This is intolerable, to be termed "intolerant", quite unfair. What it might conceivably be, is a mystery inside a conundrum, but intolerant? Hardly. Throw in a little xenophobia, sprinkle with a dash of peppery unwillingness to 'accommodate', varnish with a veneer of civility and you have the answer: prevaricating inability to admit intolerance. Oops! There's that unfortunate word again.
The one overriding trump card that any would-be immigrant to the Province of Quebec could flash that would be guaranteed to gain them landed-immigrant status in that province within Canada would be to firmly establish facility with the French language. Entre! Mesdames, Messieurs...! No speakin' no French? Forget it, move right along now.
However, entry to other provinces within the confederation we lovingly call Canada is possible. So if a refugee or an emigrant from another country is accepted as a landed immigrant they can locate to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, British Columbia or Ontario. Or the two Territories or Nunavut.
But if they've got family members established in the province of Quebec it's understandable that, once having gained entry to Canada, they might wish to gravitate to that province. Which they do, in droves. Little do they know what awaits them. For the newly-installed leader of the Parti Quebecois, Pauline Marois, has tabled a new "identity package" proposal, Bill 195. Meant to delineate for prospective immigrants some of the entry requirements to the province.
One of which is that newly-arrived immigrants would be required to have an "appropriate" working knowledge of French to become Quebec citizens. This kind of "appropriate" working knowledge of French is a stringent one. Most recently, in the City of Gatineau (Aylmer, Quebec), an skilled immigrant-class dentist had his license to practise in the province revoked because he was unable to pass the province's language test.
His ability to converse in French is more than adequate; he has no problems reading French. His downfall was an identified inability to adequately - or to use the PQ's quaint phraseology - "appropriate" capability to write comprehensively in French. Little good it did him when he pointed out that his office staff is well acquainted with French writing style and it is they who communicate in writing with patients and others associated with his profession.
This skilled practitioner who has built a practise serving the health needs of some two thousand patients in the province on a temporary license has other language skills. He speaks fluent Persian (Farsi), English and Spanish. This is a health professional capable of and willing to serve the province which is experiencing a distinct and some would even say desperate dearth of health professionals.
Quebec has an obvious need for immigrants to augment its low birth rate among Quebecois, and provide the wherewithal for a stable workforce linked to the economic advancement of the province. Yes, Quebec desires the presence of hard-working and skilled immigrants and she is quick to acknowledgement their contribution. But, BUT, Ms. Marois contends, French proficiency is a primary requirement.
Additionally, the failure to become adept at using the French language will ensure that any such individuals would be barred from public office at any level, or even petitioning the National Assembly for redress of a grievance. All of which sounds suspiciously like an (il)legal challenge to the Canadian Constitution, for these provisions run counter to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms whose protection all Canadians enjoy.
Whoops, what's this? Pauline Marois is intolerant of the intolerance of reporters who try to bait her into speaking English? What's that you say, her English is fractured and unintelligible? G'wan with ya! This woman has lived in Canada all of her life and she is not able to convey her thoughts and statements in "adequate" English?
Ms. Marois has had second thoughts about switching to English to be understood on English-language television and radio - as is the custom - fearing the fall-out of a garbled message failing to convey the true meaning of her intentions? "I do it and I want to do it well but you know very well that I have been criticized a lot on this despite the efforts I make to speak English.
"I know my English is not perfect. I work every day at improving it. I will continue to do so, so please be patient with me because I have had it up to here with this question." Oh dear.
Labels: Inconvenient Politics, Life's Like That, Society