The Worm in the Canadian Apple
The Trudeau government had exercised restraint during the election campaign. He did not wait to give François Legault the currency of his play.
The message is clear. The CAQ may have obtained its “strong mandate” to ensure the survival of the Quebec nation, but Ottawa has no interest in transferring more immigration powers to Quebec.
François Legault must now decide what he wants. Does he prefer « toe-tapping nationalism » or real progress in immigration? There is the question.
The answer will be decisive not only for the second term of the CAQ, but also for Canadian unity.
Symbol or results?
It is tempting to make fun of the Quebec lieutenant, Pablo Rodriguez, for having affirmed in an interview with Mario Dumont that family reunification is a matter of love rather than French in response to Quebec’s demands.
And yet, it takes willful blindness not to understand that the federal government has absolutely no interest in ceding this field of selection of immigrants to Quebec. It’s the only real lever he has left, he’s not about to give it up.
Moreover, if for 20 years, Quebec has failed to adequately francize immigrants, it still cannot blame the federal government.
Which brings us back to the existential question. What does Francois Legault want?
If Quebec wants immigration to be more effective and more in tune with the imperative of curbing the decline of French, many fields of action could be negotiated. We need only think of the student visas granted in preference to Anglophones, the hallucinating delays for temporary foreign workers, and so on.
But if the objective of the operation is to obtain exclusivity on immigration to Quebec, everyone has understood that the maneuver seems doomed to failure.
François Legault will reap what he sowed: distrust.
Despite everything, the temptation of confrontation will be great. It has already paid off and François Legault will no longer be alone on the ice of “all or nothing”.
The Alberta Conservatives have just elected the ultimate champion of autonomy at the head of their party.
New Premier Danielle Smith has pledged to pass an Alberta sovereignty act that would allow the province to opt out of any federal laws or regulations deemed contrary to its interests.
We will come back to the legality of the maneuver. From a political point of view, all the ingredients are there for a possible constitutional crisis.
Because whether or not we agree with Alberta’s complaints, they are real. Just like those of a very large number of Quebec voters.
Beyond rejoicing in standing up to François Legault, Justin Trudeau will one day have to worry about this increasingly fragile Canadian unity.
The days of the pandemic when he could write checks for billions to buy peace are well and truly over.