Ex-PQ premier calls English media 'pathetic'
QUEBEC - The media of English Canada are to blame for pathetic, unfair coverage of the Parti Quebecois' controversial minorities plan, according to prominent Pequistes.
A former premier called the coverage pitiful. And a current cabinet minister took to Twitter to condemn it Tuesday.
The complaints about the Anglo fourth estate came amid a furor over an impending plan by the PQ government to restrict public employees' right to wear religious clothing.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, ex-premier Bernard Landry said he can't accept some of the complaints directed at the Quebecois.
"I take pity on some of Canada's English newspapers," Landry said.
"It's infuriating but it's so pathetic to go and say that Quebec is xenophobic and racist -- when from the start of our national adventure we intermingled with Amerindians. The majority of us have Amerindian roots, one-quarter of us have Irish roots, we have had six premiers of Irish origin. What are these people talking about? Why are they so misinformed in the rest of Canada?...
"Do they think our culture minister was born on Ile d'Orleans? It's (Cameroonian native) Maka Kotto. We (the PQ) elected the first black person in the Quebec national assembly. The Bloc Quebecois elected the first Latino to the Parliament of Canada. They should open their eyes."
Landry made a prediction: that the rest of Canada will one day "deeply regret" having embraced the doctrine of multiculturalism.
He says it leads to a lack of integration that harms social cohesion and, pointing to Europe, he says that ultimately risks feeding right-wing extremist politics over time.
"Multiculturalism will lead to more and more problems, like in Great Britain. In Holland, in Germany, same thing. Angela Merkel came out against this doctrine a while ago. Immigrants themselves are the first victims of multiculturalism," he said.
"In the U.S., you never see a police officer with a turban. There are things worth regulating and I hope it gets done (here).
"The rule is, when you change country, you change country. They can't expect to find everything here that they had in their country of origin. Intergration is a powerful signal that they need to adjust to a new nation.
"And the majority of them do it wonderfully."
In fact, following Landry's remarks, people shared images and anecdotes on social media of U.S. law-enforcement officers wearing turbans.
There's also some research that suggests Canada's approach to integrating immigrants has worked comparably well.
The most recent international Migrant Integration Policy Index placed Canada at No. 3, behind Sweden and Portugal, by using 148 criteria to measure successful integration.
The PQ says it will put forward its Charter of Quebec Values within several weeks, and seek to get it through the legislature.
Critics have called the plan unconstitutional, or worse.
A leaked version of the proposal says the government would bar public employees from wearing religious clothing -- such as turbans, kippas, hijabs and visible crucifixes.
The plan may have enough support to be adopted in the legislature. The opposition Coalition Avenir Quebec says it would support parts of the plan, although it would apply the rules to far fewer public-sector workers.
The idea has majority public support in Quebec, according to polls, but it's far from clear that such support would translate into more votes for the PQ.
Landry, 76, was briefly premier after he replaced the retiring Lucien Bouchard in 2001. …