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Canada Kirpan Fearing PQ Finds Another Excuse To Distrust Immigrants


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Not long ago, Parti Québécois politician Louise Beaudoin was public enemy No. 1 in English Quebec. During her 1990s tenure as minister responsible for enforcing the provincial language law, Bill 101, Gazette caricaturist Aislin took to portraying Ms. Beaudoin as a leather-clad dominatrix.

Ms. Beaudoin is still in politics, but lately it is religious minorities more than anglophones who have been feeling the crack of her whip. As the PQ’s “secularism critic” she piloted last week’s motion to bar kirpan-wearing Sikhs from entering the provincial legislature. The motion, which passed unanimously, was dressed up as a security initiative but the pretext was laughable. As The Gazette’s Don Macpherson has pointed out, the PQ likened the danger represented by the Sikh ceremonial dagger to a submachine-gun but overlooked the sharp steel cutlery that is readily available to all in the National Assembly restaurant.

The PQ’s kirpan initiative was politics of the basest kind, and a poll published Monday in La Presse offers insight into the PQ’s game. The Angus Reid survey was in reaction to Conservative MP Maxime Bernier’s call for an end to Bill 101. It found strong support for Bill 101 within Quebec, as well as a sentiment that the state of the French language in the province had deteriorated over the past decade.

(The Internet poll also contained an only-in-Quebec question attempting to gauge just how small English lettering on commercial signs needs to be to ensure French predominates. People were shown representative signs with progressively smaller English type and asked to choose which was best. The most popular option was to shrink the English by 25%, but one-fifth of respondents opted for a 60% shrinkage that left the English about as visible as the bottom line of an eye chart.)

The poll’s most surprising finding was the response given when the 800 respondents were asked who to blame for the decline of French. They judged the greatest threat to French to come not from English Canada, not from the United States but from “multiculturalism in Quebec.” In other words, immigrants. Multiculturalism was judged a threat by 60% of respondents, and the figure rose to 66% among francophones.

La Presse interviewed a professor named Annick Germain, who was surprised that “the fear of the immigrant” was relatively constant among the various age groups surveyed. Playing on those fears has worked in Quebec politics before; Mario Dumont’s ADQ came close to stealing the 2007 general election with a campaign that dwelled on the erosion of Quebec values. Ms. Beaudoin and the PQ are betting that identity politics will work again. And the governing Liberals are so nervous that they ventured not a word in defence of minority rights during last week’s kirpan debate.

National Post

Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com...-reason-to-distrust-immigrants/#ixzz1E4feYpqn



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