Canada’s Election: Francophone Quebec Tail Still Wags Majority Anglophone Dog
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On Monday September 20, Canadians will be voting in a federal election. For Canadian patriots worried about immigration, the election is appalling because the three main parties, the Liberals, Conservatives and social democratic New Democrats, all support the policies that are making whites a minority in the country their ancestors built.

That said, the campaign is interesting for what it reveals about the extent to which the minority Francophone Quebec tail wags the majority Anglophone Canadian dog. Federal politicians are careful not to ruffle feathers in the French-speaking province, where separatism is always a threat.

During the only English-language leaders’ debate (two other debates were held in French, which already tells you something) the moderator, Shachi Kurl, herself the child of Indian immigrants, asked Yves Blanchet, the leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which only runs candidates in Quebec, about two pieces of provincial legislation that bother some people in other provinces. She said:

You denied that Quebec has problems with racism, yet you defend legislation such as Bills 96 and 21 which marginalize religious minorities, anglophones and allophones. Quebec is recognized as a distinct society but for those outside the province, please help them understand why your party also supports these discriminatory laws

(“Allophones” is CanSpeak for those whose first language is neither English nor French, in other words, immigrants.)

To which Blanchet replied:

The question seems to imply the answer you want…Those laws are not about discrimination. They are about the values of Quebec.

[Trudeau, O'Toole call debate question on Quebec's secularism offensive, unfair,  by Catharine Tunney, CBC News, September 10, 2021]

Bill 96, which isn’t law yet, would strengthen the requirement to use French in Quebec, while Bill 21 bans many government employees from wearing religious symbols such as headscarves and kippas at work. (Thanks to immigration, Quebec now has a significant Muslim population.) A Quebec Superior Court judge agreed Bill 21 “violates the basic rights of religious minorities,” but upheld most of the law anyway because in passing it, the provincial government invoked the so-called “Notwithstanding” clause of the Canadian constitution.

Kurl’s question angered many Quebecois, so much so that the provincial legislature passed a unanimous resolution condemning “Quebec bashing” while a second resolution asked for the debate organizers to formally apologize. The organizers, however, defended Kurl’s question.

But the federal party leaders, Justin Trudeau, Liberal; Erin O’Toole, Conservative and Jagmeet Singh, NDP have all weighed in on the side of Quebec.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reports:

All three major party leaders are calling for an apology from the consortium of media broadcasters involved in the federal leaders’ debates over a question about Quebec laws during the recent English-language debate…

“The premise of the question was wrong and quite frankly insulting to Quebeckers. We know there is lots of work to do across the country to fight against systemic discrimination, to stand up against intolerance,” Mr. Trudeau said during a campaign event in Halifax. “But Quebeckers are not racist. And yes, I think the consortium should be explaining itself and excusing itself and … making an apology.”

Mr. O’Toole, whose party has been making a play for Quebec votes over the past weeks, said he will defend the interests of Quebeckers.

“We’re tired of Quebec-bashing and singling out Quebec, and I think the consortium should recognize that and apologize,” he said at a campaign stop in Jonquière, Que.

[Trudeau, O’Toole, Singh call for apology over Bill 21 English debate question,  September 15, 2021]

The NDP leader Jagmeet Singh agrees—although Singh is a Sikh who wears a turban and thus would be denied some Quebec government jobs under Bill 21.

The Globe & Mail went on:

Mr. Singh – the first racialized [sic, a Canadian term meaning non-white minority] leader of a major federal political party – later echoed the calls. “It’s a mistake to imply that only one province has a problem with systemic racism when it’s a problem everywhere in Canada,” he said in an e-mail statement on Wednesday. “Implying that it’s only in one province hurts the work being done to fight systemic racism.”

It’s not hard to miss the cynicism behind these calls for an apology. It’s a tight election [Election Polls 2021: Liberals and Conservatives are effectively tied, by Shelby Thevenot, CIC News, September 17, 2021]. Quebec has a lot of seats. And who can pass up an opportunity to virtue-signal about “systemic racism”?



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