Madam Speaker, I will share my time with my colleague from Montcalm, the always classy member I am so very fond of.
I am a little hoarse. I wish I could say it is because I am angry, but it is just a cold. Actually, I am kind of angry because of what I have been hearing all day. That brings me to one pretty simple question. Is it possible, in the House of Commons, to think critically about immigration levels without being immediately labelled a xenophobe, intolerant, a great replacement theory adherent or a far-right extremist? I heard that today, and it made me feel a little dubious.
Everyone knows that people often have extreme and ideologically entrenched views on immigration. That happens a lot, so I think we need to rise above that.
I listened to the member for Rosemont—La Petite‑Patrie this morning who told us that, essentially, the Bloc Québécois is using this issue to weaponize the debate on immigration. I found this rather amusing because, in his speech, my colleague referred to Gérald Godin. We are very familiar with the poems of Gérald Godin, a sovereignist if ever there was one. I would remind the House that he was Pauline Julien's husband. Anyone who has ever heard Pauline Julien's songs and read Gérald Godin's poems knows that they are part of the culture that gave the sovereignist movement its soul.
I shot back with a little quip, quoting a poem by Gaston Miron, and I might very well pick up on that again later. The member for Rosemont—La Petite‑Patrie shot right back at me by quoting Gilles Vigneault, quoting the phrase at the end of the song Mon pays: “And these people are of my people”. Now that is what I would call weaponizing, especially since the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie left out the first few lines from Vigneault's song, where he sings:
My father had a house built
And I'm going to be true
To his ways, to his example
Gilles Vigneault tells us that Quebec society is a welcoming society, with its own cultural identity. What Gilles Vigneault, Gérald Godin and all the people who built Quebec culture have in common is that they want us to cherish that culture, to be a part of it and, above all, to try to stand up for it. That is why I find it so rich to be told that I am weaponizing the debate, when someone keeps taking all the work of the people who created Quebec culture and hijacking for ideological purposes. I have seen that a lot from the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
During the Bill 21 debate, he kept pointing me to a quote from Albert Camus, taken from Notebooks, a book that is not very important in light of Camus's overall body of work. It is the famous quote about democracy that goes like this: “Democracy is not the law of the majority, but the protection of the minority.” Camus did write that, but it is shameful to apply this quote to the debate on Bill 21. Anyone who does that must be ignorant of Camus's point of view on religion. With all due respect, I would recommend that my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie read The Rebel, especially the part about the metaphysical development of rebellion, in order to understand Camus' point of view, as long as he does not want to just hijack it for his own purposes, of course.
I am being accused of weaponizing the immigration issue. Meanwhile, members are taking positions rather lightly, quoting ideas left and right that they do not understand.
What I propose is perhaps to take the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie at his word and to go back to what Rima Elkouri wrote: If we want to talk about immigration, approach is everything.
I think that the right way to discuss immigration is, of course, to have thoughtful discourse and especially to refuse to fall into the trap of conflating different issues. I bring this up because that happens all too often here in the House. Whenever we present legitimate demands in order to protect the Quebec identity, it is seen as a manifestation of intolerance and insularity.
It goes without saying that putting the words “Quebec” and “identity” side by side in the House seems to really annoy some of my colleagues. I have always wondered why.
We know that members of the Bloc Québécois are immediately suspect because we defend Bill 21 on secularism and Bill 96 on language, and today, because we are criticizing an immigration strategy that Gérard Bouchard, one of the greatest intellectuals in Quebec, described as imperialist and aggressive.
I would submit that no one should be ashamed to use their history to give meaning to their culture and condition. No one objects when indigenous national minorities demand recognition. No one has the audacity to tell them that they are doing it to the detriment of ethnic minorities. We just have to deal with it.
That makes certain thing clear. The first thing we need to state and make all of the members here understand is that Quebec is a national minority. I get the impression that the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and some Liberal members never understood the very basic principle that Quebec is a national minority.
The main crux of the immigration issue is that we cannot cut corners when examining two opposing identities. On the one hand, there is the Quebec identity, and on the other, there is the Canadian identity. There has been an opposition between the two since Confederation. It is rather simple. When we talk about identity, what the federal government usually does is refuse to recognize the Quebec people, the Quebec nation, in a way that would enable them to grow.
It is fairly simple. I am going to go back to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, the Laurendeau-Dunton commission, which gave rise to the Canadian model of integration. The commission's starting point was to offer recognition to French Canadians, one of the founding peoples, the Quebec people. That was the starting point, but what would we end up with? The commission would say that Canada would be a bilingual country, but never a bicultural one. Canada opted for multiculturalism instead. The reason for this is simple: Recognizing all cultures means recognizing none. The commission left Quebec to drown in an ocean of Canadian diversity that would express itself in English anyway. It was the best way to ensure that, in the future, Quebec's demands would be moot.
However, multiculturalism is not only an institutional policy that was developed in Canada, it is also a liberal theory. That is the problem. I would like to borrow the words of Gaston Miron, who wrote about “emancipated milksops and well-mannered insects” who are unaware of what multiculturalism really means. They blithely conflate pluralism and multiculturalism. Multiculturalism, as a theory—a liberal theory that is very well developed in both Canada and Quebec—suggests that there are two kinds of minorities.
There are ethnocultural minorities, whose rights must be defended. We have an obligation to recognize them. Will Kymlicka, a specialist in multicultural policy, says that we must also recognize national minorities. However, never in this chamber have I seen a representative of the NDP, the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party stand up and say that there is a national minority in this country. There are many national minorities, but there is one in particular: Quebec. Most people here pride themselves on defending multiculturalism without necessarily understanding it.
It is clear from the debate that the government wants to drown Quebec in an ocean of newcomers without allowing us to use our own unique system to integrate them. The government thinks that by using multiculturalism and welcoming 500,000 immigrants a year, it can meet employers' needs. What it is not thinking about, however, is the survival and vitality of the Quebec nation. That is why, today, my colleagues have moved this motion that is critical to Quebec. The Century Initiative has been condemned by all members of the Quebec National Assembly.
I will not be called a xenophobe for defending my nation.