MAXIME BERNIER KEEPS HEADACHES COMING FOR ANDREW SCHEER
One week before the first Conservative national convention on Andrew Scheer’s leadership watch — and the last such gathering before the next federal election — one would not normally expect Conservative MPS to be debating each other on social media about whether to draw a line on Canada’s diversity.
Against the backdrop of a simmering trade war with the U.S., a high-profile diplomatic contretemps over human rights with Saudi Arabia and a federal-provincial collision in the making over the country’s approach to climate change and carbon-pricing, identity and integration-related issues
have been closer to the bottom of the list of ongoing concerns this summer.
That is true even in Quebec, the province that has long been the ground zero of an often-acrimonious political discussion over the balance between the accommodation of cultural minorities and the preservation of a common
Against all odds, as Quebec gears up for an election campaign, the secularism issue that has so often dominated the provincial conversation over the past decade appears, at least for now, to be dormant.
The controversial provincial prescription that one can only
receive or dispense provincial and municipal services with one’s face uncovered remains suspended as the result of consecutive injunctions that will likely be maintained until the courts pronounce on the substance of the law long after the Oct. 1 election.
At the same time, there has been a noticeable shift in the debate over immigration. Concern over Quebec’s capacity to integrate newcomers in the francophone mainstream is increasingly giving way to a search for optimal ways to address the labour shortages that are resulting from the greying of the province’s population.
That may go some way to explain why this summer’s wave of asylum-seekers using irregular crossing points in Quebec to leave the U.S. for Canada has not caused the kind of stir it did last year. The number of border-crossers is also down by about half compared to last summer.
It is in this relative political quiet that Beauce MP Maxime Bernier fired off a series of tweets last weekend, criticizing what he called Justin Trudeau’s “extreme multiculturalism.” It is Bernier’s contention that more diversity will, in his own words, “destroy what has made Canada such a great country.”
MP Maxime Bernier is dragging his party into a debate over multiculturalism that can only cause trouble for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and their party, Chantal Hébert writes.