Categories: Politics

Does the Conservative party have a future in Quebec? What about the immigration debate? An interview with Benjamin Tremblay PART 2

Benjamin Tremblay–a content-creator and writer–is a native of Quebec and an expert on the politics and history of the province. His latest work, CAQ=PLQ, outlines the origins of the front-running Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) and its structural similarities with the Parti Libéral du Québec (PLQ).

He has been featured in several prominent Quebec media outlets, including CHOI Radio X, and Nathalie Le Midi.

Tremblay also operates the alternative-media site 7 Jours sur Terre, where he and a team of journalists explore contemporary issues, interview politicians and important figures, and explore the history of Quebec.

I spoke with Tremblay  in order to learn more about his book and discuss the current electoral landscape of Quebec politics. We also spoke about his perspective on the future of federal politics and the Conservative Party’s relation with Quebec.

For part 1 of our interview, we discussed his book on the CAQ and the Liberal party, as well as political corruption and party differences within the province

For part 2, we focused on federal politics and the debate on immigration.

What do you think is going to be the future of Quebec’s internal politics and do you think the Conservatives will have success in the next election with the collapse of the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP in the province?

I think the Conservatives could do very well in quebec, I do not think they’ll take power because of Maxime Bernier. I think Maxime Bernier split the vote; he’ll be very, very hurtful for the Conservatives. If he just takes just 10% of their share, not even of the national vote, but just of the conservative share, that would be enough to put them way out of their chance to access power.

So, I think the Conservatives are going to do very well in quebec, but it’s not going to be enough. Bernier is going to do well in Quebec, he’s going to do well in the West, and he’s going to do well with hard-liners/conservatives, and they need them as well.

Even apart from the electoral damage that I think Bernier is going make, I think the rhetorical damage–just by his attacks and his arguments–will be significant.

He’s going to aim at whom? Yes, Trudeau, but he’s going to slug at Andrew Scheer as well. That’s going to be very hurtful for Scheer, that’s going to be all in public, and it’s going to a real shouting match.

I think the Conservatives are going to do well because of their promises for Quebec autonomy, they have the same platform as the NDP on that. Both are saying we should decentralize the Canadian state, we should give more powers to the provinces. They are both promising complete responsibility over immigration, over language, and over culture.

They said they would be open to offering one declaration of revenue only to Quebec. They are really putting out a big grocery list of promises for Quebecers. I think that could really resonate with a lot of people when they’re going to hear that.

Right now, they’re not hearing it. Nobody is listening to federal politics right now. As the election gets closer, I think those arguments are going to resonate.

I don’t think the NDP is going to do well in Quebec, I think they need Quebec to do what they did with Jack Layton.

What’s going to happen federally? I think we’re going to keep Trudeau, probably another 4 years, and probably with a majority. That’s what I think is going to happen, and I think Quebec is going to go towards the Conservatives.

I want to address the question of immigration: what do you think of the various provincial parties’ policies with respect to the debate on immigration, and why do you think the media and the political class have had such a vivid response?

As for the media response, it’s been like that for a very long time. It’s a bit of a representation of the political reaction as well.

If you look at the Quebec Liberal party, it’s basically the same reaction. They’ve said that it’s going to be the ballot question, and it’s going be the thing that people vote on.

My position on that is not one where I even take a position. It’s one where I deplore the very poor state of the public debate on that. Just look at the numbers. I don’t even want to argue if they’re good or bad.

Just look objectively at the numbers, we are 8 million people in quebec, we take 50,000 new immigrants every year. I talked about that on Radio X. If you do the ratio: it’s one (new immigrant) per 160 (Quebec residents). If you look at the United States, it’s one for 330. So basically we’re evaluating our integration capacity as twice as good as the one of the United States.

What I deplore is that we can’t even talk about it. As soon as we put out the numbers, were targeted and called xenophobic.

We can argue it’s true: we can argue that the United States is not taking enough immigrants. We can also say that this is one piece of data that should not be ignored.

