A day after the third and final leaders debate, Quebec Solidaire has unveiled their immigration platform. Up until now, the party has said it was not going to talk about the issue at all.
On Friday, during an announcement in the riding of Laurier-Dorion, the party said that if elected, it would invest over $200 million dollars in French language training for immigrants.
On September 8, co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois tweeted in French that he did not want to “feed the immigration debate” and hoped parties and media would start talking about more “pressing issues.”
Now, 30 days into the campaign, Quebec Solidaire is wading into the thorny issue.
“What we said is that at Quebec Solidaire, we will never do politics on the backs of immigrants and minorities.”
“We will not try to divide Quebecers to win votes,” Nadeau-Dubois explained at his press conference. “But it also can be a positive topic if we talk about immigration as a force. If we talk about diversity as something great for Quebec. If we talk about the challenges we still have to make sure our public services represent diversity.”
He also attacked Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government, saying it diverted $1 billion of federal funds intended for integration into other areas.
“Why is Mr. Couillard pretending to be the first ally of visible minorities in Quebec while he’s been in power 15 years and has done nothing?” Nadeau-Dubois asked.
He said his announcement does not contradict comments made by his co-spokesperson, Manon Massé, on Thursday night after the last leaders’ debate, who explained why she has not wanted to address immigration throughout the campaign.
“What I’ve noticed concerning immigration is that often it’s used to fan fear. Unfortunately, it is and that hurts a lot of people,” she said.
During that debate, Massé accused CAQ leader Francois Legault of using immigration to win votes. This happened after Legault offered what he later referred to as his “mea culpa” for confusing statements he made about his plan to submit immigrants to a values test and French language test.
“I would say that I believe you when you say you have nothing against immigrants. I know you. I’ve been around you enough to affirm that. That being said… I wonder if in fact, you listened to your advisers because in the end there was a time that it was going to win you votes,” she said.
However, Quebec Solidaire could also benefit from the issue of immigration. Chilean immigrant and candidate in Laurier-Dorion, Andrés Fontecilla shared the podium at Friday’s announcement with Nadeau-Dubois. In the last election, he came in second place, behind now-ousted Liberal candidate Gerry Sklavounos.