Ouimet: Laval an island of tolerance

Pre-Drainville, peace reigned among diverse faiths, cultures

By Robert Frank

The Parti Québécois (PQ) government is misguided in fanning the flames of fear and ignorance, Gilles Ouimet told The Suburban in an interview.

“In Laval, as in Montreal, where a signification portion of the population is composed of immigrants, we’re used to it, and it’s no big deal,” stated the Fabre MNA on behalf of the Quebec Liberal Party’s Laval caucus. “We’re not threatened by it.”

“Before [Minister of Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship Bernard] Drainville urged people to write to their MNA, there was no problem of integration in my riding,” Ouimet recalled. “There are always opportunities to do thing better but there was no crisis, and I’m sure that the rest of Laval is the same on immigration.”

Fears fail to fit reality

“The farther away people live from the reality of different cultures, the more they seem to be afraid of it,” he explained.

“The [péquistes’] goal is to play on some Quebecers’ perception that the French language and culture are at risk,” Ouimet said. “The Bouchard-Taylor commission clearly demonstrated that this perception is not grounded in reality.”

The only problem, he continued, is that “the PQ doesn’t care about reality. They’re trying to win over the population outside of the Greater Montreal region [whose demographics are more homogenous].”

Ouimet thinks that the PQ tabled its values charter to divert Quebecers’ attention from a tanking economy and spiking unemployment.

“Anyone who has worked on the immigration front will tell you that in any society, the best way to integrate people into a new society is to make sure that they have a job,” he declared.

“We ought instead to be trying to stimulate investment, job creation and economic growth,” Ouimet insisted. “That’s what Quebecers are really concerned about.”

“Instead, the péquistes have instigated a very emotional and divisive debate which has, unfortunately, divided the population,” he lamented. “It’s one thing to assert the principle of state neutrality in law. It’s quite another to start imposing restrictions on individual rights, such as what you’re allowed to wear and how you may practice your faith.”

“The Quebec Liberal Party is completely opposed to stripping away people’s right to wear religious symbols,” Ouimet concluded, “and we will oppose those measures vigorously.”

In a statement last week, Party leader Philippe Couillard reminded that, in 2010, the PQ blocked the Liberal government’s more limited Bill 94, which aimed to prohibit the province’s public servants from wearing face coverings, for reasons of identification, communication and safety.

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