The Quebec government is moving forward with its contentious plan to impose a values test on future newcomers.
The announcement was made in the province’s Official Gazette of Quebec, a government publication released on Wednesday.
“I think it’s important when you settle in a new society to understand its values,” Premier François Legault told a crowd of reporters.
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As part of the plan, new immigrants to Quebec will have to pass a values test starting Jan. 1, 2020.
Immigrants will be expected to obtain “an attestation of learning about democratic values and the Quebec values expressed by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.”
Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette explained the test will include 20 questions from several hundred composed by the province. Each test will be different, he added.
“It will never be the same evaluation,” he said.
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Jolin-Barrette gave examples of sample questions including the following: Since the government passed Bill 21, every new police officer cannot wear a religious symbol while at work, true or false?
A passing grade for the exam is 75 per cent in order to obtain a Quebec Selection Certificate, which falls under the province’s jurisdiction. Immigrants are able to apply for permanent residency under the federal government once they have that certificate.
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In the case of failure, an applicant can take the test again after two weeks. If they fail twice, they will have to take a class.
The values test for newcomers was a pledge made by the Coalition Avenir Québec during the provincial election campaign in 2018. It also promised a mandatory French proficiency exam for immigrants to pass within three years of their arrival.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau affirmed Quebec’s right to impose a “test” for newcomers during the federal election campaign, but did not specifically refer to the “values” component. However, when he was later asked what he would consider an inappropriate question on such a test, Trudeau said he wouldn’t “get into hypotheticals.”
Legault, for his part, defended the test on Wednesday. He likened it to Canada’s citizenship test and interview that is required for all immigrants who wish to permanently stay in the country.
“It’s not very different from the test that already exists,” said Legault.
Legault said it’s important for anyone wishing to live in the province to understand and respect gender equality and secularism. In Quebec, public-sector employees in positions of authority — such as teachers, judges and police officers — are not allowed to wear religious symbols at work under the CAQ’s Bill 21.
“Do we want people to come live in Quebec who don’t know women are equal to men?” said Legault.
Jolin-Barrette has also unveiled the province’s plan for immigration in 2020 following public consultations. The government intends to welcome between 43,000 and 45,000 immigrants next year.
The CAQ had campaigned on decreasing immigration levels to 40,000 newcomers a year, but Jolin-Barrette admitted in July it was looking at increasing those levels.
— With files from Global News’ Brian Hill