Xenophobia and the Québec bailiwick

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The dictionary defines xenophobia as intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries. Synonyms include racism, ethnocentrism, intolerance and bigotry. It’s often associated with ‘siege mentality’: a defensive or paranoid attitude based on the belief that others are hostile toward one (according to the dictionary).

The dictionary defines xenophobia as intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries. Synonyms include racism, ethnocentrism, intolerance and bigotry. It’s often associated with ‘siege mentality’: a defensive or paranoid attitude based on the belief that others are hostile toward one (according to the dictionary). In our multicultural, pluralistic society, xenophobia is deemed a curse and threat to civilization, but yet, the Québec government’s recent actions can only be described as xenophobic.
In Canada, immigration is a joint federal – provincial matter. Although all provinces have some arrangement with the federal government, Québec is the only province to have its own Department of Immigration. Since coming to power in Québec, the CAQ and premier François Legault have placed restrictions and limitations on immigration to Québec: reduced the total number of immigrants allowed each year, and increased requirements for foreign students and agricultural workers, higher financial security, and support for “Québec values.” Most recently, the premier indicated that requiring immigrants to earn at least $56,000 per year was reasonable.
But the financial standing of potential immigrants is not the only xenophobic issue Legault and the CAQ have endorsed. Bill 21 – the Laicity Act forbids teachers, police officers and government officials from displaying religious symbols. (Note that laicity is not secularism.) The Québec government recognizes the bill is a direct negation of constitutional rights, so it has invoked the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian constitution despite the fact that Québec is the only province that did not formally recognize the Constitution Act, 1982.
However, this is not enough. The CAQ is proposing modification to Bill 101, Québec’s Charter of the French Language that would include limiting student enrollment in English CEGEPs and further reduce English language rights and usage in Québec.
The CAQ claims these actions are necessary to protect the French language, especially in Montréal. But modern communication technology and international travel facilitate a more open society where multiple languages and cultures mingle to create a new, broad society. Closing Québec to these international trends means reducing Québec to the status of a bailiwick instead of a place where the French language is a prominent component of a truly international community.
Immigration is essential to Canada’s and Quebec’s economic growth. One statistic that shows this is the worker to retiree ratio. In 1971 it was 7 to 1, by 2035, this ratio is expected to be 2 to 1 – there will not be enough workers to support retirees! Another related statistic: Québec’s fertility rate is 1.69 per woman, far below the replacement rate of 2.1.
Québec must realize that immigration is essential to its position as a socially and economically secure place to live. If Québec is to be an active, significant part of Canada and the world, it must recognize the importance of multiculturalism, diversity, and respect for all humans. But its current direction is the exact
opposite of this.