For about 10 years, it’s always been more, without even questioning the economic sense of it, the social cohesion sense of it, we’ve never even questioned the idea.

Why? Because it’s been so monopolized by the political correctness of the media and everybody that tries to have this debate is basically ostracized and put into the margins as somebody who shouldn’t be listened to because he is not pro-immigration. The thing is, it’s not important whether we’re for or against it: we have to be able to debate it.

For example, we’re having a big employment crisis, we don’t have enough workers. So everybody goes and says, including the chambers of commerce, that we need to bring in more immigrants. We can go with that argument, and say, yeah sure, Montreal is going to benefit from that.

Just look at Quebec city, Mayor Labeaume said a week ago that there’s 70,000 open positions that need somebody right now in Quebec city, and we’re taking 50,000 every year.

Make a quick calculus, Quebec city takes 5% of the 50,000 immigration. Of the 50,000, 5% is going to Quebec and 75% is going to montreal.

So when we’re having this debate about, delocalization of the regions, and we don’t have enough workers in Estrie, Beauce,and the Laurentides, it’s a false debate, it’s a complete lie to say that we can address the situation by raising the cap by five or ten thousand.

It’s completely ridiculous. Because if you just look at the numbers, we have to bring 200,000 or 300,000 people just to fill in the gaps, everywhere else which is not Montreal.

Then the debate changes to: do we want to bring the immigrants to the regions? And sure, let’s do that. But then how do we do that?

As long as we can’t guarantee the same quality of life for immigrants as we can for Quebec residents, then we’re in the wrong, and we’re doing it wrong not only for us but for them.

Just last week we saw that the refugees that Couillard was helping and paying for rent in Roberval (Lac St. Jean region, Couillard’s riding), they left. Why? to go to Montreal. And they had rent paid and everything in Roberval. And they left because they wanted to be with the community in Montreal. That’s just human, that’s just natural. You want to be with the community that you share.

We can’t expect our immigration problem, and our business problem, and our workforce problem, to be solved by immigration. It doesn’t make any sense. We have to look at it in a different way.

What I deplore is that we can’t even talk about it. As soon as we put out the numbers, were targeted and called xenophobic. It doesn’t have anything to do with that.

Even the CAQ, for example, if you look at the rationale behind the CAQ’s discourse on that, what they say is not that we want less immigrants. What they say is that 20% of that number is going out of Quebec, of the province itself, after say 3 or 5 years, 20% is going out. So that’s 10,000. So those 10,000, we’re losing them. So we should maybe just put it down to 40,000, and keep those same resources, and focus them on the remaining 40,000.

The argument itself is not xenophobic. It’s an attempt at integration. It’s saying that we’re not satisfied of the state of the integration in Quebec’s society. Even that, it’s not even a debate: just look at the unemployment numbers, and the french-speaking numbers after 5-10 years, the same thing for the social integration markers. Everything is in the red when we compare immigrants to native Quebecers.

That’s the problem. If we can’t even debate that, we are not serving them. The rhetoric of always more and more, that has to stop. We have to focus on something else, and that’s integration.

We have to be very clear-headed, we have to look at this subject with no emotions at all. It’s not an emotional topic, it always is in the media, the way it’s painted it’s always emotional.

It’s a question of numbers, it’s human life. But numbers tell us about those lives, and they tell us about the quality of those lives.

As long as we can’t guarantee the same quality of life for immigrants as we can for Quebec residents, then we’re in the wrong, and we’re doing it wrong not only for us but for them.

Josh Nahmias

Comments

  • Are you reading that, CBC? Not you or any other lefty media is about to pull the wool over the eyes of Quebecers or guilt them into blindly accepting Trudeau's population replacement. Camel shoe fitting is not a skill in demand and even if it were, you can't address an immediate labour shortage with massive amounts of people who don't speak the language.

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Josh Nahmias
Tags: Benjamin TremblayCanada PoliticsCAQ. PLQConservative PartyConservativescouillardImmigrationLegaultLiberal PartyMaximer BernierQuebec politics

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