventual blending of all cultures. (very long term)

there is a huge dichotomy in terms of people's behaviour with this issue. steps are being taken to protect local culture while people throughout the world want to be increasingly connected.

Alex Alex
News comment 28 | User comment 4902 | 11:08 - 11th, Nov 2008


i think the future world will end up being a muslim one, with a mix of 4chan in there. a truly unique and confused culture.

andrew andrew
News comment 29 | User comment 1315 | 11:17 - 11th, Nov 2008


awh dude, that'd be sick .. instead of ramadan, there would be a whole month of Caturday

Alex Alex
News comment 30 | User comment 4902 | 11:18 - 11th, Nov 2008


lol, catarmonth! jesus...

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