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Quebec/Ottawa, May 16 (Canadian-Media): The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ)'s plan to give newcomers stringent tests to prove their French speaking and conform to Quebec values was met with criticism, media reports said.
"We do not want to keep too many people who do not accept our language, our values and to participate in the workforce," Leader François Legault told Radio-Canada.
François Legault. Image credit: Facebook page
The plan, laid out in an "orientation document" was made public this week and said that immigration candidates would receive a temporary three-year permit, referred to as a certificat d'accompagnement transitoire (CAT).
These candidates would reportedly be tested on their knowledge of French language to be eligible to apply for Canadian residency.
The CAQ's Justice Critic, Simon Jolin-Barrette, said the plan is designed to help people join Quebec society.
"All our plan is about is responsibility. We will help the immigrants to have a great integration here in Quebec," said Jolin-Barrette.
The CAQ said it would reportedly also like to reduce immigration to 40,000 people per year.
Legault said newcomers who are in Quebec and have been issued a transitionary certificate would need to meet three criteria within three years: pass a French test, pass a values test and show they are actively looking for a job.
"I think fundamentally what Mr. Legault is saying is that you must fear immigration and that's scary. On the contrary, Quebec and Canada were and are built on immigration and immigration is a good thing," said Quebec Immigration Minister David Heurtel
The aim is to be more selective, said Legualt in their choice of newcomers to ensure they speak French and can be integrated in the labour force and in its culture.
People in difficult circumstances, including parents of young children or those caring for ill loved ones would reportedly be given extensions.
But Newcomers who repeatedly fail the tests would not be eligible to apply for citizenship and be flagged at the federal level as living in Quebec without status.
"If the person does not want to learn French, they will not have their selection certificate, so they... become a person without status and it's up to the federal government to decide what to do with that person."
Describing this proposal impracticable, Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard said it treats immigrants as problems that need solving.
"This cannot work and it sends the wrong message," he said.