YES, THE CAQ IS RACIST

The McGill Daily - - Contents -

con­tent warn­ing: xeno­pho­bia, Is­lam­o­pho­bia, racism

On Oc­to­ber 7, thou­sands of peo­ple at­tended the Great Demon­stra­tion Against Racism, which was co-organized by mul­ti­ple or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the pub­lic group “Contre la Haine et le Racisme.” The event, ini­ti­ated last year, was planned be­fore the re­sults of the Que­bec elec­tions came out. Fol­low­ing the elec­toral vic­tory of the Coali­tion Avenir Québec (CAQ) on Oc­to­ber 1, the march evolved into a protest against the party’s xeno­pho­bic rhetoric.

Across the prov­ince, and at Mcgill, peo­ple have been de­bat­ing whether or not the CAQ is racist. We be­lieve that it is jus­ti­fied to call the CAQ racist, as the party prop­a­gates poli­cies that are Is­lam­o­pho­bic and xeno­pho­bic. The CAQ has pro­posed re­duc­ing im­mi­gra­tion from 50,000 to 40,000 peo­ple per year and ban­ning re­li­gious dress for pub­lic ser­vants.

Sup­port­ers, and even spome op­po­nents, of the CAQ ar­gue that it is not racist to want to limit im­mi­gra­tion, fram­ing anti-im­mi­gra­tion mea­sures as “self-pro­tec­tion.” This con­strues “out­siders” as a threat to a na­tion­al­ist, white, Que­be­cois iden­tity. More im­por­tantly, this logic scape­goats im­mi­grants for sys­temic eco­nomic prob­lems and per­pet­u­ates dis­crim­i­na­tion against largely racial­ized and low-in­come im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties. The xeno­pho­bic rhetoric that the CAQ es­pouses has neg­a­tive ef­fects on the daily lives of im­mi­grants in this prov­ince. For these rea­sons, it is jus­ti­fied to call the CAQ racist.

Sim­i­larly, it is of­ten ar­gued that ban­ning re­li­gious sym­bols is not racially mo­ti­vated. Since the Quiet Revo­lu­tion, which sparked a tran­si­tion to­wards sec­u­lar­ism in the prov­ince, Que­bec has ac­tively en­gaged in sep­a­rat­ing the Church and state. How­ever, un­like in the six­ties, “sec­u­lar­ism” to­day al­most ex­clu­sively tar­gets marginal­ized groups. Peo­ple who wear overt re­li­gious sym­bols are mostly of Mus­lim, Jewish, or Sikh faiths. The pol­icy pro­posed by the CAQ forces peo­ple to choose be­tween ex­press­ing their faith or fac­ing eco­nomic and so­cial con­se­quences. Given that peo­ple of these faiths are pre­dom­i­nantly racial­ized, the con­se­quences of this pol­icy dis­pro­por­tion­ally af­fect peo­ple of colour. As such, la­belling the CAQ as racist is jus­ti­fied.

Far-right or­ga­ni­za­tions and par­ties have shown sup­port for the CAQ in mul­ti­ple in­stances. A mem­ber of self- de­scribed “ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist” group Storm Al­liance de­fended the CAQ on for­mer SSMU VP Ex­ter­nal Ma­rina Cupido’s Face­book post, which con­demned the party’s racist poli­cies. Ad­di­tion­ally, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right party Rassem­ble­ment Na­tional in France, and La Meute, an ex­plic­itly anti-im­mi­grant and Is­lam­o­pho­bic Que­bec-based or­ga­ni­za­tion, is­sued state­ments in sup­port of the CAQ. Al­though the CAQ has tried to dis­tance them­selves from both or­ga­ni­za­tions, it does not negate the fact that far-right groups en­dorse each other be­cause of their sim­i­larly racist poli­cies. To quote a spokesper­son for La Meute ad­dress­ing CAQ leader Fran­cois Le­gault, “if La Meute is on the cusp of racism, then you are as well, Mr. Le­gault.”

De­fen­dants of the CAQ see “racist” as an in­sult. Call­ing a po­lit­i­cal party racist, how­ever, is not an at­tack on their iden­tity. It is a po­lit­i­cal state­ment that con­demns the per­pet­u­a­tion of sys­temic in­jus­tice and op­pres­sion.

To see a photo es­say from the Demon­stra­tion, go to page 6.

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