Beginning next year, the Quebec government will start requiring new immigrants hoping to live in the province to take a “democratic values and Quebec values” test.
Premier François Legault highlighted the need for immigrants to be in-line with the province’s values and recently implemented secularism law, otherwise known as Bill 21, which bars public servants from wearing religious symbolism to work.
“I think it’s important if somebody wants to come and live in Quebec to know that, for example, women are equal to men in Quebec,” said Legault.
While the test doesn’t apply to refugees or asylum seekers, economic immigrants hoping to live in the province will have to get a grade of 75 per cent or higher. In its entirety, the test will be composed of 20 questions.
Bill 21 and Legault’s values test took a front seat during the 2019 election and campaign. While several candidates spoke out and said they were personally opposed to the religious symbols law, including NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, they maintained that they would not intervene in the court challenge to the legislation if elected.
During the French language leaders’ debate, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood by the province’s decision to impose a values test on new immigrants.
“Quebec has a lot of power over immigration, more than any other province, and that’s a good thing because of the Quebec identity and because of the need to protect the French language,” said Trudeau during the debate calling the test “appropriate”.
When a similar type of test was suggested by Conservative Leadership Candidate Kellie Leitch on a federal level, the mainstream media and fellow politicians expressed outrage over the plan.
According to her such a system should screen new immigrants for “intolerance towards other religions, cultures and sexual orientations, violent and/or misogynist behaviour and/or a lack of acceptance of our Canadian tradition of personal and economic freedoms.”
Outlets like the CBC, Buzzfeed and the Toronto Star took Leitch to task when she first proposed the idea. In one Buzzfeed article titled “Here’s How 11 Muslims Feel About the “Canadian Values” Debate,” one respondent called an attempt to define Canadian identity and values “fruitless”.
In another article, Toronto Star columnist called the idea of a values test “anti-Muslim” and Macleans called it “full of baloney”.