<i>J'y suis, j'y reste!</i>

Lier le solde migratoire à la crise des accommodements raisonnables, c'est montrer la turpitude de leurs auteurs

There should be no cause for surprise that over 40,000 people have moved from Quebec since mid-2006. Concern, but no surprise.
These are the highest numbers since the last sovereignty referendum in 1995. The latest numbers come from Statistics Canada.
They reveal that 12,577 people left Quebec between April and June of this year, taking us over the 40,000 mark.
The full year period coincides with the beginning of the reasonable accommodation debate in this province. Premier Jean Charest’s attempt to placate francophone extremes and pacify anglophone nerves with the Bouchard-Taylor commission has done nothing to diminish the growth of emigrants. People are voting with their feet, and their cars.
There is, probably rightly so, no confidence that this province can come to terms with itself. This feeling is rampant among many francophones as well.
People know they have only one life to live and they are tired of three decades of the parochial particularities.
We tend to forget that since the first election of the Parti Québécois in 1976 some 400,000 Quebecers have left for Ontario and another 200,000 for the United States.
Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, calls the latest departure figures “very” significant.
Out-migration from Quebec peaked at close to 38,000 in 1996-97 before tapering off in 2003. This spike to referendum-era numbers should speak volumes about the failures of the civil administration, Liberal and Péquiste, in setting peoples’ minds to rest.
Jedwab commented recently that “in effect, 2003 looks like a blip, because what's happened since then is that not only have the out-migration flows turned upwards, they are again reaching fairly substantial heights.”
According to Jedwab, the key variable now seems to be reasonable accommodation — a topic being hashed out daily on our TV screens. Demonization of the other has once again come to the forefront of Quebec politics.
Most do not see a champion for basic civil rights.
While Marois and the PQ are the biggest culprits with their Identity Act and threats to political liberties, Charest’s immigration minister helped little with the patent attempt to pander to nationalist sentiment by suggesting that new immigrants be forced to live in francophone areas.
Mario Dumont and his ADQ, who first raised the spectre of too much accommodation, have disappeared into the backwoods while his opponents do the slicing and dicing. He may yet stand to reap the greatest rewards as voters’ memories are short.
Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Race-Action on Race Relations, said the mood among ethnic minorities is filled with despair.
He, along with Steven Slimovitch of B’nai B’rith Canada, called Bill 195 “xenophobic” and “discriminatory” at a recent joint press conference.
Niemi has compared the current mood with that felt in the 1970s. He characterizes Quebec as being at the mercy of “open, unchallenged intolerance.”
But we would suggest that giving into feelings of helplessness is not the answer.
Running away is not the response. Anglophone and allophone citizens have contributed much to Quebec and their respective communities more than proportional to their number.
Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. We must stay and fight it here.
For wherever we may be, once we begin to stop caring about things that matter, we begin to die.
Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was once told to leave Jackson, Mississippi for Atlanta because it was safer. Evers refused saying, “I don’t know if I’m going to heaven or hell but I’m going from Jackson.”
The message and metaphor in Quebec today is one of civil rights. The crapshoot of identity politics is coming up snake-eyes. Let’s reject the policies of fear.
Our answer to the intolerant must be j’y suis, j’y reste!
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