The Parti Québécois is proposing to create two classes of Canadian citizens in Quebec: those who speak French up to a government-imposed standard, and those who do not. Those who do not meet the standard would be denied the right to run for political office, contribute to political parties or sign a petition to the province's National Assembly. Those who meet the standard would be so-called Quebec citizens, with full rights. (Anyone living in Quebec now or born in future to Quebec citizens would be counted as citizens.) The PQ's notion that Quebec has the power to disenfranchise Canadian citizens is ludicrous in a legal sense and repugnant in a moral one.
Consider a banker from Vancouver, either native-born or from abroad. She's a Canadian citizen. Her bank transfers her to Montreal. After three months (under the PQ's proposed "Quebec identity act"), she is eligible for Quebec citizenship. To obtain that citizenship, she needs to meet the provincial standard for speaking French and for knowledge of Quebec. If she's not up to standard, the PQ would bar her from contributing to, say, the Liberal Party of Canada if she so chose. If she wishes to express her objections to this law, she cannot sign a petition being put before the Quebec legislature. If she plans to stay, she cannot run for office, not even for a local school board.
One person, one vote is at the core of any democracy. The PQ would diminish the principle by chipping away the political rights that go with having a vote. The party claims to have constitutional advice that its proposal would be considered reasonable in a free and democratic society under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Nonsense. To carve up the core principle of a democracy would require proof of a devastating and imminent threat to that democracy's survival. And what is that threat?
There is none. There are concerns in Quebec about whether the accommodation of religious minorities has gone too far. But the real threat is to the PQ's popularity among francophones. The party has been displaced by the Action Démocratique du Quebec as the main defender of Quebec's francophone identity, largely because the ADQ rushed to the barricades to embrace some xenophobic views in rural Quebec before the provincial election in March; from a party of five seats, the ADQ soared to 41. The third-place PQ is desperate to seize the high ground on Quebec's politics of identity.
Sovereignty through the back door - that is the purpose of creating Quebec citizenship. With the exceptions noted above, only those with proficiency in French would be entitled to full rights. Everyone else would be sent to the back of the bus. This is a very low road to the political high ground.
A nasty PQ recipe for non-'citizens'
The PQ's notion that Quebec has the power to disenfranchise Canadian citizens is ludicrous in a legal sense and repugnant in a moral one.