Sensing that West Island ridings might be up for grabs during the next federal election, some 80 Conservative faithful packed the Champagne room at the Pointe Claire Holiday Inn, April 22, for a talk by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
West Islanders are currently being courted by a parade of senior cabinet ministers. The Conservative’s Quebec lieutenant, Industry Minister Christian Paradis visited two weeks ago, and Veterans Affairs minister Steve Blaney is expected to make a stop here this Sunday.
“We obviously think that our best prospects in metropolitan Montreal are on the West Island,” Mr. Kenney told The Suburban. “[Conservative candidates] Larry [Smith] and Agop [Evereklian] did very well last time. We think we have a strong base to build on.”
Mr. Kenney’s talk was received enthusiastically, though one West Island Conservative supporter rose afterward to express worries about the current rise in Quebec nationalism. He asked how the federal government plans to address it.
Speaking in fluent French, Mr. Kenney cited Conservative initiatives vis-à-vis Quebec, then stressed that jobs and the economy are what Quebecers want most.
“I think it’s important to reflect all the voices in Quebec, including the anglophone and allophone communities,” he acknowledged to The Suburban afterward.
“We obviously believe in minority language rights and we’ve been clear about that,” he said, adding “We don’t get involved in provincial politics. I know that it’s always a difficult issue for some people on the West Island, but our focus is on delivering on our big commitments during the last election: mainly economic growth.”
“I think that’s what people on the West Island are focused on, actually. Now, I know that linguistic politics is a big concern here but, at the end of the day, people’s number one concerns are economic opportunity, jobs and stability.”
Asked whether West Islanders’ children will continue to have to leave Quebec to find work, Mr. Kenney replied, “Language aside, it’s all about their opportunity. We want that opportunity in every part of the country.”