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Marc Miller expresses strong reservations about Quebec's immigration requests

Photo: Justin Tang The Canadian Press The “relationship” between Quebec and Ottawa “is not one-way.” “We also have expectations,” warns the federal Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller, in an interview with Le Devoir on Thursday.

Marco Bélair-Cirino and Sandrine Vieira in Ottawa

March 22, 2024

  • Canada

The federal Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller, is not convinced of the idea of ​​ceding powers over immigration to Quebec without obtaining anything in exchange from the Legault government.

The “relationship” between Quebec and Ottawa “is not a one-way street”. “We also have expectations,” he warns in an interview with Le Devoir Thursday.

On the other hand, it is not about to entrust the power to select temporary workers admitted to Quebec under the International Mobility Program, nor the power to set the French requirement in the selection criteria for all temporary workers or even immigrants admitted to Quebec under the family reunification program.

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The team of Quebec Prime Minister François Legault, however, said on Thursday at Devoir that they had observed an “openness” on the part of his federal counterpart, Justin Trudeau, on these two levels during their meeting in Montreal last week.

“It’s very difficult to legislate love, [and] ask someone to marry someone who only speaks French,” Mr. Miller argues when Le Devoirasks him if knowledge of the basic French language could be required of the spouse of a Canadian who seeks to obtain Canadian citizenship through the family reunification program.

“People will stay at home, in England or Brazil or Portugal, as long as they have not learned French. It’s a bit weird,” maintains the federal elected official, while repeating that “people learn the language out of love and not out of compulsion.”

According to Mr. Miller, people retained in the family reunification program “integrate” in the absence of rules. As proof, “the francization rates of the family [reunification] category are quite significant” in his eyes.

The minister says he has been challenged by “doctors” and “investors” who are integrated into Quebec — its French language, its culture — who “threaten to leave for Ontario” if they cannot bring their families.

Talking about “real business”

Despite all his reservations regarding Quebec's demands, Marc Miller said to his Quebec counterpart, Christine Fréchette: “We can talk about it. » “We may state the principle, but it has to work. So, let’s talk about real business,” he adds in a corridor of the West Block of Parliament.

“If people want a francization requirement, let us talk about the process to ensure that people will speak French, let us ensure that the resources are there. You know that we are already paying enormous sums under the Canada-Quebec agreement, without regard to the level that Quebec sets,” he specifies, a stone’s throw from the House of Commons.

The minister also does not show much enthusiasm at the idea of ​​handing over to the Quebec government the selection of temporary workers registered in the International Mobility Program.

“That would be up for discussion. I can’t talk more about it,” he replies, while noting that the representatives of the Legault government “have a lot of requests”.

No envelope without ventilation

While Quebec is still demanding a billion dollars to compensate for the expenses incurred in welcoming asylum seekers, Marc Miller is still waiting for “better” justifications from the Legault government.

“It’s going to take better ventilation than what has been done [so far],” he proclaims.

In Ottawa, a working group made up of civil servants was set up to draw its own conclusions based on the supporting documents provided by Quebec.

For 2021 and 2022, Quebec expected $470 million from the federal government to reimburse services provided to asylum seekers. For 2023, 576.9 million were added to the bill.

Minister Miller also does not hesitate to criticize Quebec's recent declaration that the massive arrival of asylum seekers now poses a risk for “Quebec identity”.

“The two threats to Quebec identity are the demographic curve that hangs over our heads and the education system. If people talk about anything other than that, I think they’re missing the point,” he says.

A motion with serious consequences

After the adoption of a controversial motion on Palestine in the House of Commons, Minister Miller now fears the consequences it could have for the family members of Canadians who are in Gaza and who are seeking asylum under its family reunification program.

The motion called on Canada, among other things, to “cease the approval and transfer of further arms exports to Israel.”

Minister Miller supported the motion, as did the rest of the Liberal caucus, with the exception of three MPs. Even though he says he believes in the motion, he still thinks that Israel could now crack down on the families of Canadian citizens.

On Tuesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz declared on his social networks that the motion “undermines Israel's right to self-defense” and that history “will judge harshly the current action by Canada”.

Minister Miller claims to be holding diplomatic discussions with Israel, but refused to provide further details.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116