Monday, October 22, 2007

Quebec Identity Act or our plan to mess with people even more in Quebec

I don't understand people who are shocked by the offensive nature of the proposed "Quebec Identity Act" of the Parti Québécois (PQ).

Are you really and truly surprised?

This is, upon reflection, the political party that censored non-French words on store signs and violated international treaties by barring kids from certain public schools based on their lineage.

Is limiting one's ability to run for public office (proposed law) really worse that limiting freedom of expression or freedom of education (current laws)? Why the shock and surprise?

For those that missed it, last week the new PQ leader Pauline Marois tabled Bill 195 titled the "Quebec Identity Act" in the Quebec legislature to create something called "Quebec citizenship," which is awesome because it will let you to do stuff like run for elected office and petition the government.

(It's amazing we were ever able to function as a free and democratic society before. Petition the government... yes, why didn't we think of that before!)

There is even a new oath to make. I swear, I don't know anyone who doesn't love a good oath. The prospective "Quebec citizens" would have to swear to be loyal to the "people of Quebec" and observe its constitution (which hasn't yet been written, but trust us, it will be awesome! It won't be crazy, or anything, like all the laws banning stuff and barring people from schools or public office. It will definitely be the kind of thing you'd want to observe, like daylight savings time or proper dental hygiene.)

There is just one catch: if you are an immigrant to Canada, you won't get to be a "Quebec citizen" unless you have a "working knowledge" of French. So, if some highly-qualified Quebec government bureaucrat doesn't judge your French adequate, you can't run for public office, be it mayor, school trustee or member of the Quebec legislature.

This is happening in October 2007, in the context of the roaming public hearings on whether it is reasonable to accommodate some people by censoring language or limiting school... no, wait, that is not the accommodation they are discussing.

Instead, people from across Quebec are now asking the "Reasonable Accommodation" commissioners why there is a Jewish General Hospital or why girls at karate tournaments should be allowed to cover their heads.

So hoping to prove to their base that they'll pass crazier laws than their parliamentary opponents, the PQ tabled the "Quebec Identity Act."

Welcome to Quebec.

Deny Quebec citizenship to new immigrants who don't learn French: PQ
The Gazette
Friday, October 19, 2007

QUEBEC - Newly arrived immigrants will be required to have an "appropriate" working knowledge of French to be sworn in as Quebec citizens - even if the province is still part of Canada - if legislation proposed yesterday by the Parti Québécois is adopted.

Failing to learn French would bar an immigrant from holding public office at any level, raising funds for political parties, or petitioning1 the National Assembly for redress of a grievance.

The new rules would not apply to people already living in Quebec because they have acquired rights, the PQ says. But new arrivals - 40 per cent of immigrants to Quebec do not speak French - would be encouraged and assisted to acquire the language, which the new bill dresses up as a new "right" for citizens.

"It's like a Bill 101, but in the perspective of the identity of Quebecers," PQ leader Pauline Marois said at a news conference explaining the party's proposal, contained in Bill 195, titled the "Quebec Identity Act."

Marois tabled the bill in the National Assembly yesterday, beating the Liberals and the Action démocratique du Québec to the punch in the struggle to control the political-identity issue.

The PQ's bill is unlikely to become law, because it is doubtful the Liberals or the ADQ will support it. But Marois said that under legislature rules, it at least must be discussed, and that will put the PQ in the thick of a debate raging in the province.

The bill recognizes that since Quebec is not a sovereign country, however, it does not have all powers over citizenship. In fact, Article 49.2 of the bill states a person cannot earn the title of "Quebec citizen" if he or she is not also a "Canadian citizen."

New citizens would also be required to pledge - under oath - that they will be loyal to the people of Quebec and observe its constitution, which the PQ proposes the province draft - even before separation.

Marois said the proposal is no worse than any country's citizenship requirements, including Canada's, though the bill describes a three-year moral contract between immigrants and the state to learn French: They have to learn it; the state has to pay for it.

Under the PQ's bill, Marois conceded, a unilingual anglophone immigrant would not be allowed to run in an election to become mayor of Westmount. The person would need French to do the job properly anyway, she said.

Slipped into news conference was a proposal for a new crackdown on the use of English in the workplace. If elected, a PQ government would impose stiff fines on large firms that fail to acquire francization certificates proving they operate in French.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2007

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