It seems like forever ago; another lifetime.

Before the world seemed to tumble upside down, when at least there was a more of a sense of common decency and shared values.  This is what former President Barack Obama said in his farewell address

“Democracy can buckle when it gives into fear.   So just as we as citizens must remain vigilant against external agression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that made us who we are”

And these are Canadian values as well.

He was right of course.   And the world is seeing signs of fear winning and democracy buckling.   Right wing movements are again making inroads in European countries.   And with no global leadership coming from America, the politics of division is gaining a foothold.

The CAQ Vision

When I learned details of the CAQ immigration policy this week, it sent a chill through my body.

First reported by L’Actualité, the CAQ proposes expelling newcomers who lets face it, “don’t fit in”.

It wants the federal government to expel immigrants who do not learn French quickly enough or cannot pass a Quebec values test be ordered to leave.  This is what Quebec Immigration Minister David Heurtel had to say

“Fundamentally what Mr Legault is saying is you must fear immigrants.  That is scary.  On the contrary, Quebec and Canada were built on immigration.”

The CAQ also is proposing Quebec reduce the number of immigrants it accepts from 50 thousand to 40 thousand a year.

Although, journalist Michel C Auger points out in his new book on debunking Quebec myths, that if you calculate the number of immigrants who arrive and those who leave, the number can be as low as 27 thousand per year.

There is no crisis of the system not being able to handle legal immigration.

The CAQ policy is strictly about politics and fear of difference.

It is a political wedge issue.   Dog whistle politics designed to attract a core vote.

A Checkered Past

Our history is checkered with treating others with disdain and hatred.    The Acadian Explusion, Japanese internment camps, residential schools, anti-semitism, and the list goes on.   When I hear of politicians talk of expelling those who don’t quite fit in with their vision of Quebec, it makes me sad.   It makes me angry.   And wistful for voices of reason and common sense at home and not so far away.  Again, Barack Obama echoed what many of us feel and think.

“To be an American is be something more that what we look like and what our last names are or how we worship.   What makes us American is a shared commitment to an ideal, that all of us are created equal.”

I had hoped that this coming election campaign in Quebec could be an opportunity to talk about important tissues such as health care and education and the future our children will face.

Sadly now, I worry that once again we will descend into the abyss of identity politics.

It’s a Go !

But the good news this week is that we did receive confirmation that an historic English television  debate will be held on September 17th.   My congratulations to the media consortium who pushed for it and to the political leaders who agreed on its importance.

Indeed good news that our concerns will be aired out.  And that our community will be given some recognition of legitimacy despite the baying of some of so called opinion leaders who claim its just another step to the Anglicization of Quebec.

You see at the end of the day, it is about respect.  Something that sometimes seems to be in short supply these days here there  and everywhere.  Just ask the 44th President of the United States.