On Thursday, Premier François Legault met with two other leaders: the federal Opposition leader, Andrew Scheer, and the mayor of Quebec City.
Legault got support for some of his ideas but when it comes to immigration, the new premier still has some convincing to do.
Before the morning meeting with Scheer, Legault told reporters the two men were going to talk about the economy, religious symbols and immigration.
Coming out of that meeting, the federal Conservative Party leader beat around the bush, but it was clear he didn’t support the premier’s plan for immigration nor a values test.
“I believe it’s important for the federal government under our jurisdiction to make sure the services are there to promote integration,” Scheer said.
On religious symbols, Scheer took a harder line: “I respect provincial jurisdictions. Our party supports freedom of expressions, fundamental freedoms.”
“It’s not something we’re going to embark on federally,” he said.
Legault has promised to lower the number of immigrants by 10,000 a year. At the same time, the federal government plans to take in 40,000 more by 2021. On this issue, Scheer seems to be more aligned with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau than the new Quebec government.
“We have to find out exactly what we need as a society to fill vacant jobs, to make sure that we’re having population growth and once we figure out what those needs are, then we arrive at a number, not the other way around,” Scheer said.
Thursday afternoon, Legault held a similar meeting with Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume. During the election campaign, Mayor Labeaume was very vocal in his opposition to Legault’s plan to decrease immigration levels, saying this would aggravate the labour shortage in the capital.
However, on Thursday, Labeaume said he could get behind the plan after assurances from the premier.
“What is important is that we answer the needs of Quebec’s companies. And what I told Régis Labeaume today is that I’m convinced we’ll be able to do that,” Legault said.
He explained that Quebec will select more immigrants based on employment needs in the regions.
“So the target is: we have to provide our companies with human resources… if it’s the plan, we’re in,” Labeaume said.